July 30, 2014

Finalists for the 2014 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant

In June, we wrote about the fifth anniversary of the Mountainfilm Commitment Grant, and now we’re proud to announce the finalists for 2014. These individuals have the opportunity to apply for one of the five $5,000 grants that also include a MacBook Pro computer.

The number of applicants increase annually, so the competition gets fiercer. We thank all of those who submitted letters. Many worthy projects did not make it to the final round, but here are the 16 that did qualify:

Alfredo Alcántara and Caitlin Machak
Shaki (film)
The filmmakers will take a journey into the Amazon to learn the real story behind the life of Napoleon Chagnon, one of the first anthropologists to research an uncontacted Yanamamo tribe in Venezuela, who was later discredited and disgraced. Alfredo Alcántara co-directed the film Duke and the Buffalo, which screened at Mountainfilm 2014.

Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli
Frame by Frame (film)
Frame by Frame is a feature-length documentary that follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate a young and dangerous media landscape. Through intimate verité moments and never-before-seen archival footage, the film reveals the struggle of overcoming the odds to capture the truth. Director Alexandria Bombach most recently shared her film Common Ground with audiences at Mountainfilm 2014.

David Byars
Me the People (film)
Following his sneak peek addition into the 2014 festival called Recapture, David Byars has proposed a project to tell the full story of a new wave of protests against the BLM. Me the People is a character-driven film that will focus on the voices for and against public lands and will touch upon themes of wilderness, stewardship, civil disobedience, the mindset of armed resistance and equitable justice.

Cat Cannon
Irene Bennalley, Navajo Lady Sheepherder (working title) (film)

Through the story of Irene Bennalley — a Navajo woman who inherited her family grazing permit near Shiprock, New Mexico — director Cat Cannon will explore the larger dilemma of balancing cultural preservation and ecological health. This is Cannon’s first documentary.

Paul Diffley
Frozen Sorry (film)

Paul Diffley’s name is familiar as the force behind Hot Aches Productions based out of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the winner of the Charlie Fowler Climbing Award for E11 (Mountainfilm 2006) and WideBoyz (Mountainfilm 2013). His project proposal Frozen Sorry tells the story of Alan Mullin, a daring and accomplished Scottish winter climber who ended his own life after a dramatic incident during which he began smashing up his own house.

Trevor Frost
Dead Reckoning: The Last Navigators (photography and multimedia)

Trevor Frost most recently attended Mountainfilm with Wade Davis’s Sacred Headwaters project and has been traveling the world to find remarkable individuals who can find their way across the remote corners of the planet using only clues from the land and sea. A photographer, Frost will collaborate again with Davis to create a photo essay for publication, an exhibit and a short film called Dead Reckoning: The Last Navigators.

Kahlil Hudson and Alex Jablonski
Young Men & Fire (film)

The team behind the 2012 festival selection Low & Clear is working on a new film that unfolds over the course of one fire season in the America West. The film follows three young men — all part of a single wildland firefighting crew — as they wrestle with loyalty, fear, courage, love and defeat in the face of nature's most elemental force.

Dan Janvey
¡Brimstone & Glory! (film)

A new name in the Mountainfilm community, Dan Janvey proposes a provocative documentary feature that takes an immersive look at the National Pyrotechnic Festival in Tultepec, Mexico, and examines this group that’s oriented around a specialized economy: fireworks.

Max Lowe
Dreams of Bees (film)

Gathering beautiful chronicled video imagery through the eyes of one Gurung honey hunter in a remote part of Nepal seldom seem by foreign eyes, Dream of Bees seeks to paint a picture of the process through which the art of the hunt occurs and of a fading enchanted domain. Max Lowe was a presenter with the National Geographic Young Explorers at Mountainfilm in 2012 and returned with two films in 2014: Summer Light and Winter Light.

Sarah Menzies
Afghan Cycles (film)

Afghan Cycles is a feature-length documentary about the brave women who dare to ride. The film takes a close look at what it means to be a female cyclist in a male-dominated country. Sarah Menzies contributed the film Catch It to Mountainfilm in 2014.

Lisa Olken
Red Power Energy (film)

Red Power Energy is a trans-media film project that explores the promises and perils of fossil fuel and renewable energy development on 14 American Indian reservations in a five-state region: Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Olken is a veteran filmmaker for Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver, but she is new to Mountainfilm.

Jeff Orlowski
The Reef Project (working title) (film)

After the success of Chasing Ice (Mountainfilm 2012), Jeff Orlowski and his team take what they learned and apply it to an aquatic world. The world’s reefs are in a dramatic state of decline, and in response Orlowski will document the work of the Catlin Seaview Survey while they capture historical records of the reefs as they disappear at alarming rates.

Josh Penn
Contemporary Color (film)

Josh Penn — whose proposal for Sara Dosa’s film The Last Season was a successful Commitment Grant recipient in 2013, and which further led to a festival screening in 2014 — now brings a documentary feature film that eagerly explores and joyously celebrates the little-known yet passionately celebrated world of high school Color Guard. The film is a collaboration between Penn’s Court 13 and David Byrne’s (of Talking Heads) Todo Mundo.

Dean Potter
Untitled (film)
Dean Potter, known for unconventional adventures and the short film When Dogs Fly (Mountainfilm 2014), will team up with environmentalist and park service ranger Patrick Rizzo to bring awareness to several isolated giant sequoia groves outside of Rizzo’s park boundaries in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. The unlikely duo of outlaw and park service ranger will climb and live within the trees’ canopies for many nights, using traditional clean climbing techniques and, no doubt, stirring up controversy along the way.

Eddie Roqueta
Reintroducing the Orphaned Sun Bear Cub Back into the Borneo Wild (film and multimedia)

Eddie Roqueta recently received a National Geographic Young Explorer Grant to embark upon a yearlong journey to reintroduce an orphan sun bear cub back into the Borneo wild and create a documentary film about it. A current student at Montana State University’s Science and Natural History Filmmaking program, Roqueta is new to Mountainfilm audiences.

Scott Upshur
Project Boom (film)

Project Boom, which was featured in short form in the crowd-sourced documentary Dear Governor Hickenlooper that played at Mountainfilm 2014, is about the U.S. government's experiments fracking with nuclear warheads in Colorado and New Mexico. Filmmaker Scott Upshur, a regular contributor to Mountainfilm, examines correlations between government figures, business interests and health and safety decisions in the late 1960s and mirrors them to today’s fracking situation.

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