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Telluride Mountain Film

                

About Mountainfilm

Our mission: Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.

Mountainfilm: The Festival

Started in 1979, Mountainfilm in Telluride is one of America’s longest-running film festivals. Through the years, in and out of trends and fads, the Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival has always been best described by one unchanging word: inspiring. Far more than any other adjective, that’s how festival audiences describe their experience.

In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a critical contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, a book signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony. Presentations and panels are scheduled throughout the Memorial Day weekend event with a wide diversity of special guests, ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists.

Our mission: Mountainfilm is dedicated to educating and inspiring audiences about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.

Mountainfilm: The Festival

Started in 1979, Mountainfilm in Telluride is one of America’s longest-running film festivals. Through the years, in and out of trends and fads, the Mountainfilm in Telluride Festival has always been best described by one unchanging word: inspiring. Far more than any other adjective, that’s how festival audiences describe their experience.

In addition to screening leading independent documentary films from around the world, the festival includes a full-day symposium on a critical contemporary issue, art and photography exhibits, early morning coffee talks, a book signing party, an ice cream social, student programs and a closing picnic/awards ceremony. Presentations and panels are scheduled throughout the Memorial Day weekend event with a wide diversity of special guests, ranging from artists to adventurers and academics to activists.

While nothing can replace experiencing the festival in person, this short video, “What is Mountainfilm,” captures the essence nicely:

Just as the festival is made up of many moving parts, so is the organization overall.  Here's a brief rundown on what else we’re up to:

Mountainfilm on Tour

Year-round and worldwide, we take a selection of festival films out on the road. We present both single-event and multi-day shows, hosted by a wide array of organizations, including schools and colleges, corporations, community groups and theater operators. Through the tour, we touch the lives of some 20,000 people every year and visit more than 70 locations on five continents.

Mountainfilm on TV

Through a partnership with Outside Television—a cable channel reaching over 61 million viewers annually across the country—we've expanded our audience far beyond the reach of the festival and the tour. Festival films, as well as interviews with filmmakers and special guests shot at the festival, screen on Outside TV four nights a week at prime time. If Outside TV serves your community, don’t miss it! If it doesn't, go to Outsidetelevision.com and give them your zip code so that they can bring Mountainfilm on TV into your home.

Mountainfilm in the Classroom: Making Movies that Matter

Mountainfilm's school program introduces students to essential environmental, cultural and social issues through hands-on film editing projects. After watching a content-rich film from our festival archives, students have permission from the filmmaker to use images and sequences from the film to edit their own short adaptation and call to action. They make the work truly their own by adding graphics, music, voiceover, subtitles and special effects.  The combination of practical and cognitive learning skills thrills teachers. Students love working in a “cool” medium that is a prevalent part of their daily lives.

The Mountainfilm Commitment Grant

In the interest of helping individuals tell important stories—and have those stories heard—we award five $5,000 grants annually. The recipients are filmmakers, artists, photographers and adventurers whose projects are intended to move audiences to action on issues that matter. This is our way of giving back to the amazing community of filmmakers and other content providers that have generously supported Mountainfilm over the decades.

Our History

The Mountainfilm festival began in 1979, a time when Telluride was completing its transition from a hard-rock gold and silver mining community to a destination resort and ski town. The new era ushered a vital new energy and economic life into Telluride’s breath-taking box-canyon but, as they had been since the days of the Ute Indians, the changeless, rugged mountains remained the leading attraction.

It was Lito Tejada-Flores, fresh from screening his now-classic adventure and mountaineering film Fitzroy at the Trento festival in Italy, and Bill Kees, a local climber and avid outdoorsman, who inaugurated Mountainfilm in Telluride. Over three nights at the historic Sheridan Opera House, they screened a dozen films, all about mountains: mountain sports, mountain cultures, mountain issues. During the days, the audiences took to the mountains themselves, climbing the thirteen- and fourteen-thousand-foot peaks with skis on their backs; kayaking the San Miguel River, swollen with snowmelt; and engaging in spirited dialogue about the importance of wild places, adventure, art and action.

The first festivals attracted leading names in mountaineering and exploration: Royal Robbins, Yvon Chouinard, David Breashears and others. With their help, the Memorial Day weekend event quickly became a not-to-be-missed tradition for an ever-expanding circle of pioneers in diverse fields—from athletes to environmentalists and scientists to poets. Mountains soon became as much a metaphorical theme as a literal one and, as the festival expanded in size and recognition, its programming readily stretched to the leading edges of critical contemporary issues.

In 1999, Mountainfilm significantly grew the scope of its operation with the introduction of Mountainfilm on Tour. By taking festival films to theaters across the country and internationally, Mountainfilm accessed large and diverse new audiences that would otherwise have no window into the filmmakers’ unique and important work.

Today, the Mountainfilm festival occupies dozens of venues in Telluride and Mountain Village and fills the two towns with inspiring thinkers and doers. In addition to showcasing leading independent films and filmmakers, the festival now includes symposia and panels, gallery exhibits of art and photography, book-signings, breakfast talks, student programs, music and street parties. The essential combination that first set the festival apart, though—friends, adventure, passion and powerful ideas—remains firmly intact.