Mountainfilm: Announcing 2016 Commitment Grant Winners

Mountainfilm: Announcing 2016 Commitment Grant Winners

Thanks to Telluride Mountainfilm, 10 stellar projects nab cash and equipment to help get their stories out, since receiving 2016 Commitment Grants.

Images from Silent Forest, one of Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners. [Photos courtesy of Mariah Wilson].

Images from Silent Forest, one of Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners. [Photos courtesy of Mariah Wilson].

Nepali honey hunters practicing a dwindling and precipitous tradition; a father-and-son team attempting to recreate the Ice Age in the Arctic north; an aging climber tackling a daunting route from his past; a team of conservationists battling the alarming decline of elephants in Central Africa. These are among the timely, fascinating, and crucial stories being told by Telluride Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners.  

Mountainfilm recently announced the 2016 winners and will divvy up $25,000 in cash, along with Apple Macbook Pro computers and GoPro cameras, among the winners. The announcement marks the end of a deliberation process that began in July with more than 130 letters of interest. A committee of six judges first whittled it down to 20 finalists before selecting 10 winners. 

“An outstanding pool of submissions on important issues made the judging process incredibly tough, said Mountainfilm executive director Sage Martin. “A large pool of high-caliber submissions that spanned a range of inspiring topics made the judging process even more challenging than usual, but it recharged our batteries to have an intimate view into these special projects.”

Mountainfilm launched its Commitment Grant Initiative in 2010 as a way to support creatives who tell stories that align with the organization’s mission to inspire audiences to create a better world. For the first five years, Mountainfilm divided $25,000 among five winners, but expanded that number to 10 with a tiered model in 2016.

Martin said Mountainfilm is excited to grow the love.

“We’re thrilled to increase the number of projects that we support and can’t wait to share them with the Mountainfilm community.”

Mountainfilm Festival Director David Holbrooke said he is also excited to support these projects as they unfold.

“I look forward to working with these talented filmmakers and to see their projects come to the big screen. I am confident that they will reach the high standards we expect of our programming at Mountainfilm,” he said.


Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners:

Ben Ayers, The Last Honey Hunter — $5,000 and Apple Macbook Pro

Ben Ayers, who works for the dZi Foundation and is a frequent Mountainfilm guest, is working with a team of filmmakers, which includes Ben Knight and Renan Ozturk, on a film that documents a singular, threatened and treacherous tradition of collecting a special poisonous honey on the cliffs of Nepal.

Libby Spears, PC594: The Art of Rebellion — $5,000 and Apple Macbook Pro

This documentary follows LA street artist, activist, and single mother Lydia Emily as she confronts a crippling diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, while creating socially conscious and bold murals around the world.

Cassidy Friedman, Circles — $5,000 and Apple Macbook Pro 

“Circles” tells the story of Eric Butler, a former football star and Hurricane Katrina refuge, as he shakes up a troubled Oakland high school with an unorthodox approach to keeping black and Latino kids in school. But his biggest challenge is raising his own son, Tre, in a neighborhood dominated by gangs and drug dealers.

Mariah Wilson, Silent Forests — $2,500 and Apple Macbook Pro 

Still image from Silent Forest, one of Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners. [Photos courtesy of Mariah Wilson]

Still image from Silent Forest, one of Mountainfilm’s 2016 Commitment Grant winners. [Photos courtesy of Mariah Wilson]

“Silent Forests” follows an effort to save elephants in Central Africa through the stories of a variety of characters, including Cameroon’s first female eco-guard, a former poacher, a Congolese biologists studying elephant communication, and a team of anti-poaching sniffer dogs led by a Czech conservationist.

Erin Palmquist, From Baghdad to the Bay — $2,500 and Apple Macbook Pro 

Ghazwan Alsharif, the subject of this documentary project, worked as a translator for U.S. forces during the war in Iraq before being wrongfully accused of espionage and tortured. The film follows eight years of his life in San Francisco as he struggles to rebuild while also coming out as gay.

Ben Mullinkosson, Osama and Ayman — $1,000 and GoPro Camera 

Mountainfilm alumnus Ben Mullinkosson, the filmmaker behind “Gnarly in Pink,” is working on a doc about two Muslim brothers who love to skate.

Grant Slater, Creating Pleistocene Park — $1,000 and GoPro Camera 

Sergey and Nikita Zimov are attempting to recreate the Ice Age in the Arctic north by populating a park with reindeer, moose, and possibly even genetically re-created wooly mammoths. The effort is for more than novelty: The father and son hope to find a way to defuse a carbon time bomb that lies beneath the permafrost.

Jordan Halland, Gold Paints the Mountains — $1,000 and GoPro Camera

Jordan Halland, a Western filmmaker with previous worked for Mountainfilm, points his lens at an innovative adaptation to climate change in Peru, where a town has painted a hillside white to preserve the glacier it depends on for water — as well as the memory of the man who came up with the practice.

Sara Terry, That’s How We Roll — $1,000 and GoPro Camera

This feature-length documentary by former Mountainfilm filmmaker Sara Terry chronicles the uniquely American phenomenon of mobile home parks in the context of the country’s growing affordable housing crisis.

Dawn Kish and John Sherman, Old Man Lightning — $1,000 and GoPro Camera

This film project fuses humor, adventure, and conservation by following aging and legendary boulderer John Sherman as he sets out to send an infamous boulder problem and, at the same time, save the critically endangered California condor. (“Old Man Lightning” is also winner of the 2016 American Alpine Club-sponsored Commitment Grant.)


About Mountainfilm:

Established in 1979, Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world. Working at the nexus of filmmaking and action, its flagship program is the legendary Telluride Mountainfilm festival, a one-of-a-kind combination of films, conversations and inspiration. Mountainfilm also reaches audiences year-round through its worldwide tour and Mountainfilm for Students, an educational outreach initiative for youth. Mountainfilm has the power to change lives.

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