Mountainfilm

The world premiere of “Surf Nation” will be part of this year’s Mountainfilm. (Courtesy image)

One of North America’s oldest film festivals, Mountainfilm, which has also been dubbed one of the “coolest” fests in the world, recently announced the full lineup for its 44th edition and first fully in-person event since 2019. Taking place this Memorial Day weekend, May 26-30, throughout Telluride, attendees can look forward to 131 bold and inspiring films, including 31 features (19 of which are women produced or directed) and 97 shorts (43 of which are women produced or directed) curated into 11 programs, including award-worthy environmental, social justice and adventure-themed films, according to a news release.

“We’re thrilled to be showcasing over 80 international, U.S. and Colorado premieres, including a strong lineup of films featuring under-represented voices,” festival director Suzan Beraza said. “Mountainfilm continues its strong tradition of programming the very best in the genres of environment and sustainability, social justice, culture, activism, and, of course, the great outdoors and edge-or-your-seat adventure programming, with a special focus on films and subjects that celebrate indomitable spirit.”

Of the incredible lineup of films are 23 world premieres, including feature film “Surf Nation,” directed by Jeremiah M. Bogert, Jr. and Jessica Q. Chen, and produced by Diane Quon and Nevo Shinaar (all will be in attendance at the festival). The film takes a deep dive into the world of competitive Chinese sport as the country trains and grooms up-and-coming surfers to make their bid for the first Olympic surf competition.

“It’s great to be returning to Mountainfilm,” Quon said. “‘Minding the Gap’ screened here back in 2018, and it was truly one of the highlights of the year. Our team knew that Mountainfilm would also be the perfect venue to premiere ‘Surf Nation.’ We can’t wait for audiences to see and experience it on opening night.”

Additional world premieres include “Chasing,” the epic adventure of a rowing team’s race across the Atlantic; and “The Neighborhood Storyteller,” the touching story of an impromptu classroom for girls in a Syrian refugee camp. Beyond world premiere features, Mountainfilm is thrilled to share the U.S. premiere of “Sam Now” with audiences. The film shares the intimate story of two half-brothers, director Reed Harkness and film subject Sam Harkness, as they embark on a life-changing journey to find answers, understanding and healing in the unexpected disappearance of Sam’s mother (the filmmaker and subject will be in attendance). Short films billed to world premiere at the festival and expected to make waves this year include “Dani’s Twins,” “Janwaar,” “Wood Hood,” “Eco-Hack!,” “Free to Care,” “Ibach,” “Skin Swimmer,” “Fight or Flight,” “Sheri,” “Elevated” and “Rural Runners.”

This year’s lineup will also highlight important local Colorado stories, such as “The Holly” (executive producers include Adam McKay and Todd Schulman), examining gentrification and violence in downtown Denver’s Holly neighborhood; “Anonymous Sister,” an intimate portrayal of the opioid epidemic from within a tight-knit Denver family; the world premiere of “Fight of Flight,” chronicling the journey of the only female pilot employed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife; the world premiere of “Sheri,” featuring the legendary adventurer and designer who revolutionized the outdoor industry with the founding of Colorado’s Alpacka rafts; and “Jacket,” which transports viewers to a sheep ranch in Moffat County, Colorado, revealing age-old (and surprising) traditions during lambing season.

In addition to the festival’s film programming, Mountainfilm’s beloved Coffee Talks will be returning, plus the newly designed Minds Moving Mountains Speaker Series and DocTalks. The speaker series kicks off Friday morning at High Camp and features great adventurers Rick Ridgeway in conversation with Conrad Anker, and James Balog in conversation with the festival’s 2022 guest director Jeff Orlowski-Yang. The series will continue through the weekend with a special tribute to Mountainfilm’s late and beloved cofounder Bill Kees; New York Times, The New Yorker and Vox journalists discussing threats to American democracy; Dr. Len Necefer, producer of “Spirit of the Peaks,” will be joined by film subject and co-director Connor Ryan to discuss Indigenous perspectives in filmmaking and ski mountaineering; and a festival wrap-up conversation with 2019 guest director Cheryl Strayed and renowned filmmaker Tom Shadyac.

This year’s DocTalks fulfill the festival’s mission of bringing filmmaker support to the forefront with five workshop sessions focused on career development in the filmmaking industry by offering authentic support for what creatives are seeking in the current environment of a hyperconnected world. DocTalks will be hosted by Caitlin Mae Burke and Merrill Sterritt of IF/THEN Shorts, featuring an array of panelists that include Orlowski-Yang, festival jury members, industry and filmmakers Kathryn Everett (XTR), Eric d’Arbeloff (Roadside Attractions), Stacy Peralta (“The Yin and Yang of Gerry Lopez,” Mountainfilm 2022), and Skye Fitzgerald (Academy Award-nominated filmmaker), along with representatives from Netflix, Vimeo and Kickstarter, among others.

“Audiences can expect to be stirred by this remarkable slate of filmmakers telling stories full of adventure, activism and the strength of the human spirit,” executive director Sage Martin said. “As Mountainfilm aims to do each year, attendees will walk away inspired to take action.”

Bolstering the festival’s already stacked program is this year’s cash awards. Passholders may cast their votes for their favorite feature films throughout the weekend to award a filmmaker with the $5,000 Audience Choice — awarded at the Closing Picnic on Monday afternoon at Town Park. Other jury-selected awards include Best Documentary Feature ($5,000), Best Short Film ($1,000), Charlie Fowler Best Adventure Film ($2,500), Moving Mountains ($2,500), Women in Film ($2,500) and the Student Choice Award ($1,000).

Passes for the festival are still available mountainfilm.org. Palmyra, Ama Dablam and Patron passes include After the Fest Online access. For those unable to attend this year’s in-person festival, $99 After the Fest passes are available online, giving film lovers online screening access to nearly all films from May 31 through June 7.

For the full lineup and schedule, visit mountainfilm.org or download the festival’s app.