Mountainfilm: 2017 Presenters

Mountainfilm: 2017 Presenters

Mountainfilm takes place Friday-Monday, May 26- May 29, 2017. Purchases passes here. Also see story on Mountainfilm’s symposium and subject of its new initiative, The New Normal, here. Volunteer for Mountainfilm here. Presenters presented below.


Erik Weihenmayer, a blind adventurer who has summited Mount Everest and kayaked the Grand Canyon, will be one of the presenters at Mountainfilm 2017.


They have researched orangutans in the canopies of Borneo, kite-boarded across Greenland to run uncharted rivers, reported on the wars of Yugoslavia, and kayaked the Grand Canyon blind.

And they are coming to  Mountainfilm.

Mountainfilm’s 2017 theater presenters includes seasoned journalists, accomplished wildlife photographers, audacious explorers, and Telluride’s own community theatre troupe.

“It’s a diverse array of presenters lined up for the fest this year,” said Mountainfilm Festival Director David Holbrooke. “We’re looking at everything from current geopolitics to how nature heals.”

The 2017 roster features New York Times op-ed columnist Roger Cohen; National Geographic photographer  Tim Laman and his wife, biological anthropologist Cheryl Knott; polar-exploration trio Sarah McNair-Landry, Erik Boomer, and Ben Stookesberry; Telluride storyteller Mitch Mishky; author and nature journalist Florence Williams; blind explorer Erik Weihenmayer; and a batch of National Geographic Young Explorers.


National Geographic Young Explorer Chris Johns, courtesy, Mountainfilm.


These speakers will give presentations on Saturday and Sunday of the festival, May 27 and 28, in select theaters.

All the speakers are massively impressive,” Holbrooke said, “but we’re particularly happy to have Erik Weihenmayer here.”

Weihenmayer, who has climbed the Seven Summits and, more recently, kayaked all 277 miles of the Grand Canyon without sight, “embodies the indomitable spirit we love to celebrate at Mountainfilm,” added Holbrooke.

Along with traditional presentations, Mountainfilm is partnering with local theater company Telluride Theatre for a totally new kind of experience. Telluride Theatre is working with the New York City-based company Talking Band to create a stage performance that mixes activism, environmental issues, and drama. The play will be performed at Mountainfilm’s new Off-Width Theater in The Black Box adjacent to the Palm.

“We’re excited to work with our good friends at Telluride Theatre to bring a play that will transform the way we look at issues and the world,” Holbrooke said.

Mountainfilm’s 2017 Theater Presenter Lineup:

Journalist Roger Cohen has been with The New York Times since 1990, working as a foreign correspondent, foreign editor and, most recently, op-ed columnist whose pieces on the Trump administration and international relations appear every Wednesday and Saturday. Born in London and raised in South Africa, he is a naturalized American citizen whose career has taken him from Beirut to Berlin, Iran to the Balkans.

Tim Laman and Cheryl Knott are not your typical married couple. Laman is a field biologist and wildlife photojournalist whose striking images of birds of paradise, spiked-nosed tree frogs, probiscus monkeys, and other little-known species have graced the pages of National Geographic many times. Knott, meanwhile, is a biological anthropologist who earned a Ph.D. from Harvard, where she went on to serve as associate professor of anthropology. Most recently, with their two children in tow, the couple lived and worked in Borneo’s Gunung Palung National Park, where they studied, documented, and revealed critical threats to the park’s orangutans.

• As the daughter of Arctic guides who grew up roaming the wilderness of Baffin Island via kite skis and sled dogs, Sarah McNair-Landry was raised on polar exploration. Erik Boomer is an Idaho native and kayaking hardman known both for running massive whitewater drops and embarking on intrepid expeditions — such as circumnavigating Ellesmere Island in the Canadian Arctic with Jon Turk. And kayaker Ben Stookesberry has made a career of achieving first descents on wild and unexplored rivers from Colombia and Papua New Guinea. When the three of them put their heads together for an expedition, the result was as epic and far-flung as you might imagine: traversing the Greenland Ice Sheet on kite skis before paddling a first descent of a barely known Arctic river.

• Pinball wizard, bus driver, and emcee extraordinaire, Mitch Mishky has had odd jobs and weird adventures as long as he can remember. He is Telluride’s trivia host, stargazing guide, and voice of The Ride Festival. In 2016, Mishky left Telluride for a traveling gig with Weber, teaching people how to grill. Instead he ended up on a whirlwind adventure.

• You might think a town as small as Telluride would have a theater troupe corresponding in size and scope. Not so, thanks to Telluride Theatre. The local company, which formed in 2011 when the avant-garde SquidShow Theatre merged with the long-running Telluride Repertory Theatre, produces a year-round slate of theatrical treasures for Telluride audiences: musicals, original works, comedies, educational pieces, Shakespeare plays, holiday performances, and its one-and-only burlesque shows.

• With a string of long-form articles on such topics as forest bathing, the effects of natural fractal patterns on our brains, the science of negative sounds, and the benefits of nature on kids with ADHD, Florence Williams is the preeminent modern journalist who labors at the intersection of health, science, and the environment. She is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, and her work has also appeared in National Geographic, New York Times Magazine, Mother Jones and Slate. Williams recently traveled around the world on a quest to investigate the science behind nature and well-being, which became the basis for her new book, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative.”


Nature writer Florence Williams, courtesy, Mountainfilm.


• Erik Weihenmayer is a consummate adventurer: He has stood atop of Mt. Everest, climbed the Seven Summits, and kayaked the entire 277-mile length of the Grand Canyon. And he did it all blind: Weihenmayer lost his sight as a teenager in Connecticut after being struck by retinoschisis. From the beginning, though, he resisted the notion that blindness would sideline him. His accomplishments in the outdoor realm have followed a deep belief in shattering barriers that also led him to found an organization and movement, No Barriers.

• Each year, Mountainfilm brings a handful of National Geographic Society’s Young Explorer Grant (YEG) recipients to the festival presentations and exhibits. The 2017 crop of “YEGs” includes photographer Chris Johns, who is researching a tiny and little-known moth endemic to the cloud forests of Hawaii; photographer Louise Johns, who is chronicling the changing relationship between ranchers and nature in Montana; Cameron Kruse, who is documenting the last reconstruction of the highest road in the world in northern India; and Victoria Herrmann, who is chronicling the citizens on the margins of America who have been largely cropped out of the country’s climate change portrait.

About Mountainfilm:

Established in 1979, Mountainfilm is dedicated to using 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.

To learn more, go here.

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