It was a big year for Mountainfilm. For the first time, our staff put on two festivals — Mountainfilm in Telluride and Mountainfilm Online — in a constantly changing, relatively unknown landscape. It was a big year, but through it all our filmmakers remained a top priority. And just like in years past, Mountainfilm made a point to recognize and support the filmmakers whose work stood out, inviting us to think, question and take action.
While most juried awards were announced after Mountainfilm in Telluride wrapped up on Memorial Day (see below), we were gathering votes for the esteemed Audience Choice Award and Student Choice Award during Mountainfilm Online.
Here are our 2021 award winners:
AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD
Buried was selected by Mountainfilm Online attendees as the 2021 audience favorite. The film transports us back to March 1982 when a monster storm rolled into Alpine Meadows, one of the most avalanche prone ski resorts in the U.S. As directors Jared Drake and Steven Siig deliver a taut autopsy of that fateful event, key players dig through painful memories to relive what happens when nature overwhelms.
Buried spoke intimately to Mountainfilm’s audience, many of whom live and play in the mountains and know the danger of avalanches firsthand. “We found throughout the weekend that people were pulling us aside telling us their stories of trauma, and we realized that this film was a really cathartic experience for anyone dealing with any kind of trauma,” said Drake, who attended Mountainfilm in Telluride along with Siig. “Being [in Telluride] and connecting with other filmmakers and seeing what the festival is about was just phenomenal. Being a part of it is a huge honor and to walk away with the Audience Choice is completely unexpected, we’re just speechless.”
Funded in Part by Tully & Elise Friedman
STUDENT CHOICE AWARD
Every year, high school students from the immersive Mountainfilm for Students program select a film they feel will most inspire their generation. This year, the award went to Black Ice, a film from Reel Rock 15 that was directed by Peter Mortimer and Zachary Barr. The film follows a group of climbers from Memphis, Tennessee who join legendary climber Conrad Anker on an ice climbing excursion in Montana. In addition to delivering a dose of action and adventure, the film unflinchingly addresses the racial inequity of outdoor recreation and the communities where it flourishes. As one Memphis climber observes, “Montana is so white, it makes your eyes hurt.”
When announcing the award winner, participants in the Mountainfilm for Students program stated that “Black Ice addressed so many relevant topics such as racial discrimination, childhood trauma, overcoming personal fears, and building community. Issues that should resonate with any generation both nationally and internationally.”
Funded by Telluride Academy and Tully & Elise Friedman
And our previously announced juried award winners are:
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
BEST SHORT FILM
SINCE YOU ARRIVED, MY HEART STOPPED BELONGING TO ME
CHARLIE FOWLER BEST ADVENTURE FILM
THE ANTS & THE GRASSHOPPER
WOMEN IN FILM
THE BEAUTY PRESIDENT
VIMEO STAFF PICK
If you happened to miss any of these films, they are all currently available on Mountainfilm Online until Sunday, June 6 at 11:45 p.m. MDT. You can still get an online pass or single program ticket here.
A huge congratuations and so much gratitude to our 2021 award winners. Thank you for trusting us with these invaluable stories.
And thank you to our audiences for joining us. We can't wait to see you next year.