A mountain of film: Mountainfilm tour fills Vilar with adventure-packed action
Adventure documentaries are some of the most inspiring films out there; they rev viewers up to push their own boundaries, whether that’s exploring their own backyard more deeply or traveling abroad for adventure. Thursday’s Mountainfilm on Tour presents a curated series of documentaries from the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride, held every Memorial Day weekend.
“(Telluride Mountainfilm) is a crucible for storytelling talent from the past, present and, most importantly, the future. Its importance among our tribe cannot be overstated,” said Jimmy Chin, an adventurer, photographer and director who debuted his first film at the festival.
This year’s theme is indomitable spirit, and the 105 minutes of collective films cover activities from skiing to mountain biking and include adaptive athletes. The eight films, ranging from 3 minutes to 30 minutes, feature Oscar-winning directors, pro athletes and outdoor industry leaders.
“We are excited to bring Mountainfilm on Tour to our local community this year. Their wide variety of documentary short films we hope will spark conversation, reflection and inspiration for the new 2023 year,” said Ruthie Hamrick, marketing director for Vilar Performing Arts Center, which, along with Vail Symposium, is hosting the tour that has come to the Vail Valley since 2002.
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“North Shore Betty” kicks off the evening with Betty Birrell, who has been biking the fast, rollicking wooden roller coasters of British Columbia for nearly 30 years. She has become a legend, pushing her own limits and instilling the love for the outdoors, and at age 73, she continues to reinvent herself and inspire younger generations to get out and enjoy the world’s outdoor playground.
“Trustfall” soars as world-class wingsuit flyers reveal their love for not just flying, but also one another. Their romance depicts trust and compatibility as they freefall through partnership and show viewers what it’s like to fly.
“Bacon ‘n’ Laces” breaks barriers through the story of a blind, single father who not only manages a diner outside New York City, but also has an affection for his classic sneakers. This playful portrait of a dad and his kids reminds people to not let their struggles ultimately limit them.
“The Farmer” is something I personally wish every skier and rider would watch and conform to; just think of how many more powder turns we could all get if everyone farmed fresh powder like David Van Dame, who “harvests” powder by laying down exact tracks next to each other in the Cottonwood Canyon. This is a must-see 4-minute film to benefit all powder lovers. That said, if you don’t make it to the film, please study the photograph and try to emulate this beauty on the next powder day.
“The Trails Before Us” shows how Nigel James brought mountain biking to the Navajo Nation. As he repurposes old horse trails for biking, it reminds his family of the sacred bond between humans and horses, as well as the land and culture.
“Ascend: Reframing Disability in the Outdoors” features Vasu Sojitra, who wants to focus on barriers to accessing the outdoors, rather than the fact that he doesn’t have a right leg. He ascends, and then skis, Mount Moran’s The Skillet with other mountain athletes of color.
“Breaking Trail” follows Emily Ford, the first woman (as well as the first LBGTQ and person of color) to attempt the 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail with a sled dog, as she encourages people, particularly those of color, who feel they don’t belong in wild places.
The evening ends with “Write Your Line,” a 3-minute story of a young boy who strives to be like the athletic heroes he sees on the internet.
“I love documentaries because they teach us critical thinking, but Mountainfilm takes that a step further and transforms the critical thinking into critical living,” said director David Charles Rodrigues.
The culturally rich, adventure shorts align with Mountainfilm’s mission to use film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.
“(This is) a celebration of what the natural world has to offer, and serves as a reminder that humans still have a vital role to play in preserving the uniqueness of wild spaces — such as those we enjoy in the Vail Valley,” said Ross Leonhart, marketing and multi-media manager at Vail Valley Foundation.