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Mountainfilm Kicks off Festival Season in Telluride

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There are many film festivals around the world but there is only one Mountainfilm.

This “film festival” is the polar opposite of what most people picture a film festival to be. There are no paparazzi; the only cameras flashing are capturing the panoramic mountain views. There is no red carpet; the beige carpet (aka sidewalk) is covered by people waiting in line for the next film striking up thought provoking conversations. Festival-goers are not decked out in sparkly gowns and Louboutins; Patagonia and comfortable shoes are the attire of choice.

Welcome to Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride.  This is a festival that screens films that make you think and ponder “how can I make a difference in our world?” It is inspiring and can be a catalyst for change. It sheds light on really important subjects that often don’t get the attention they should. Mountainfilm opens your eyes, heart and mind to the crucial topics-some on the radar, others not-facing our world.

Since 1978, one of Telluride’s most beloved festivals has packed into four exhilarating days documentary films, outdoor movies under the stars, pioneering alpinists and incredible tales of adventure, a vibrant gallery walk, free ice cream social, wildly popular book fair and symposia. Above all, Mountainfilm has served as a one-of-a-kind gathering of artists, activists, change-makers, innovators and individuals.

Mountainfilm marks its 38th year as a documentary film festival this Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30. Mountainfilm is joining the nationwide celebration of the National Park Service Centennial by dedicating its Moving Mountains Symposium to the topic of America’s Best Idea. The symposium, which takes place in the Telluride Conference Center on May 27, will kick off the festival with speakers such as renowned western writer Terry Tempest Williams, historian and professor Douglas Brinkley and Betty Reid Soskin — at 94, the nation’s oldest currently serving national park ranger. The afternoon, meanwhile, will be devoted to a special Yellowstone session featuring a team of National Geographic contributors.

The aim, Holbrooke says, is to go beyond the beauty and back-slapping of the park discussion and delve into meatier issues like minorities in parks, the future of park stewardship and environmental threats.

The symposium is only the beginning. Mountainfilm will feature roughly 80 documentaries of all lengths and an array of subject matter. This year’s lineup includes Oscar nominee Josh Fox’s new film How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change; The Great Alone, which chronicles the extraordinary life of four-time Iditarod champion Lance Mackey; and E.O. Wilson: Of Ants and Men, a portrait of the brilliant and influential scientist E.O. Wilson.

Mountainfilm theaters aren’t reserved just for documentaries, either; presenters will fill stages with adventure tales, climate discussions and incredible stories. Renowned wild life photographer Paul Nicklen, solo explorer Sarah Marquis and a special tribute to the conservationist Doug Tompkins are all part of the 2016 presentation lineup.

Even with all of that, Festival Director David Holbrooke says he’s particularly excited about the out-of-theater programming Mountainfilm has in store. The festival is planning its first ever Virtual Reality Studio — where audiences can experience the immersive new technology of VR — along with special art and athlete installations and a spotlight on the emerging topic of nature as medicine. Says Holbrooke, “One of the things we have tried hard to do is use Telluride as a theater into itself.”

A majority of this blog’s content was written by Katie Klingsporn 

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