Matt Morris

Matt Morris

Editor’s note: This year marks Mountainfilm’s 35th festival and the event is stronger than ever. Those running the show feel Mountainfilm’s vital longevity is thanks to many people: volunteers, staff, audiences and, of course, filmmakers, artists, and guests. Some people who have taken the stage have helped shape Mountainfilm in Telluride. To celebrate their longtime involvement, Mountainfilm asked a few of them to express their feelings about the unique tribe and weekend. This blog is by filmmaker Matt Morris.

When I submitted my first documentary short, “Pickin’ & Trimmin’,” to Mountainfilm in 2008, my motivation was simple: I just wanted to go to Telluride. I’d just started submitting to film festivals and, as far as I was concerned, Mountainfilm was no different than the myriad of other festivals around the country, except that it was in a beautiful town that I had always wanted to visit. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Leading up to my first Mountainfilm, I’d get one of two reactions when I mentioned the festival. Either people would ask, “What is Mountainfilm?” or their eyes would widen moments before they launched into a breathless, enthusiastic soliloquy about the festival. It was the latter response that had me wondering what made Mountainfilm so different.

Once I arrived in Telluride, it didn’t take me long to realize something special was going on. The houses are always packed, and the audiences are the most enthusiastic I’ve ever come across. Find me another film festival where people cheer during the promotional trailer before the film!

The films are exciting, entertaining, challenging, enlightening and inspiring. You’ll meet the subjects of the films, as well as the filmmakers, further solidifying a personal connection with what you’ve just seen. This year, I’ll be attending the festival with my short documentary “American Tintype which is about a photographer named Harry Taylor who discovered a passion for the 150-year-old craft of tintype photography after a personal tragedy. Harry will be in attendance at the festival with a gallery show, as well as popping up at events with his camera. Festival-goers will have the unique opportunity be able to speak to him in person and observe the process of tintype photography up close.

Unlike most festivals, Mountainfilm isn’t satisfied with merely presenting a film to an audience. They want you to carry the experiences with you, to learn from the ideas and issues and, with the help of breakfast talks and symposium events, guide you along a clear path to action in order to make the world a better place.

Where, other than Mountainfilm, can you eat ice cream in the middle of main street, the beautiful San Juan mountains towering in the distance, while having conversations with adventurers, Nobel prize winners, farmers, athletes, filmmakers, musicians and activists? What other film festival has filmmakers return year after year, regardless of whether they have a film screening, just to be able to experience it again?

Ultimately, answering the question “What is Mountainfilm?” in any succinct way is difficult. However, if you’re reading this, I strongly suggest you go make a film or buy a pass so you can spend memorial day weekend answering that question for yourself. I guarantee it will change your life, and you will come back year after year.

Congratulations. Mountainfilm, on 35 years of enriching lives through the celebration of indomitable spirit! See you soon!

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