Moving pictures: Area festivals thrive on films
Film can be a powerful promotional tool.
With that in mind, the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival tour makes its second stop at the Avalon Theatre in downtown Grand Junction to show four films focused on environmental issues and awareness.
The tour first stopped in Grand Junction last year and sold out the Avalon.
“When we are promoting environmental protection, films are very good at firing people up,” said Lee Gelatt, volunteer organizer for the film festival and a member of the Western Colorado Congress, which hosts the festival.
However, the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, which begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 27, isn’t the only regional film festival vying for viewers’ attention. In fact, it isn’t the only area film festival that focuses on environmental issues.
The Mountainfilm Festival has drawn audiences to Telluride every spring since 1979, festival director David Holbrooke said.
From May 28–31, Mountainfilm Festival will show movies regarding human rights or environmental issues, subjects it evolved to after primarily being a mountaineering event until the mid-1990s.
Unlike the film festival in Grand Junction, the Telluride event includes speakers and presentations to raise awareness about environmental topics.
This year, Greg Mortenson, who co-authored the book “Three Cups of Tea” about building schools in Pakistan, is scheduled to speak.
“We’ve become an ideas festival as much as a film festival,” Holbrooke said. “We look at issues that are on people’s radar all over the world to provide some context, some hope and some inspiration.”
The Mountainfilm Festival committee received nearly 600 movies about environmental or human rights topics to screen in advance of this year’s festival, Holbrooke said.
Of those films, roughly 75 movies will be shown and only a few of the titles have been made public.
Some of those titles include:
— “The Wildest Dream” about George Mallory’s attempt to climb Mount Everest and climber Conrad Anker’s subsequent discovery of Mallory’s remains.
— “Dirty Pictures” regarding Dr. Alexander Shulgin and his discovery of the drug Ecstasy’s affect on an unsuspecting world.
— “Last Train Home” about the largest known human migration, the 130 million Chinese workers who travel from China’s cities to their country homes to celebrate the Chinese New Year.
“Our audience is willing to wade into difficult and challenging issues,” Holbrooke said. “We’ve got an incredibly active audience that donates money and gets involved in causes they believe in. People say they come to Mountainfilm for their annual dose of inspiration.”
The majority of environmental-related films shown in Grand Junction and Telluride tend to be documentaries, but there are other regional festivals that show more narrative films.
The Telluride Film Festival is held Labor Day weekend and has shown more feature-length films such as “Coco Before Chanel,” “Up in the Air” and “An Education,” all of which were nominated for Academy Awards. Submissions for the 2010 festival will be accepted starting April 15.
Submissions for the Get Reel film festival in Moab begin to roll in during June. The film festival is for filmmakers from Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Idaho. It costs $10 to submit a film, and comedy is this year’s theme.
The dates for the next Get Reel have not yet been set, said Tara Penner, director of Moab to Monument Valley Film Commission.
The dates for the next Aspen Film festival, Shortfest, are April 6–11. Shortfest features short documentaries and animated and live-action shorts. Along with Shortfest, Aspen Film (http://www.aspenfilm.org) has several other festivals. Filmfest, with a number of independent films, is set for Sept. 3–Oct. 4. SummerFILMS runs through July and August.
Film festivals enjoy longevity and popularity because they provide “a chance for people to come together and have an experience,” Holbrooke said.
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On the Net:
• Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, http://www.wccongress.org/film1.html.
• MountainFilm Festival, http://www.mountainfilm.org.
• Teluride Film Festival, http://www.telluridefilmfestival.org.
• Get Reel, http://www.moabcity.org/filmcommission.
• Aspen Film, http://www.aspenfilm.org.