The seats have been set, the Colorado Avenue banner hung, and Tibetan prayer flags flutter throughout town. The 2022 Mountainfilm Festival kicked off Thursday and will continue through Monday night. Since 1979, local, national, and global adventures have shown its films at Mountainfilm. Over the 43 years, the festival has remained connected to its climbing and mountaineering roots while opening the door to more activist-based stories regarding topics like social justice and climate change. This weekend be sure to check out the shorts and features, such as "Exposure," "Southwest Scramble," and "Sheri."
The feature film, "Exposure," directed by Holly Morris, will be shown today at High Camp at 1:00 p.m. and tomorrow at Masons Hall at 4 p.m. In 2018, a group of women set out to ski roughly 100 miles over the semi- frozen Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. The women on the expedition were from diverse backgrounds, and no experience was required to join.
"It's just a great film and a great adventure. It's a new kind of climate change film; you'll see that in everything that plays out. With the obstacles they encounter, every one of them is born from where we are with climate change," Morris said.
In 2016, explorer, Felicity Aston, sent out applications for an expedition formally called the "Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition." The women chosen for the expedition ranged from age from 27 to 49 years old and hailed from places like the U.K, Russia, and Kuwait. Members were graphic designers, kayak guides, and finance professionals. Morris was intrigued by Aston's mission and tracked her down to make the film.
After training for two years, the 11-woman team of the "Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition" was accompanied by a three-person film crew, including Morris. The crew had two safety personnel with them to make sure Morris and the two cinematographers didn't fall into a crevice while skiing backward to film, among other guiding roles. The film crew's team was separate from Aston's team and responsible only for their team members, although Morris assured they would help each other in a pinch.
Every person on the trip — guides, filmmakers, safety personnel, and adventurers — were women. There was not one man on the expedition.
"I've always felt that there is a special alchemy that can happen when women overcome in the outdoors together. I think that can lead to a whole lot of things. I find that a lot of the projects I do are sort of unlikely heroines in the natural world, and what can come of that when they tell their own story?" Morris said.
Morris is known for her pro-women and cross-cultural storytelling in the film "The Babushkas of Chernobyl," and the series "Globe Trekker."
One of the ways the film sets itself apart from other expedition stories is how the narrative is told. Instead of relying on postproduction narration, like many films do because of the difficulty of getting real-time audio in harsh conditions, the team recorded audio throughout most of the expedition while the women worked and moved. They sifted through hundreds of hours of audio, which Morris admitted was a lot of "panting," but there were hidden gems within all the hours. These gems included day-to-day discussions and arguments real women have outside of an expedition, like the discussion of periods and tiffs over coffee grounds. Morris made sure these character-building moments emblematic of humanity were "front and center."
Closer to home, the Local Legends and Steep Thrills Shorts program was shown at Basecamp in Town Park Thursday night. The program is dedicated to telling stories of Telluride Locals, with a few regional and outside shorts included.
One of the shorts is "Southwest Scramble," directed by local Cody Cirillo and Colton Farrow. The nine-minute short follows Cirillo, a professional skier, as he bikes 200 miles across the Southwest. Prior to the ride, Cirillo said he and Farrow knew very little about organizing a bike adventure.
"Whether the journey was filmed or not, it was a trip that helped my own well-being immensely. I felt better connected to myself and the world around me and became more present than I had that entire winter," Cirillo said.
Cirillo views Mountainfilm as the "premiere festival and adventure space."
"With it being in our backyard, it made it a no-brainer to try and submit," he added.
Also shown at last night's Local Legends and Steep Thrills Shorts program was the world premiere of "Sheri," directed by James 'Q' Martin. The 24-minute film tells the story of Sheri Tingey, the woman who founded the revolutionary raft company, Alpacka Raft, in Mancos, Colorado, over 20 years ago. The twist, however, is that Tingey was unaware that the film was about her.
"We told her we were filming for a marketing film rather than a documentary about her life," said Emily L. Doig, the Marketing Director for Alpacka Raft.
Doig said they are excited to have the film premiere at Mountainfilm because it is close to home and an opportunity to celebrate the film with community members.
The Local Legends and Steep Thrill Shorts program will be shown again at the library Monday at 10 a.m.
For a full schedule and more information about films, visit Mountainfilm.org/festival.