Mountainfilm hits screens

Population symposium kicks off weekend festival in Telluride

Mountainfilm Festival-goers check out a station at a sustainable living event at the 2011 festival. The festival in Telluride will begin today and runs through Monday with documentary films, art exhibits, presentations and discussions about outdoor adventure, exploration, environmental, cultural and social issues. Enlarge photo

Jeremy Baron/Mountainfilm of Telluride

Mountainfilm Festival-goers check out a station at a sustainable living event at the 2011 festival. The festival in Telluride will begin today and runs through Monday with documentary films, art exhibits, presentations and discussions about outdoor adventure, exploration, environmental, cultural and social issues.

Mountainfilm in Telluride will hold its 34th annual festival over Memorial Day Weekend with a program of about 70 films and an eclectic roster of scientists, artists, writers, adventurers and filmmakers.

True to the festival’s roots, there are plenty of films about life in the mountains, but there also are a host of films about the greater world.

The festival will kick off today with a close look at the complicated subject of population. More than a dozen speakers, each focusing on a different area of expertise, will address the subject during the daylong Moving Mountains Symposium.

“With the symposium theme of population, we have several outstanding films that look at critical environmental, cultural and social issues that will blow people away,” said festival director David Holbrooke. “And then, sometimes there are films that don’t fit any particular genre, but they have a place at Mountainfilm because they’re outstanding and celebrate indomitable spirit.”

The festival will continue through Monday with programming that will inform audiences about subjects that range from outdoor adventure and exploration to critical environmental, cultural and social issues. In addition to the films and symposium, art exhibitions, guest presentations and discussions round out the festival weekend.

A sampling of Mountainfilm’s 2012 film selections:

“Ai Weiwei – Never Sorry”: Artist Ai Weiwei is a major cultural and political force in China whose fearlessness shines through in this documentary by first-time filmmaker Alison Klayman.

“Bidder 70” – Telluride filmmakers Beth and George Gage tell the unprecedented story of climate activist Tim DeChristopher, who has taken civil disobedience to a new level.

“Chasing Ice” – Photographer James Balog set up time-lapse cameras and focused these truth-tellers on glaciers around the world. The result is a groundbreaking film about climate change and a harbinger of an uncertain future.

“Darwin” – This haunting film about a small, remote Californian desert town weaves together the story of its boom/bust mining history, the mysterious nearby military base where secret weapons are tested and the residents who have chosen to live life on their own terms.

“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom” – This stunningly beautiful film by Lucy Walker (director of “Waste Land”) movingly melds the seemingly disparate topics of the Japanese tsunami and the onset of the traditional Cherry Blossom season.

“Living Downstream” – Sandra Steingraber is a quietly powerful voice who makes the link between our environment and our health by telling her own story and extrapolating it to the many unnatural toxins in our world.

“Winter’s Wind” – Skiing is life: That’s the motto for this allegorical – yet very real – ode to the ski bum.

Holbrooke points out that this year’s festival will continue in the same direction it’s been heading: “The guests, films and artists all cover a broad range of interests, and we’re sure that everyone will find something at Mountainfilm that moves them.”

Festival-goers watching a documentary outdoors at “Base Camp” in Telluride. Enlarge photo

GUS GUSCIORA/Mountainfilm of Telluride

Festival-goers watching a documentary outdoors at “Base Camp” in Telluride.

Kids wear plastic-bag outfits to highlight the proliferation of the bags at the 2011 festival. Enlarge photo

Jeremy Baron/Mountainfilm of Telluride

Kids wear plastic-bag outfits to highlight the proliferation of the bags at the 2011 festival.

A Mountainfilm Festival banner flies in Telluride last year. Enlarge photo

MELISSA PLANTZ/Mountainfilm of Telluride

A Mountainfilm Festival banner flies in Telluride last year.

Prayer flags flutter in the wind at the 2011 Mountainfilm Festival. Enlarge photo

JENNIFER KOSKINEN/Mountainfilm of Telluride

Prayer flags flutter in the wind at the 2011 Mountainfilm Festival.