‘Mirasol’ shines a spotlight on water issues in the West at 17th annual 5 Point Film Festival

Benn Knight's new film 'Mirasol' takes an intimate look at water issues in Pueblo Colorado.The film will screen on Saturday as part of 5 Point Film Festival in Carbondale.
Ben Knight/Courtesy Photo

The 5 Point Film Festival will return for its 17th annual year in Carbondale next week. Running Wednesday, April 24, through Sunday, April 28, as always it offers some of the most exciting adventure film programming but attendees also have a lot of other experiences to look forward to.

This year, 5 Point continues to expand its offerings with art installations and exhibitions, kicking off with a show at the Launchpad featuring the works of filmmaker Renan Ozturk and artist and surfer Tre’Lan Michael, both of whom have films in the festival.

In addition, local artist Lara Whitley will be premiering an on-site installation at the Carbondale Recreation and Community Center entitled “Nimbus,” which reflects Lara’s interest in recycling materials and a renewable aesthetic in her work. Festival Artist Hugh McCormick will showcase his unique visual style through a site-specific outdoor scene diorama at the Rec. Center throughout the weekend.

Highlights of the week include film screenings as well as community events including a live podcast recording of “Dirtbag Diaries,” 5 Point 5K, gear giveaways, free community events, and the 5 Point After Party on Saturday featuring Rattlesnake Milk.

“The spirit of 5 Point has always been centered on building community, and we are once again thrilled to offer audience experiences that go beyond the medium of film,” said 5 Point Film Executive Director Luis Yllanes in a prepared statement. “We are truly excited about the quality of the film programming that reflects even more diverse story-telling, subject matter, and filmmaker talent. We can’t wait to welcome our 5 Point audience together again.”

Director Ben Knight, Carbondale. April 27, 2014.
Courtesy photo

The event will celebrate the spirit of adventure through film and other events thoughout the week. Thursday evening will feature New York Times bestselling author Jedidiah Jenkins as the host for opening night. The Saturday Changemakers program will bring professional rock climber and personality Timmy O’Neill as host and a screening of feature award-winning filmmaker Ben Knight’s new film, “Mirasol,” presented in collaboration with Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT).

Knight’s documentary film, “Mirasol, Looking at the Sun,” takes a personal look at the issues of water as a finite resource for farmers, specifically in Pueblo, Colorado. The film is meant to challenge how we think about land and water use in the West through an intimate portrait of a rural farming community as they fight to protect their water, land, culture, and livelihood.

“I was lucky that this project came along because it was right in my backyard at the time, only an hour’s drive from where I lived in Howard, Colorado, near Salida,” he said. “Not only was it an opportunity to tell a story in my backyard, but also gave me more time on the ground. It was a dream come true as a filmmaker to be able to spend quality time with the subject.”

This isn’t the first time Colorado has played a big role in Knight’s life. After dropping out of high school in his native North Carolina, he found himself “lost” and found himself on the road trying to figure out what was next. He landed in Telluride.

“When I was 17, I was really into photography,” he said “I was feeling really bad about myself for dropping out (of high school), and I think I was hiding, trying to see if maybe I could make a living off my camera. I pretty much went straight to Telluride and ended up working at the local newspaper (Telluride Daily Planet) for a decade. That was my college. I got into filmmaking because I was inspired by Mountain Film Festival. I worked there running the slide projectors for like National Geographic photographers, and that was the coolest thing ever.”

That experience and his time in the Rockies led him to make a string of environmentally focused films, including “Red Gold,” “The Last Honey Hunter,” and “DamNation,” which garnered him awards and the opportunity to make more.

The fate of the iconic Pueblo Chili could hang in the balance if water stops flowing to farmers in the region.
Ben Knight/Courtesy Photo

“I think my interest in this kind of filmmaking came from falling in love with the West,” he said. “My first film ‘Red Gold’ was about trying to protect the world’s richest salmon runs in the world from an open-pit mining project in southeast Alaska. That was my intro to how I can make a difference. Once you taste that a little bit, it’s hard to make films that don’t matter after that.”

His latest film “Mirasol” continues down this path. In the film, Knight focuses his lens on the Italian immigrant families that have cultivated the land for many generations and how development and the lack of water is threatening not only crops like the iconic Pueblo Chili, but also their traditional way of life.

“I think deep down I made the film just for Pueblo,” he said. “But I hoped that it could relate to issues all over the West, to look at their water differently, to look at development a little more critically. It’s not a new story, but I think we have to keep telling it to remind ourselves that we can’t take these things for granted. The biggest misconception about these small, rural, agricultural communities is that they’ll be there forever.”

Tickets and passes for the 5 Point Festival are now on sale. Pass prices begin at $380. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening tickets are $50 each. The Changemakers program on Saturday morning is $35. Sunday’s Family Film Program is still “pay what you can”, free for children 12 and under.

For tickets and information: