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!

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