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Mountainfilm brings the planet into sharp focus

Bill DeYoung

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"Feel of Vision." All photos: Mountainfilm on Tour.

A festival like no other, Mountainfilm, based in Telluride, Colorado, has been directing a widescreen spotlight on earth and its inhabitants – the real deal, not the Tom Cruise universe – since the late 1970s. Mountainfilm was, and is, a celebration of documentary filmmaking with an emphasis on the great outdoors, and those who’ve chosen to explore and challenge the natural world around them, with skill or with simple chutzpah. Overcoming adversity is a big topic. Environmental issues are often tackled. Other times, a film is just one awe-inspiring shot of a mountain after another.

Inspiration, education and motivation are central themes as the festival’s road show, Mountainfilm on Tour, enters its 20th year. MOT returns to St. Petersburg Oct. 12, for an evening of short-but-thrilling movies, at the University of South Florida St. Pete Student Center.

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay is the host, and will receive partial proceeds for its Love IV Lawrence Fund, focusing on changing the conversation around mental health.

There’s a VIP cocktail reception before the films, which you can read about here; a separate ticket is required.

As for the actual Mountainfilm lineup, this one was specially curated for a Florida audience:

“Every Nine Minutes.”

Every Nine Minutes, USA. A four-minute stunner about plastic pollution in the world’s oceans. Every nine minutes, the plastic entering the sea is equal to the weight of a blue whale – the largest animal on the planet. To raise awareness, California’s Monterey Bay Aquarium commissioned an artist to create a full-sized (82 feet in length) blue whale out of plastic trash.

Feel of Vision, USA. Lonnie Bedwell lost his vision in a hunting accident and emerged from depression and self-examination determined to take back his independence and his identity. He did that by kayaking the entire Colorado River, white-knuckle whitewater rapids and all – blind.

120 Days: Tarpon Season, USA. Dreamlike, super slow-motion black and white photography lends an otherworldly feeling to this soulful eight-minute film from Ben Knight and Travis Rummel. The central character is tarpon fishing guide David Mangum, of the Panama City area.

Akuna, USA. The road to redemption and recovery traveled by Iraq war veteran Will Robinson, who worked through depression and PTSD by walking the Pacific Crest Trail, then the Appalachian Trail, covering 3,800 miles on foot. Akuna is Robinson’s “trail name.”

“Sweetheart Dancers.”

Sweetheart Dancers, USA. Sean Snyder and Adrian Stevens, a Ute and Navajo two-spirit couple, challenge the long-held rules for the Native American Sweetheart Dance, a colorful, traditional powwow exercise that has never had to contend with a same-sex couple.

Broken, USA. A seven-minute study of skier Jon Wilson, who lost a leg to cancer at 23. Wilson walks up the side of a mountain at night, and at dawn skis back down. The photography is gorgeous; the story as ins[irrational as any you’re likely to see this year. Wilson himself narrates.

Jagrlama, Czech Republic. “In the high steppe of Little Tibet, a young boy develops an unlikely obsession: ice hockey. He fashions pucks out of stones, trains on homemade skates and worships Czech hockey icon Jaromír Jágr. And he has his heart set on an outsized dream.”

The Last Green Thread, USA. Follows the Florida Wildlife Corridor Expedition as biologists and citizens explore what’s left of wild Florida (precious little). Environmentalist Mallory Dimmitt leads the way.

 

Tickets and additional info here.

“Broken.”

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