Kevin Pearce, star of The Crash Reel" & director Lucy Walker

Kevin Pearce, star of The Crash Reel” & director Lucy Walker

“Beautiful but not showy…”

That’s the phrase survivors used to describe their cherished cherry blossoms in director Lucy Walker‘s Oscar-nominated “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.”

“Beautiful but not showy” also sums up Walker: the person and her films.

The year before, in 2010, audiences at Mountainfilm in Telluride were treated to “Waste Land,” an uplifting feature-length documentary that follows art star Vik Muniz on an emotional journal that takes him from New York to Jardim Gramacho, the world’s largest garbage dump on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, where the native Brazilian collaborates with “catadores,” garbage pickers, to create portraits of reluctant artists.

In “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom,” which also screened at Mountainfilm (in 2011), survivors explore the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and somehow find the courage to re-imagine and rebuild their lives when cherry blossom season begins anew.

“Waste Land” and “Tsunami” are ultimately about the transformative power of art – man-made and in the natural world– and the beauty and resiliency of the human spirit.

The beauty and resiliency of the human spirit.

How we deal with the lemons life inevitably hands us.

Those are among the leitmotifs that unite Walker’s apparently disparate body of work – including her latest doc, “The Crash Reel,” (produced by HBO Documentaries), which revisits the idea that with hard work and perseverance anything is possible.

Even a Phoenix-like resurrection.

images“The Crash Reel” is one of about 70 films selected by David Holbrooke and his team (out of  about 500 submissions) to be screened at the 35th annual Mountainfilm in Telluride.

“Crash Reel” tells the dramatic story of an unforgettable athlete and champion, Kevin Pearce; the eye-popping sport of snowboarding; and an explosive, timely issue, Traumatic Brain Injury. Through 20 years of astounding action and verité footage, Walker’s latest documentary chronicles the epic rise of the snowboarder and a life-changing crash. In this portrait of an extraordinary family confronted with the devastating injury of a son and brother, everyone comes together to help Kevin, an abundantly gifted young man, re-discover himself and find renewed purpose and meaning in the wake of a lost dream.

The first screening of “The Crash Reel” is Friday night, 6:50p.m., at The Palm. (A second film by Walker, “Secrets of Mongolian Archers,” has its first showing Saturday, May 25, 10:20 a.m. at The Masons.)

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to what Lucy Walker has to say.

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