Every year the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival receives 500 submissions from all over the world, and Emily Long gets to whittle them down not just for the Fest, but working with UCSB’s Roman Baratiak, she’s reduced them to 14 gems for this touring production. The Mountainfilm in Telluride Tour comes to UCSB’s Campbell Hall this Wednesday, bringing a selection of shorts that, as the Fest’s slogan goes, “Celebrate the indomitable spirit.”
Some of that may mean the kind of crazy, death-defying adventure found in the opening film, “Cascada,” from Skip Armstrong and Anson Fogel, where kayakers head to the Mexican jungle and brave the elements and plunging waterfalls. Some include cute, animated films like “The Squeakiest Roar” by Maggie Rogers about a tiny lion cub learning to be just like mommy and daddy. (Yes, the evening is family friendly.)
“We started as a festival for climbers and mountaineers,” says Ms. Long about the early days of the Fest. “But we quickly started expanding the scope of what we dealt with, because people who are going halfway around the world to climb a mountain are interested in the culture at the base of those mountains, and interested in preserving the environments in which they are going out to visit.”
Ms. Long says it’s much more than a “raging base, jumping-off-a-mountain Fest,” she says. “It’s more slow and thoughtful.”
But a film like “The Kyrgyzstan Project” — the longest short here at 20 minutes — plays out like a thriller. Jim Aikman and Matt Segal’s film follows a group of climbers who return to the base of an ill-fated, 2000 climb, in which one of their members was kidnapped. The men are still troubled about what happened, but are intent on finishing their climb.
Ms. Long’s personal favorite is “SLOMO,” Joshua Izenberg’s doc on a neuroscientist, who quits his job and moves to the beach to take up rollerblading … in slow-motion. She calls it an inspirational film about choosing your dream over a regular job.
Other films worth looking for in the evening include, “The Secrets of the Mongolian Archer” from Oscar-nominated Director, Lucy Walker; “Well-fed,” a short doc from Anna Moot-Levin about carnivorous plants like Venus flytraps; Django Django’s music video for their song “WOR,” featuring Indian motorcyclists who defy injury in a “Well-of-Death” stunt show; “Paper Shredder” an animated short by Paul Gemignani that turns snowboarding into paper art; and Jason Houston and Hal Clifford’s “Rock Wall Climbing,” which focuses on a determined little girl and a very high wall.
“I love thinking about the flow of an event,” Ms. Long says, who — like the SLOMO character — loves her current job. “How an adventure film moves into a slower pace film, moves into something sad, then moves into something uplifting. I like thinking about how audiences are going to be taken on a ride, even though it’s a lot of different topics. You come out of a Telluride Mountainfilm show having been told a kind of story throughout the evening.”
‘Mountainfilm in Telluride Tour’
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Where: UCSB Campbell Hall
Cost: $15/$10 UCSB students/youth
Information: 893-3535, www.ArtsAndLectures.ucsb.edu