October 21, 2014

2015 Moving Mountains Symposium Theme: Afghanistan

For much of the past decade, we’ve chosen environmental themes for the Moving Mountains Symposium, issues that we’ve felt were essential to the global conversation. This year, we’re changing directions and will focus on Afghanistan as the theme for the 2015 symposium. We haven't selected a theme directly tied to a country since 2006 (Mongolia), so we’re ready to revisit Afghanistan, where the situation has changed considerably since we last spotlighted it during the symposium of 1997 (and since "Mountains of Islam" was our symposium subject in 2002).

I had a chance to see what was happening there myself when I traveled to Kabul in December of 2013. I made the trip with my eldest daughter to film the third act of The Diplomat, a documentary I’m making about my father, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who was President Obama's Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like my father, I was taken by the country's unique cultural flavor and, even more, by its stark mountain landscape.

After spending time in Afghanistan, I realized there’s a much richer and deeper story to tell about the country than what we read in the news. The war (the longest military conflict in U.S. history) figures into the conversation, but it’s just one facet of a much larger picture that we intend to explore through the symposium’s prism of art, poetry and food.

As always, the key is our guests. We’ve invited a diverse array of speakers, including Sebastian Junger, who co-directed the film Restrepo (Mountainfilm 2010); Robert Nickelsburg, a photographer who has worked extensively in the region; Eliza Griswold, who spoke at the 2012 symposium and wrote the book I Am the Beggar of the World that features poems by Afghan women; and Fawzia Koofi, a courageous Afghan female politician who, despite multiple attempts on her life, continues to work for a better future for her country. (See her interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show.)

We’ll have additional names to add to this roster as we confirm more speakers. Meanwhile, we’re interested in your thoughts: Who would you like to see at the 2015 Moving Mountains Symposium on Afghanistan?

David Holbrooke, Telluride Mountainfilm Festival Director

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