Mountainfilm kicked off Telluride’s series of summer festivals last weekend with four, snowy days of inspirational speakers, adventure films and coffee talks. Several Backbone staffers attended the festival and rounded up a few of their favorite picks from the weekend.
Jimmy Chin’s highly-anticipated film, which premiered at Sundance and won the Audience Choice Award, lives up to the hype. The film covers Conrad Anker, Renan Ozturk and Chin’s attempts at climbing (and eventual first ascent of) the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru in the Himalaya. “Meru’s” greatest strength, however, is the way the traditional climbing narrative is interwoven with scenes and struggles from the climber’s lives. From Anker’s challenge of balancing family with the dangers of alpine climbing, to Ozturk’s severe brain injury (sustained only 5 months before the team was set to depart for their second attempt), “Meru” captures more than just the difficulty of the climb itself.
The Important Places
Forest Woodward’s short film, which also played at 5point Film Festival, is hard to not watch over and over again. The film chronicles a father and son trip down the Grand Canyon, a trip Woodward’s father, who is now 70, had completed 45 years earlier. Between the sweet poem, written by Woodward’s father, that acts as the film’s intro, and the beautiful cinematography, “The Important Places” is a gentle reminder to treasure the quiet spaces that restore your sense of self. Watch the short below:
Almost 150 people were turned away from “Unbranded’s” first, packed-to-the-gills Mountainfilm showing — an easy indicator of what was in store. The film chronicles the journey of four recent college-grads who decide to ride wild mustangs (who they’ve trained, first) from Mexico to Canada through trails on public land. And while it is a (very) entertaining adventure movie, “Unbranded” also educates viewers about the nearly 50,000 wild horses kept in government holding facilities, waiting to be adopted. “Unbranded” subtly proves these mustangs’ worth as they endure a rigorous journey through cactus-ridden mesas, steep mountain passes and summer thunderstorms.
Ben Knight was inspired to make movies because of Mountainfilm, and now his films are the ones that no festival-goer wants to miss. “Denali’s” greatest strength is Knight’s entertaining first-person narration of his friend Ben Moon’s dog, Denali. Moon, a photographer and filmmaker, was diagnosed with cancer in his twenties, and the film chronicles the friendship between Denali and Moon as they endure life’s struggles and embrace its adventures. “Denali” won the People’s Choice Award at 5Point Film Festival, and is surely a tear-jerker for all those pet owners out there.