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Memorial Day weekend is a special one in Telluride. Every year, downtown is accented by Nepali prayer flags stretching across West Colorado Avenue welcoming attendees to Mountainfilm. The annual documentary film festival—now in its 41st year—showcases more than 150 films at the intersection of adventure, social justice, and environmentalism. It also features interactive seminars from various industry leaders, including writer Cheryl Strayed, alpinist Chris Bonington, and transgender mountaineer and Colorado resident Erin Parisi, all of whom will be speaking this year.
Over the course of four days, films will screen at seven theaters throughout town and an additional 16 venues will be utilized for community talks, exhibits, art galleries, and more. This year, films being screened are coming from all over the world—including Afghanistan, Malawi, and Washington D.C.—but of course, as with any good Centennial State film festival, Colorado-based artists and stories are at the center of it. Ahead of the festival, we reviewed the lineup and screened dozens of the films for this year’s festival to bring you this list of our four favorite stories putting Colorado on the map.
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One that’s sure to bring some tears to your eyes is Weight of Water directed by Boulder-based Michael Brown. It documents the blind-adventurer and Golden-resident Erik Weihenmayer‘s attempt to kayak the entirety of the Grand Canyon. This is only the latest in a series of accomplishments that Weihenmeyer has undertaken. The film breaks down Weihenemeyr’s previous Everest summits and the path that led him to life without vision. Screening: Friday May 24, 8:45-10:30 p.m., Basecamp Outdoor Theater; Saturday May 25th, 6:15 p.m.- 8:15 p.m., High Camp – Telluride Conference Center
This lively film from filmmaker Tyler Wilkinson-Ray features the National Brotherhood of Skiing and their annual summits. Their first was held in Aspen, and as the film goes on to show, it was quite the party that shook that community to its core. It’s a feel-good flick that shows how a community of black skiers is shaking up the power dynamic in a prominently homogenous sport. Screening: Friday May 24th, 9 – 11 p.m, High Camp – Telluride Conference Center; Sunday, May 26th, 12:30 – 2:30 p.m., Nugget Theatre
From Colorado-based Felt Soul Media, this film profiles the pizza joint in Fruita known as Hot Tomato. This place is known just as much for their delicious pies as they are for a place to attend a great event or hang out with friends. The owners, Anne Keller and Jen Zeuner, have rallied the community around outdoor recreation for years, which is reflected by the myriad of bike paraphernalia decorating the walls of the restaurant and endless stoke you’ll find there. Screening: Friday May 24, 8:45 – 10:30 p.m., Base Camp Outdoor Theater; Saturday, May 25, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m., High Camp Telluride Conference Center
People of Water
People of Water, from filmmakers Gnarly Bay Productions and Forest Woodward, chronicles the efforts of the U.S. Men’s Rafting Team as they break away from their home on Colorado rivers to paddle in a traditional Hawaiian outrigger canoe race. Despite the native Hawaiians justified skepticism, their training on Dillon Reservoir allowed them to earn the respect of their competitors. Screening: Saturday May 25, 6:15 – 8:15 p.m, Nugget Theatre; Sunday, May 26, 9:30 – 11:30 a.m., Masons Hall.
If You Go: The festival runs from May 24 to May 27 at various venues throughout Telluride. To buy tickets, see the lineup and schedule, or to see the archive of films, visit mountainfilm.org.