Green theme on screen 

Telluride mountain film festival comes to Whistler

What: Mountainfilm in Telluride on Tour

When: Jan. 16, 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Where: Millennium Place Theatre

Hit the screen, and go green.

Mountainfilm in Telluride on Tour hits the screens at Millennium Place next week and promises an internationl lineup of mountain films. The festival, which has two screenings of films selected by festival director Rick Silverman, is a fund-raiser for the Whistler Blackcomb Environmental Fund.

Mountainfilm in Telluride was inaugurated 24 years ago as a festival of films with a focus on mountain cultures and environments. In 2000 the festival went on tour for the first time, with the financial assistance of the Raynier Institute and Foundation, which is also located in Telluride, Colorado. This is the first year the festival tour has reached the West Coast.

James Ray, founder of the Raynier Institute and Foundation, a body which funds organizations and causes that protect natural resources, donated $5,000 to the Whistler-Blackcomb Environmental Fund. The fund is supported by Whistler-Blackcomb staff donations, which are matched by the Whistler-Blackcomb Foundation.

The festival’s mandate has been to sustain an appreciation for the uniqueness of the mountain environment through production of mountain adventure, environmental, and cultural films.

"In addition to adventure films, like the extremes of a film like Berserk in the Antarctic shown at the Banff Festival, we also represent environmental and economic films, having moved away from the former extreme adventure films that previously aired at Telluride," says Jeff Hauser, independent consultant with Raynier.

In recent years, Mountainfilm in Telluride has also added gallery exhibits, specific children’s programming, and film underwriting.

Last year $10,000 raised by the Whistler-Blackcomb Environmental Fund went towards projects like restoration of Jordan Creek. The creek’s fish habitat, located near Alpha Lake, was being damaged by use of the surrounding trails, so their habitat has been partially enclosed to protect future spawning, according to Allana Hamm, environmental co-ordinator for Whistler-Blackcomb.

Hamm is seeking additional project recipients.

"While events like the ongoing (sustainability) speaker series attract a certain audience, I think the film audience will draw in a different demographic, some of whom might also be interested in the program," says Hamm.

Hamm also sees an opportunity at the film festival to promote awareness of sustainability. Storyboards will be on display, detailing projects like Jordan Creek and others that were completed in 2001.

In keeping with sustainable and ‘fresh air’ themes, a lengthy lineup of short films are included in two separate showings of Telluride films. Ode to Avalanche, a six minute short from the U.S., is from Ken Bailey and Michael Friedman and marvels at the physics of Mother Nature. Gauthier Flauder’s Gatherers From the Sky is a film about the Minang community who live inside a crater on the shore of Sumatra’s Lake Maninjoa. Nick Hilligoss’ Turtle World is about those bizarre creatures underwater.

Legacy: Killing a Rain Forest, from Peter B. McAllister, is a 10-minute short contrasting the public relations blitzes surrounding timber production versus the harvesting of British Columbia’s coastal forests. Skiing on Pine Needles features ’30s vintage ski footage of Dick Durrance, from director John McCrillis.

Skilletto, from the team of Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, and Derek Westerland, features extreme stunts completed on a one wheel apparatus. The Great Dance: a Hunter’s Story, from Craig and Damon Foster, features a hunter named Ngate of the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa as he fends for his family’s survival.

The Flight of the Stone, from Susanne Horizon-Franzel, won the festival award for most creative plot, a film that follows a stone thrown in anger that misses its target and travels through a low orbit around the world.

The second screening of films includes I, Max from Ken Bailey, who randomly films a child’s early years and Pilot Notes: The American Southwest, from directors Robert Fulton and Vladimir Van Maule, who showcase aerial photography from Denali to the Cape of Good Hope.

Survival of the fittest? Darwin’s Evolutionary Stakes is a doleful look at the progression of the species, while Lost Animals of the 20th Century looks at lost animal species in the obscure destinations of Wake Island Rail, Caucasian Wisnet, and Blackfin Cisco.

Several other films are also part of the festival.

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