Discovering MountainFilm |

Discovering MountainFilm

Dear Editor:

I’m still a newcomer to this area, so forgive me if I’m the last person in Colorado to catch on to this. My significant other and I thought it would be a good, head-clearing bit of fun to get out of town over Memorial Day weekend and check out Telluride. It was supposed to be a vacation and get me out of the office for a few days.

Instead, we stumbled onto an amazing, weekend-long event called MountainFilm, and the organizers could not have been more hospitable to these two Aspenites that fell out of the sky. We got to experience this 34-year-old festival extremely up close and were knocked out by what we found. I have to think that this is what Aspen was like around 1990, in that mythical “golden age” I’ve heard so much about ” a kind of shambling casualness to everything, everyone laid back, no obvious VIPs and full houses for every event. The festival itself is a mixture of short and full-length films, lectures and art exhibits, and the connective tissue is celebrating what the human spirit can achieve. From my experience, it’s like where Aspen Film, the Aspen Institute and Winterskol converge and have a baby. The offerings were as varied as a film debut about a threatened salmon-fishing culture in Alaska, a lecture about restoration of the marshlands of Iraq that were intentionally ruined by Saddam and a short about a group of Durango stoners who invented bicycle polo.

When I asked the executive director of the festival if they’d ever considered coming to Aspen, he told me they’d tried but couldn’t get an invitation, which, considering how passionate we are about happenings such as the Banff Film Festival, SkiCo’s “Meeting” films, the Ideas Festival and, of course, FilmFest and ShortsFest, struck me as insane.

As executive director for the Wheeler Opera House, I get to put together some pretty cool stuff, and I would love to see if we couldn’t get MountainFilm up here. I would also love to have some company in this pursuit. Aspen and Telluride are two brilliant, forward-thinking mountain towns, and there are things that each of us does distinctly well, but there are also times when there are obvious bridges to be built between us. So if anyone out there feels the same way I do, could you let me know?

Meanwhile (speaking of 1990), we have a fun little comedy festival coming this weekend that’s all about serving the locals, so we hope you’ll join us this Friday and Saturday.

Gram Slaton