2011 MountainFilm in Telluride: Looking Back

2011 MountainFilm in Telluride: Looking Back


At Telluride Inside… and Out we mostly have our gaze fixed on "the now" or on the future. Before we move on to Bluegrass and the rest of the Summer schedule, I'd like to share my take on Mountainfilm in Telluride, now a week and a half in the rear-view mirror. This is not meant to be a review, but one person's impression of a weekend of inspiration, cautionary tales, beauty, and calls to action.

The tribute to Ambassador Richard Holbrooke was a standout, with intimate images of life with a famous father by sons David (Festival Director) and Anthony, juxtaposed with reminiscences by commentators on the world stage who knew Richard Holbrooke both on a personal and a professional level. The conversation among Roger Cohen, David Rohde and Vali Nasr particularly put the Holbrooke we in Telluride knew as a neighbor in a global perspective.

The evening we saw Roko Belic's "Happy" cannot be separated from the joy of hearing Prudence Mabhena in full voice, so recently recovered from her back surgery, an operation that came about because of the "Mountainfilm Connection." Beth and George Gage, local filmmakers, brought two films. "Bidder 70" is a work-in-progress about Tim DeChristopher's sabotaging the oil-lease auction in Utah. "From the Ground Up" is a beautiful work about the widows of firemen killed in the 9/11 disaster and their refusal to be ruled by anger and hatred.

Oscar Fernandez and Tosh Hall, from "Shakespeare High", made us laugh and cheer with their on-stage portrayal of a "tragic comedy."

The morning coffee session with Mountainfilm Executive Director, Peter Kenworthy; Outside Magazine's Chris Keyes; anthropologist Ted Callahan; and Telluride regular, Wade Davis discussing the controversy surrounding previous Mountainfilm presenter Greg Mortenson was a cautionary tale. The exchange was frank and accusations about Mortenson's truthfulness in his book, Three Cups of Tea, and the alledged financial misdeeds in his non-profit Central Asia Institute were talked about freely. I think many in the SRO crowd left with the feeling we may not be helping when we put our heroes on a pedestal.

The lines outside venues were, as always, an opportunity to share what we had seen, what we had heard, and even more, to catch up with friends we may see only at this time of year. This goes double for the closing picnic, where we learned what the judges and the audiences liked about the festival. The picnic is always a celebration of the community we are all a part of. The kicker, for me, was one more opportunity to hear Prudence sing, and to learn that Festival goers and particularly one anonymous donor had raised the money to build Prudence a house in her native Zimbabwe.

Enjoy the video, a quick overview of a magical weekend, Mountainfilm 2011.


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