MountainFilm back to cheer up gloomy town

In an alleged winter besotted by gray skies and cold rain, the Telluride MountainFilm On Tour festival has just the prescription. It actually includes two doses of “Nature Rx” — short films that could result in “authenticity, confidence, spontaneous euphoria or being in a good mood for no apparent reason,” as the films are described.

For the 16th year in Homer, the annual fundraiser for Community Recreation brings films from the Telluride, Colo., MountainFilm Festival and shows them on two nights. At 7 p.m. today and Saturday are two different batches of films about 150 minutes total with emcee Maani Sheva doing introductions. It mixes outdoor adventure films with social commentary.

“We really pay attention to staying true to our roots with the adventure film festival,” said Henry Lystad, tour director. “More and more we’re interested in making the planet a better place to live.”

Classic outdoor adventure films include shorts like “Strange Rumblings,” about surfing in Iceland, or “A Line Across the Sky,” about climbing Patagonia’s Fitz Roy Massif. If you want shredding Alaska slopes, Angel Collinson’s segment for “Almost Ablaze” has it. MountainFilm also comes up with new twists for backcountry feats, like skiing at night with LED light-studded suits in “Afterglow” or biking urban Mexican streets in “Taxco Urban Downhill.”

Environmental commentary features films like “A Line in the Sand” or “Leave It As It Is,” two films on saving the Grand Canyon and the Colorado River. The series also presents quirky adventures like a stand-up paddleboard trip down the Colorado River to the sea when water managers allow a pulse of water to rehydrate the last parched portion.

Lystad said MountainFilm wants to feature more films about women adventurers and directed by women — a challenge in an industry dominated by men. Films featuring woman include “Making Waves,” about a Muslim woman surfing Morocco, and “Knee Deep,” a woman directed and produced film about the Boulder, Colo., flood.

Other films include profiles of people overcoming adversity, humorous pieces on mountain biking and creative invention, and probably the tear-jerker of the weekend, “Denali.” That film explores the dog-human bond and how you say good-bye to a special canine friend who helped you survive cancer. 

New for this year is MountainFilm for students, a mini-fest shown at 2:30 p.m. Friday for Homer High School’s Focus on Learning period.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

Telluride MountainFilm on Tour

Where: Homer High School Mariner Theatre

Cost: Admission, $10 a person per night

Tickets on sale at the Community Recreation Office or the Homer Bookstore


Thursday, Jan. 14

5:30 p.m.  — Ski and winter gear swap

7 p.m. — MountainFilm, first set

Friday, Jan. 15

2:30 p.m. — MountainFilm for students (Focus on Learning period; for high school students)

Saturday, Jan. 16

7 p.m. — MountainFilm, second set



Thursday films

A Line in the Sand: One of three short films done in collaboration with The Grand Canyon Trust and directed by Justin Clifton, this film is aimed at raising public support for protection of threatened parts of Canyonlands.

Rabbit Island: In the middle of Lake Superior is Rabbit Island, 91 acres of undeveloped rocks, earth, trees and wild habitat. The film looks at a place where the point is to do nothing and see what we can learn.

We Are Fire: Oscar-nominated director Orlando von Einsiedel looks at the Gulabi Gang, women in Uttar Pradesh, an area of northern India where domestic and sexual violence is common. Their goal is to help victimized women gain economic security, confidence and safety.

California: Paradise Burning: Shot in black-and-white, Paradise Burning focuses on farmers and farmworkers affected by a four-year drought in California’s Central Valley.

Japan By Van: Cruise some of Japan’s top-secret backcountry.

The Reinvention of Normal: Artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox chronicles his quest to invent something creative every day — toothbrush maracas, an umbrella with plant pots, a tea cup cooling fan and the reverse bungee. 

Strange Rumblings: Iceland Segment: Surfers Nate Tyler, Dion Agius and Brendon Gibbens trace graceful lines amid icebergs in the frozen waters of Iceland.

Knee Deep:A 1,000-year downpour devastated Boulder, Colo., with small communities in the foothills the most damaged. The film shows shows how the 

Mudslingers, a brigade of volunteers with shovels and buckets, rallied to lend a hand to those most in need.

