Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mountainfilm 2010 | Part 2: A Few Favorite Films

After posting my musings on the question, "What is Mountainfilm?" I wanted to add a few thoughts about some of my favorite films from this past festival.  I need to say that there were several films that I did not get a chance to see that sounded incredible.  But of the ones that I saw, here were my favorites (in no particular order):

"I Am"
Tom and his production team watch their premiere at the Palm
Director Tom Shadyac’s deeply personal journey begins with the question, “What’s wrong with the world?” and comes full circle to discover that the question “What’s right with the world?” can yield the same answer with very different perspective.  

His search - as it plays out through interviews with some of the greatest minds of today - is empowering and accessible, profoundly thoughtful and deeply moving.  Basic premises of accepted human urges toward aggression and consumption are questioned and a paradigm shift in our thinking is gracefully and convincingly proposed.

I don’t know if it was the fact that I viewed the premiere of “I Am” at the culmination of a day full of emotional and powerful films, or if it was the content of this film exclusively, but when the end credits began to roll, I was flooded with a rush of endorphins and burst into tears of pure love - for the film and for the potential in all of us.  I am grateful beyond words for Tom’s personal commitment to this movie and to making the world a better place through his own life changes as well as the connection and love that I witnessed in his conversations with others throughout the festival.

I cannot wait for this movie to get larger distribution - I very much look forward to experiencing it again!

"Bag It"

Dr. Theo Colburn, Jeb Berrier and Suzan Beraza talk plastics
Another must see begins as an investigation of the history and consequence of the single-use, disposable plastic bag.  Perhaps that sounds less than gripping, but what a masterpiece this soulful documentary turns out to be!

After work had begun on the film, it was discovered that Jeb (the “average guy” in the film) was expecting his first child.  The intimacy that is conveyed once the investigation now includes the deeply personal question of how to safely bring a newborn baby into the world - how intimate and invasive the situation is with endocrine disruptors in our plastics and every part of our lives - is truly powerful.  Some of the biggest names in the field are interviewed (although I believe the film-makers are still “on hold” with the plastics industry).  The result is an engaging and intimate story combined with a very convincing global message that will leave you seriously examining your own relationship to plastic on every level.

"Eastern Rises"
Discussing the challenges of filming in Kamchatka
Pure Joy.  

A classic Mountainfilm adventure story journeys to the edges of our planet - in this case the spectacular (albeit mosquito infested) beauty of a most remote and pristine wilderness on the Kamchatka Peninsula of Russia.  
We already know that the team of Felt Soul Media are truly gifted film-makers.  Ben’s ability to make the experience of a film absolutely gorgeous has been apparent from his very first works.  What is less expected here is his use of wit and dry humor in this film.  Gorgeous shooting, music, art direction, character development, narration and editing are all perfectly timed and brilliant.  I watched the passion of these characters and though I have never landed a fish on a fly-rod, I could not get enough of their passion and love of the sport (which I almost want to call art).  I can’t wait to add this film to my growing Felt Soul Media collection!


Josh Fox talks about his film and dangers of hydraulic fracturing
Wow.  I wrote in my program the words “ABSOLUTELY INFURIATING” in bold red ink.  I had moments during the screening when I thought I would throw something at the screen.  Which is to say I would highly recommend it!  Josh is a fabulous film maker and this story needs to be heard.
This film is currently running on HBO’s documentary series, and is one that will grab you and make you ANGRY.  Anyone who thinks natural gas is a “natural” or acceptable alternative as a source of energy needs to see this film.  It definitely opened my eyes to a world of questions!

Please visit the Mountainfilm website to learn more.  

They also have a post including links to  most of the festival movie sites from the 2010 lineup here.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Urban Spring (with tunes!)

I've lived in the mountains for long enough that I forgot that spring was more than just mud and melting snow at a lower altitude.  Colors, trees, bees - couldn't get enough of it!
Here is a sampling of what I've tried to capture of urban spring set to "Dueling Guitars" from the August Rush soundtrack.  Enjoy in HD (full screen) for best experience!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What IS Mountainfilm??

One of many standing ovations in the packed Palm Theater

Every Memorial Day Weekend there comes a moment, a split second - during a film or a conversation with a film-maker, presenter, volunteer or festival goer - when  something crosses over in my soul and I find myself overwhelmed with admiration and gratitude.  It’s a feeling we all seem to exude throughout the weekend, experiencing a simultaneous sense of empowerment and deep humility, coupled with a profound sense of love for humanity.  

It is the inspired glow of Mountainfilm.

To my mind, this festival is a profound celebration of the very best of human spirit, intention and action.  

The magic begins when the films and presenters offer us a window through which to glimpse - and subsequently immerse ourselves - in the stories of people who are pushing boundaries, exploring edges, experiencing adventure and changing the world.  Mountainfilm offers a rare opportunity to witness - first hand - that hope really can inspire action, and action can ignite real change.  

Documentaries are the most powerful weapons in the world; they are weapons of mass construction.” Louie Psihoyos, (director of Academy Award winning “The Cove”) stated during the opening symposium this year.  

We all know that to see a great film - its story wrapped in music, shown through evocative image and told through intelligent narration - is a powerful experience of its own accord.  During Mountainfilm this experience is deepened immeasurably with the opportunity to hear and interact with the film-makers and subjects as they talk about their work.
Breakfast talk including Nat Geo photographer Joel Sartore, NPR's Alex Chadwick, "Bag It" director Susan Beraza, "The Cove" director Louie Psishoyos and "Gasland" director Josh Fox

Mountainfilm offers us each the chance to connect personally with people who inspire us.  Conversations at breakfast talks, in coffee shops and lines for films result in the cross pollination of ideas, the birth of new projects and the ability to meet those who will take ideas already in action to the next level.  

This year alone I witnessed so many incredible stories of lives changed - even saved - because of these connections.  “The Domino Effect of Mountainfilm”...

There was 13 year old Mieraf, who inspired tears and a standing ovation from a packed Palm Theater audience. She had traveled from Africa to read her letter of thanks to the Mountainfilm community after last year’s Moving Mountains Prize was awarded to Dr. Rick Hodes, who in turn used the prize money for life saving surgery on her. She wants to become a doctor and continue the gift she has been given.
Her letter can be read here.
Prudence Mahbena was brought to the festival with a showing of the award winning “Music by Prudence.” It was announced at the closing ceremony that the Mountainfilm connection will now better her life as well, as Dr. Hodes has found a surgeon who will perform complicated spinal surgery on her as well.

Several time Mountainfilm presenter Ben Skinner (far left) flew to Haiti to save the life of another former Mountainfilm guest, freed slave Bill Nathan, who was seriously injured during the earthquake when he jumped from the 4th story of the crumbling orphanage that he runs. I learned during the weekend that this life-saving flight and rescue was made possible because of another Mountainfilm connection, that of the generous Tom Shadyac.

The festival inevitably closes each year and I find myself profoundly aware of a renewed sense that there are real life heros in every single one of us.  Year after year Mountainfilm has inspired me to make lasting changes in my life.  I have set new goals for my work, both personal and professional.  My 10 year old son was inspired to take action based on his own environmental interest, simply having vicariously absorbed my Mountainfilm experience. 

Mountainfilm reminds us how spectacularly lucky we are to be alive, and that indeed we can all be heros - big or small - in our own lives, in our communities, on this precious planet.
All we have to do is make a choice.
Film makers and presenters lead a closing "Moment of NOISE for the Living"
There are many more photos and favorite moments of mine posted here.
Sending out Love + Gratitude to everyone who helps make Mountainfilm possible!