NOW WHAT … The theme for Mountainfilm this year was a call to action. That’s why Dan Chancellor and Chris Myers were out on Main St. during a break in Saturday’s rain, collecting signatures on a banner for Tim DeChristopher who took action not long ago to stop inappropriate oil & gas leases and served his jail time for doing so … It’s hard to know exactly how films inspire us to act. But the powerful images and stories told on celluloid (or these days, digitally) certainly live in our minds long after the watching is over … I had the honor again this year of emceeing at the Mason’s, the smallest theater in town (holds 120) and the second smallest MF venue (the Library holds 66). For me, smaller means more intimate, and so emceeing is a little more personal and in your face (or in the audience’s lap). But I only got to see a small slice of the rich feast of this amazing Telluride event … One film I saw that guaranteed its images would stick in my mind was Gluttony – one of Morgan Spurlock’s Showtime series “Seven Deadly Sins.” Children were warned away because of the disturbing graphic and erotic shots, but adult or child the images bothered one. From the head “doc” at the Heart Attack Café in New York, to a woman sexually turned on by obesity, to the dour makers of supersized caskets, the film is a frank indictment of our middle class propensity for being overweight. If anything may convince one about the need to slim down, this movie might … Robin Berghaus’ Stumped featured filmmaker Will Lautzenheiser who lost both arms and legs to a rare infection. His ability to turn his disaster into humor, going so far as to do several “standup” comedy gigs from a wheelchair at a Boston nightclub was incredibly awe-inspiring. And called one to remember that will and spirit can overcome almost any obstacle. Doing a Q&A on Skype with Will was a special treat … Johnny Burke and Andrew Hinton’s Tashi and the Monk showcased a Tibetan monk who left being a spiritual teacher in the U.S. to found an orphanage-like school in Northern India, Jhamtse Gatsal (Tibetan> “Love-Compassion Garden). Venerable Lobsong Phuntsok comes off as a very wonderful human being. Another inspiring figure for us to comtemplate. My son Gorio called this his favorite film of the festival … Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein’s An Honest Liar morphs from one man’s crusade against phony mentalists and psychics into a heart-breaking story of deception needed to survive as a gay person and how long it took this same man, even in this country, to feel safe enough to come out of the closet. What started out as a social call for rationality turns into a socio/personal story of deception and the unfortunate truth. And proves inspiring on both fronts … You don’t even have to be a rodeo fan to enjoy Matt Livardy’s Queens & Cowboys: A Straight Year on the Gay Rodeo. The openness to diversity and willingness to let people follow their hearts is refreshingly inclusive, unlike some aspects of this American farm sport tradition. Matt tracks two figures through a season of the International Gay Rodeo Association circuit – one who overcomes all obstacles to become, in his last year, Gay Cowboy of the Year and the indomitable Char Duran, who keeps coming back year after year to bronc-riding, never letting defeat stop her from living her dream. Again, a film urging us to act socially to break down sexual taboos as well as teaching us the power of another’s individual will … Mark Griego’s Marmata took us from personal action to collective action in Colombia. The depths of the connections Mark forges have a lot to do with tracking this conflict for four years and weaving us into the lives of the several local characters he films. A Canadian multi-national mining corporation plays the bad guys – with cuts to vultures perched, flying or spreading wings like the embrace of the Jesus statue on the local church that belongs to the good guys – small miners whose ancestors have been working and living on this mountain for 500 years. When Mark is forced to leave after death threats and the intervention of the military, we too feel violated. One wants to find out more and see what can be done to help the small mining families … My pick of the bunch I saw ended up being Robert Nixon and Fisher Stevens’ Mission Blue – a documentary about the lifetime work of Dr. Sylvia Earle. Somehow I’d missed learning about “Her Deepness” and her pioneering work in marine biology, botany, submersibles and public policy since the ‘70s. Everyone in the country needs to know about her work to create marine reserves over 20 percent of the oceans before they are entirely destroyed. If this film doesn’t move you to action, nothing will … Sandy McLeod’s documentary Seeds of Time regarding the incredibly important work of Dr. Cary Fowler and Norway’s Svalbard Global Seed Vault was dear to my heart – I’ve been running my own private potato experimental station in Norwood for 20 some years. This is a call to action I heard years ago and have been acting on ever since … Of course, it was a crowded stage at the Mason’s when MF producer Stash Wislocki’s Dear Governor Hickenlooper screened for its second showing of its world premiere. David Holbrooke and a raft of others spoke about this potpourri film that welded a story of Fractivist Shane Davis onto clips from a half-dozen filmmakers and presented a powerful plea for an end to fracking in Colorado – a citizen initiative of just that sort is circulating for inclusion on the upcoming November ballot. You can’t get more active than that.
CHUCK KROGER … Loved the full page ad that Kathy Green and friends put in the MF program to honor Chuck – roped up on Via Ferrata with a hand drill building a climber’s route into solid rock. Doing things for himself and everybody else because it made sense – one of those rare ones who not only knew what to do next, but just went out and got it done.
ASHLEY BOLING … Please bring Ashley back as a MF emcee. This year he got moved to Queue Busker, entertaining Q lines outside in the rain before film showings – a task he’s ably qualified to do. But a job without a warm seat inside the theater welcoming audiences and guest speakers – another job he is most capable of doing. In fact, there are a few local emcees who rank head and shoulders above all of us and Ashley belongs in the ranks of those masters – along with Rick Silverman, Karla Brown, Lance Waring and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.
THE TALKING GOURD
My computer locked up like bindweed
My scarecrow ISP folded. I had to rake
Google names to change my addy. My Dodge
Ram wheelbarrel threw a rod and died
The dome blew off Mary’s yurt at Cloud Acre
in a windstorm, along with a clear glass
chandelier that shattered. Her papers
got thrown out without a looksee
Last year’s dry pond flooded, and my cinder
block check dam buckled. But everything
is green or growing gangbusters
And I’ve had two fruit tree readings
a poetry festival & one board-to-death
come-to-spuds meeting just this week