Eddie Masters Gets Fat: Pro rider Eddie Masters extols the virtues of fat bikes and crush cheeseburgers.

Nature Rx – 1: Feeling tired, irritable or stressed out? Try nature. 

James Kelly — Burn it Down: Skate down big mountain roads with James Kelly.

Vasu Sojitra: Out on a Limb: At 9 months old, Vasu Sojitra lost his right leg in an amputation. Out on a Limb is a short profile of an individual proving that disability can be a mere hiccup instead of an impediment to your dreams.

The Important Places: Forest Woodward discovers a poem his father wrote when he was born, with the line “May you always remember the path that leads back, back to the important places.” Woodward challenges his father to recreate a 1970 trip down the Grand Canyon.

Sufferfest 2: Desert Alpine: Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold film go on an exhausting quest to bag more than 40 desert towers in a couple of weeks by bicycle.

Taxco Urban Downhill: Kelly McGarry: McGarry bikes down cobbled alleys in Mexico.


Saturday films

The Coast: Skip Armstrong’s film looks at a life choice Hayden Peters made at age 30 because of a health issue. Trading city life for the coast, Peters finds inspiration in the Oregon coastline.

Delta Dawn: When American officials allow a pulse of water to bring the final miles of the Colorado River back into Mexico, Pete McBride recreates the journey he did in 2011’s “Chasing Water.” On a stand-up paddleboard expediton, he finds ecosystems returning to life.

Making Waves: Terrific surf breaks are off limits to most local Muslim women — but not for 17-year-old Oumaima Erhali, who is determined to partake in the sport she loves.

Denali: How do you say goodbye to your best friend after he stuck by your side during the darkest time in your life? This short film by Ben Knight, Ben Moon and Skip Armstrong celebrates the human-dog bond.

Afterglow: This ski film was made at night in the backcountry of Alaska and British Columbia using ski suits studded with LED lights.

No Ordinary Passenger: 86-year-old Stan Dibben recalls winning the 1953 World Sidecar Championship, a postwar event that has faded into history.

The Thousand Year Journey: Oregon to Patagonia: Jedidiah Jenkins quit his job to ride his bicycle from Oregon to the southern tip of Patagonia. Friend and filmmaker Kenny Laubbacher joined him for a month and a half to pose the question: Why? 

I Am Able: After losing his hands in 1994 to Interahamwe militia members during the Rwandan genocide, Frederick Ndabaramiye finds new life through painting. His Ubumwe Community Center helps children and adults with disabilities challenge the idea of what it means to be “able” across the country and the world.

Darkwoods BMX: Deep in the forest of South Wales, BMX riders Drew Benzanson and Morgan Wade built their dream playground of ramps, rollers and walls.

Nature Rx – 2: Another dose of nature.

Leave it As it Is: “Leave it as it is. You cannot improve upon it,” President Teddy Roosevelt said of the Grand Canyon. Today the Grand Canyon and Colorado River are threatened by uranium pollution and water diversion. Peter McBride’s film looks at these threats and reminds us that the Grand Canyon belongs not to developers or industrialists — but to the people.

Angel Collinson: In her Almost Ablaze segment, 24-year-old Angel Collinson skis challenging slopes in Alaska. Her film won Powder Award’s Best Female Performance, and was the first female segment to ever open a Teton Gravity Research film.

A Line Across the Sky: The “line” in this film is the Fitz Roy Massif, the mother of all climbing traverses. Patagonia’s iconic toothy skyline traces seven summits, spans 4 miles and includes 13,000 imposing vertical feet of rime- and snow-covered climbing. “A Line Across the Sky” follows climbers Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold on a push to complete the epic route. 

Drainage Ditch Kayak: In the suspense novel Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn writes, “If you’re about to do something, and you want to know if it’s a bad idea, imagine seeing it printed in the paper for all the world to see.” But sometimes bad ideas become brilliant films.

A still from “Dark Woods.”-Photo provided

A still from “Dark Woods.”-Photo provided

A still from “Denali.”-Photo provided

A still from “Denali.”-Photo provided

Tags: ,