Ones to watch at Mountainfilm in Aspen |

Ones to watch at Mountainfilm in Aspen

"The Last Honey Hunter"
Courtesy photo |

If You Go …

What: Mountainfilm in Aspen, presented by the Wheeler Opera House and Telluride Mountainfilm

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Through Sunday, Aug. 27

How much: $25/single tickets; $60/Pick 3 Pass; $140/Festival Pass.

Tickets: Wheeler box office;

As our all-too short summer wanes, it’s hard to keep mountainfolk indoors.

But of all the reasons to come in from the sunshine and fresh air or to skip a night under the stars, it’s Mountainfilm in Aspen.

The annual co-presentation of Telluride Mountainfilm and the Wheeler Opera House – renamed Mountainfilm in Aspen after years as MountainSummit – opened Wednesday and runs through Sunday, Aug. 27. It showcases the newest and best in adventure film story-telling, straight from the renowned Telluride Mountainfilm festival, with some surprises and extraordinary special guests in store.

“We have curated an impressive film line-up for fans of adventure, exploration and inspiration,” Wheeler executive director Gena Buhler said last month when the lineup was announced.

Along with five days of screenings in the Wheeler, events include panel discussions at the Little Nell on a range from topics from climate change to streaming media’s effect on documentary filmmaking and a new “lunch film series” at the Cooking School of Aspen. Those screenings include “Fishpeople” (Thursday, 12:30 p.m.) about six diverse people – a diver, a spear fisher, a surfer and others – who virtually live in the ocean.

The festival’s special guests include “Chasing Coral” director Jeff Orlowski, who will be on hand for Friday night’s screening of his film. If you missed this eye-opening documentary about the underwater crisis of climate change at Aspen Ideas Fest and AREDAY, don’t skip Friday’s presentation.

This year’s lineup spans from earnest environmental documentaries like “The End of Snow” to celebrations of outdoor awesomeness like the Laird Hamilton documentary “Take Every Wave.”

Here are some of the anticipated summits of Mountainfilm in Aspen:


Thursday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m.

Garcia is known as “the bionic chef.” He suffered life-threatening injuries six years ago when he was electrocuted in a backcountry accident, and now cooks – to great acclaim – with a prosthetic arm. This film recounts his inspiring recovery and culinary career. (Garcia will be at Thursday’s screening and will host a community dinner on Sunday, see related story, page TK).


Friday, Aug. 25, 12:30 p.m.

Mauli Dhan Rai is a spiritual honey hunter who scales cliffs high in the mountains of Nepal, harvesting poisonous honey made by the world’s largest honeybee for the Kulung people. The Kulung believe the honey comes directly from the gods. But this remote spiritual tradition is under threat by the modernization creeping steadily through Nepal. Director Ben Knight, who embedded with Mauli Dhan Rai and the Kulung, will be on hand for Friday’s screening.


Friday, Aug. 25, 5:30 p.m.

The elusive climbing god, Fred Beckey, was too busy racking up first ascents throughout most of his legendary climbing career to slow down and let somebody make a movie about him. But 12 years ago, at age 83, the original “dirtbag” gave Colorado filmmaker Dave O’Leske intimate access to his life and archives. O’Leske, who will be in Aspen this weekend, spent the following decade at Beckey’s side making an extraordinary film about adventure, sacrifice and a truly one-of-a-kind mountain character.


Saturday, Aug. 26, 5:30 p.m.

Ultra-endurance athlete Rebecca Rusch took her mountain bike to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia to ride some 1,200 miles of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in search of the site where her father’s plane crashed 45 years ago during the height of the Vietnam War. The film follows her on her personal journey through the jungle and into history. Rusch will appear via Skype after Saturday’s screening.


Sunday, Aug. 27, noon

Mountainfilm in Aspen’s kids’ presentation has expanded widely in recent years, adding hands-on, interactive activities to this always-popular afternoon of kid-friendly short films.

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