January 28, 2015

The Making of a Film and a Filmmaker: Mountainfilm Commitment Grant Report

"I had never before attended a festival quite like Mountainfilm, and I was determined to one day share a film there."

I attended my first two years at Telluride Mountainfilm as a volunteer — taking tickets at the Library and the Nugget Theatre, frantically scooping melting ice cream at the ice cream social, and working at the art galleries during the Gallery Walk. During my free time, I caught as many films, talks and events as I could.

Both years I left exhausted, inspired and captivated by the spirit of Mountainfilm. I was crazy in love with it. I had never before attended a festival quite like Mountainfilm, and I was determined to one day share a film there.

When I received a Mountainfilm Commitment Grant for my first film, a documentary short portrait of 91-year-old Himalayan mountaineering record keeper Elizabeth Hawley, I literally jumped around the room. Receiving funding as a first-time director is a challenge, so I was overwhelmed with gratitude that the committee took a chance on the project. Those funds were crucial to allow me to complete post production, and the feedback the Mountainfilm team provided during the editing process was invaluable.

As a result of grant, we were able to share Keeper of the Mountains at more than 30 festivals (including its world premiere at Mountainfilm!). We even screened it in Kathmandu at a special American embassy gathering that honored Elizabeth Hawley, and when the film concluded she received a standing ovation that especially moved her. So many people have expressed how touched and inspired they are by her story.

Thank you again, Mountainfilm, for making it all possible!

Allison Otto, 2011 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant recipient

Mountainfilm is committed to help creative individuals tell stories that represent the spirit of Mountainfilm. Grants are awarded to filmmakers, photographers, artists and adventurers whose projects are intended to move audiences to action on issues that matter. We will accept letters of interest for 2015 Mountainfilm Commitment Grants in June.

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