Aspen Times Weekly: Choose Your Own Adventure at MountainSummit |

Aspen Times Weekly: Choose Your Own Adventure at MountainSummit

"Gnarly in Pink" is among the short films in Sunday's Kids Kino program at MountainSummit.
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: MountainSummit: Mountainfilm in Aspen

Where: Wheeler Opera House and elsewhere in Aspen

When: Thursday, Aug. 27 through Sunday, Aug. 30

How much: Single tickets range from $10 to $25; Summit Pass $130; Thursday Pass $35; Friday Pass $50; Saturday Pass $60; Sunday Pass $45

Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office;; 970-920-5770

More info:

MountainSummit Schedule of Events

(Events at the Wheeler, unless otherwise noted)


6 p.m.: An Evening of Adventure, hosted by Chris Davenport

8:30 p.m.: ‘Meru’ and ‘The Thousand Year Journey’


4 p.m.: Friday Afternoon Conversation: Let’s Talk About Water, with Craig Childs at the Limelight Hotel

6 p.m.: Continuing the Conversation: A Program of Water Shorts, hosted by Craig Childs

8 p.m.: ‘The Diplomat’ with director David Holbrooke


3:30 p.m.: ‘Imba Means Sing’

6 p.m.: ‘The Rider and the Wolf’ with Nathan Ward, Claude DeMoss and Paul Rust

8:30 p.m.: ‘No Cameras Allowed’ with director Marcus Haney

9:30 p.m.: Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats at Belly Up Aspen


Noon: Kidz Nino

4:30 p.m.: ‘Very Semi-Serious’

7 p.m.: ‘Unbranded’ with Ben Masters

Adventure comes in many forms, as all mountain folk know. It comes on raging rivers and powdery peaks, on bike trails and on horseback. Those traditional settings for adventure are well represented at the seventh annual MountainSummit, presented by the Wheeler Opera House and Telluride Mountainfilm. But the four-day film festival, running Aug. 27 to 30, also delves into adventures of the spirit and in realms like activism, creativity and diplomacy. And this year, MountainSummit invites you to do more than watch.

The festival opens Thursday with a presentation by local mountaineer Chris Davenport on his recent completion of the “Centennial Challenge” and six short adventure films, followed by the feature “Meru,” about a trio’s attempt to climb the formidable Indian peak known as “Shark’s Fin.”

On Friday afternoon, the festival moves to the Limelight Hotel for a conversation about drought and water issues, with acclaimed author Craig Childs, who also hosts a series of short water-related films at the Wheeler (among them is local filmmaker Pete McBride’s award-winning “Delta Dawn.”) The Friday night feature is “The Diplomat,” by Mountainfilm festival director David Holbrooke, about his father — the former ambassador and assistant secretary of state Richard Holbrooke.

Saturday’s lineup includes “Imba Means Sing,” following the African Children’s Choir around the world, and “The Rider and the Wolf,” about the disappearance of Salid-based mountain biker Mike “The Bike” Rust. The feature that night is “No Camera Allowed,” by filmmaker Marcus Haney about his world travels sneaking into music festivals with his camera. The festival then moves to Belly Up for a show by Denver’s Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.

It closes Sunday with Kidz Kino, a presentation of 13 kid-friendly shorts, followed by “Very Semi-Serious,” about New Yorker cartoonist Bob Mankoff, and “Unbranded,” Ben Masters’ doc on wild horses held in U.S. government holding facilities.


The festival has moved beyond the walls of the Wheeler this year, and is urging festival-goers to get out of their seats.

Along with the screenings and talks at the Wheeler by filmmakers and film subjects (including the “Unbranded” horses) MountainSummit is hosting coffee talks, a mountain bike ride and some surprises around town.

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies hosts a MountainSummit discussion on “The Art of Flow” Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with Chris Davenport, slackliner Josh Beaudoin and Jebidiah Jenkins (subject of the short film “The Thousand Year Journey). Concurrently, David Holbrooke will lead a coffee talk Saturday morning at the Little Nell.

Sunday morning at 8 a.m. the filmmakers behind “The Rider and the Wolf” will host a coffee talk with Mike Rust’s brothers Paul and Carl. Immediately afterward, the Roaring Fork Mountain Bicycling Association will host a mountain bike ride through Sky Mountain Park.

“Our filmmakers, directors, athletes, stars, horses and artists will be a part of the festival experience from beginning to end,” Wheeler executive director Gena Buhler said earlier this summer. “This will include everything from being able to learn how to slackline in Wagner Park, having intimate discussions with filmmakers, a late-night special concert guest and more.”


The interactive family-friendly Kidz Kino program is also a new addition to the MountainSummit lineup, featuring creative art projects to complement the films (which are programmed by a Telluride kids committee ranging from age 9 to 15).

Kids in attendance will each receive a sketchbook asking them, “What would you invent to help change the world?” In a supplement to “Gnarly in Pink,” a short film about young girls ripping in a skate park, a limited number of kids will be invited to paint skateboard decks to bring home. Wood canvases for painting (from the recent Wheeler remodel) will also be on hand.

MountainSummit will take over Wagner Park after the film program, for activities like slacklining and rock-climbing.

“The afternoon will be interactive, to take creativity to the next level, making an impact on everyone’s film experience,” says Buhler.

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