Paul E. Anna: High Points |

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

The first Monday of March saw another of those “only in Aspen” kind of nights. On an evening that began with an Olympian and ended just blocks away with an Emperor, I was once again reminded how special this place is.

The night began shortly after sunset as a distinctly local crowd surged into the Hotel Jerome’s ballroom in numbers that would have tested the fire code. All had come to watch Greg Poschman’s compelling documentary film “A Call to Action. For the Forest.” Presented by the Basalt-based nonprofit organization called, fittingly, For the Forest, the film outlines the inevitable march of the mountain pine beetle into our local forests and the options used to prevent the destruction of our trees.

Introduced and narrated by 2002 Olympic Bronze medal winner and Aspen local Chris Klug, the film was a powerful call for all of us to get on board and help fix this potential calamity. Two speakers who had helped the community of Merritt, British Columbia, fight the mountain pine beetle with great success followed the film. Tom Lacey, a fire-control specialist, showed video of just how quickly stands of the red, dead pine trees can erupt into fireballs if left unchecked. Dr. Nancy Gillette presented her studies on how the use of “push/pull” techniques with natural pheromones attract and/or drive the pine beetles out of the forests.

The crowd was clearly made up of tree-huggers, but as I left the room and looked back at Red Mountain I couldn’t help but think how no area in our community is at more potential risk from wildfire than that densely populated, heavily treed hillside. Let’s hope the message resonates before a catastrophe hits. You can find out more at

Over at the Wheeler Opera House a well-coifed crowd converged to watch Matt Tyrnauer’s film “Valentino: The Last Emperor,” a presentation made in conjunction with Lisa Johnson’s extremely successful Aspen Fashion Week event.

The film is a documentary about the final two years of the esteemed Italian fashion designer’s 45-year career, but the narrative covered so much more. It told the story, or rather the principals told the story, of the half-century collaboration between Valentino and his friend, lover, caretaker, business partner and yes, even muse, Giancarlo Giammetti. The two built an empire that since the completion of the film has been overtaken by the same financial interests that have changed the world of fashion forever.

As the final credits rolled the audience erupted into a standing ovation for Giancarlo and Valentino, who were in the first row of the Wheeler’s balcony. Tyrnauer, who debuted the film at the Venice Film Festival and then screened it at the Toronto and Chicago festivals, commented that the Wheeler was “by far the most beautiful theater” the film has played in.

Congratulations are in order for both Poschman and Johnson for taking ideas and turning them into reality.

They both inspire.

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