Public Trust Takes Home 2020 Audience Choice, Us Kids Wins Best Documentary Feature
It was a year of firsts for Mountainfilm: the first online dance party, the first not-so-social ice cream social and the first time festival goers, filmmakers and staff were asked to forgo a 42-year-old tradition and adapt. The result was proof positive that the indomitable spirit of the Mountainfilm family is alive and well.
“Even though it was a scary undertaking at times, we were scrappy and came up with the best solution we could in the six or seven weeks we had to prepare. In the beginning, we had no platform, no idea how to build one and we couldn’t help but wonder: If we build it, will they come?” explained Festival Director Suzan Beraza.
It turns out, over 9,500 attendees — the highest number in Mountainfilm history — tuned in to watch over 130 selected films and almost 20 presentations and live events. And certain films rose to the top, capturing the hearts and imaginations of audiences.
Viewers cast their vote for 2020 Audience Choice Award-winner Public Trust, a film that sheds light on something that impacts every American — the threat to our public lands by extractive industries. The Best Documentary Feature Award went to Us Kids, a tale of transformation as highschoolers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas evolve into political activists.
“This film was by far the best of the show,” said a Best Documentary Feature jury member. “It took me on an emotional ride with those incredible kids. It had a strong point of view and ended with a grounded version of what hope looks like.”
The Women in Film Award — a new addition that’s graciously funded by Riccarda de Eccher and Bill Goldston — was given to Welcome Strangers, a Colorado project and Mountainfilm Commitment Grant Winner that highlights the work of Casa de Paz, a temporary home in Denver for families separated by immigrant detention. The Moving Mountains Award, which supports a filmmaker and the film’s associated nonprofit, went to the heavy hitter, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall and the organization, Louisiana Bucket Brigade. The emotionally driven film gave voice to one man’s struggle against an international petrochemical company set on pushing him out of his ancestral home by any means necessary.
The selection of 2020 films was enhanced by presentations from filmmakers like James Cameron, mountaineers like Arlene Blum and environmentalists like Paul Watson and 2020 Guest Director Louie Psihoyos.
“We were honored by everyone who took the time to share their work and their stories. While it was sad we couldn’t be together in person, which is really what Mountainfilm is all about, we were happy that because of this twist in the road, we became more accessible and reached new audiences,” said Beraza.
The year of Mountainfilm firsts is punctuated by the move from a 4-day festival to an extended 11-day run, meaning you have until midnight on Monday, May 25 to unlock programs and watch any 2020 award winners you might’ve missed.
See all eight of the 2020 Festival Award Winners here.