Each May, documentary filmmakers and several thousand viewers arrive in Telluride, Colorado, the country’s most beautiful dead-end town. The Mountainfilm festival’s three-day program distracts the visitors from the sublime natural amphitheater of cliffs and the last snowfields resisting the spring sun. Mountainfilm brings an international buffet of documentary films and morning coffee talks with mountain luminaries such as Guns, Germs, and Steel author Jared Diamond, National Geographicphotographer Nevada Wier, and rock jock Alex Honnold. Each event feels like an intimate gathering among friends.
Memorial Day weekend marked my first visit to Mountainfilm. Or any film festival, for that matter. Who Owns Water, a film my brother Michael and I filmed and produced, was graciously accepted by the Telluride festival and supported by a 2013 Mountainfilm Commitment Grant. With print and photography backgrounds, we were a little wary of The Scene. I imagined a film line-up heavy on Cineflex drone footage of shirtless cliffhanger dudes. Or skiers shralping the gnar as rave music looped. I’m happy to report I was wrong.