October 16, 2007

What in the World is a "Mountain Film?"

Mountainfilm in Telluride now accepting submissions for 30th annual festival. Submit early, submit often!

October 16, 2007It's Call 4 Entries season once again at Mountainfilm, which brings up the question that I hear from filmmakers all through the winter: "what in the world is a "mountain film?" I just got a phone call this morning from a filmmaker whose film documents a beauty pageant for HIV+ women in Africa. Is that a mountain film?The films we accept for Mountainfilm run the gamut of topics, so sometimes it's a bit of a challenge to describe the ubiquitous Mountainfilm selection. We try to advertise our call for entries succinctly but smartly, with a listing of our typical genres and some additional information. Here's the text from our Call 4 Entries card:

Greetings from Telluride, Colorado—the small-town headquarters of America’s premier festival of mountain, adventure, cultural and environmental film and video, now in its 30th year.Mountainfilm celebrates indomitable spirit, poignantly expressed through film screenings, presentations, exhibits and conversations. Submit your “labor of love” and you may find yourself amongst maestros in the fields of filmmaking, exploration, science, adventure, cultural preservation and environmental solution.

That actually sums it up pretty well. But there's still a lot of grey area. Some mountain film festivals exclusively screen films in the genre of mountain film, but OUR programming goes way beyond mountaineering and exploration. In some ways "Mountainfilm" is a misnomer, because the pure description is far too limiting for our content. But we couldn't call ourselves a wildlife or environmental film festival, either, because we have films that have nothing to do with the environment. What about saying we are simply a documentary film festival? That wouldn't be accurate, either. Take The Cave of the Yellow Dog, which we screened in 2006. It is a feature length narrative film from Mongolia.Our history began with pure mountain film, and the name "Mountainfilm" has now come to encompass everything that we represent. For example, would we screen a documentary about the first ever transgendered production of The Vagina Monologues? We did, a film called Beautiful Women. How about a satire mockumentary attacking the conspicuous consumption and under-population of resort towns? The Lost People of Mountain Village. An unsolved murder mystery from the 1917 wild west Montana? An Injury to One, in 2004.We hate to limit our potential entries by putting restrictions on submissions, because a film that at first appears to be outside of our typical genres may work perfectly in a program block. So we say we accept films on any subject, from any country, in an genre, produced any year, either narrative or documentary, short or long. But there is an essential Mountainfilm-ness that we are looking for, and that's where our motto and mission come in. "Celebrating Indomitable Spirit" is most likely the fewest words possible to describe the essence of Mountainfilm, and if you want just a few more words then here you go:

Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, culture worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.

So the answer to the question above—is the Miss HIV pageant a mountain film?—is a resounding yes.Posted by Emily LongMountainfilm will be accepting entries for our 30th annual festival, held May 23-26, 2008, through the end of February. If you are interested in submitting a film, please click here.

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