Mountainfilm Announces First Confirmed 2011 Festival Guests

Mar 2nd @ 6:09 am in News by Scott Staley

The annual Mountainfilm in Telluride festival is always about much more than just powerful films. What really sets the festival apart is the depth and breadth of its line-up of special guest presenters. The 33rd annual event scheduled for May 27 – 30, 2011 will prove no exception. Festival Director David Holbrooke feels that it is both the quality of the guests and the rare opportunity that audiences are provided to engage and interact with them that is especially exciting and unique.

“Our theme this year is awareness into action,” Holbrooke said. “So we were particularly looking for special guests who can both motivate our audiences – engage and energize them – but also give them practical, hands-on help in actually becoming involved in critical issues. We want people to have much better tools for making a difference when they leave this year’s festival.”

Holbrooke is looking forward to welcoming back Terry Tempest Williams to Telluride this year.

“Terry just embodies so much of what we are about at Mountainfilm,” he said. “Her insight into the times we live in is so thoughtful but she’s also an amazing artist and a noholds- barred advocate for ethical, environmental and social justice.”

The list of early confirmations includes:
Dan Austin. Austin is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the 88bikes Foundation, which endows orphanages, ashrams, schools and villages throughout the developing world with bikes for every child, sponsored one-to-one by individuals. 88bikes has been featured on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, CNN, NPR and Outside Magazine. Dan’s first documentary feature, True Fans, screened at Mountainfilm in 2000 and Dan has been back nearly every year since.

Baffin Babes. Vera, Emma, Inge & Kristin – four Scandinavian women who tackled a daunting 1200 km ski trip across Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic in 2009 – will talk about the challenges of their expedition, including sleeping in a tent at 40 below with polar bears as their closest neighbors. Their unique relationships and wonderful perspective on the joys of suffering together adds an endearing charm and a contagious uplifting spirit to their hugely popular presentation.

Paul Colangelo. Colangelo is a wildlife and nature photographer specializing in editorial assignments and conservation efforts. His work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute, was awarded an honorable mention in the International Photography Awards, and named a finalist in BBC’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Paul lives in Vancouver, BC. His photography/conservation project “Sacred Headwaters, Sacred Journey” was a recipient of one of the five inaugural Mountainfilm Commitment Grants in 2010.

Wade Davis. Davis is an Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society. He holds degrees in anthropology and biology and a PhD in ethnobotany, all from Harvard University. He has authored a dozen books, including The Serpent and the Rainbow, One River, The Clouded Leopard, Light at the Edge of the World, and The Lost Amazon. In 2002 he received the Lowell Thomas Medal and the Lannan Foundation prize for literary nonfiction and in 2004 was made an Honorary Member of the Explorers Club, one of twenty so named in the hundred-year history of the club. His many film credits include the award-winning series, Light at the Edge of the World.

Jason Houston. Houston is a photographer who delves deep into his subjects, focusing on long-term personal projects and editorial/NGO assignments. He works for non-profits, NGOs, and mission-driven companies to tell their stories and explore a variety of social and environmental issues. In his current position as picture editor at Orion Magazine – a nonprofit, non-commercial, ad-free and award-winning bi-monthly periodical – his work examines the complex relationships between people and nature.

M. Sanjayan. Sanjayan is the lead scientist for the Nature Conservancy, specializing in conservation and wildlife ecology. At Mountainfilm, he will speak at the symposium about how we can have an impact on the extinction crisis. He has been profiled by Outside Magazine and been a guest on Late Night with David Letterman.

Geoff Tabin. Tabin is an ophthamologist who has dedicated his life to curing people with preventable blindness. His work takes him all over the world from Nepal to Africa. He recently made a trip to Ethiopia with Mountainfilm regular, climber Timmy O’Neill who will present with him. The two men climbed in Ethiopia but also worked tirelessly to restore eye sight to Ethiopians. Tabin – also an accomplished mountaineer – was the fourth person in the world to climb all seven summits. His book, Blind Corners, was described by Sir Edmund Hillary as “an astonishing mixture of wild adventure and the overcoming of formidable challenges.”

Terry Tempest Williams. Williams is a writer who speaks and speaks out eloquently on behalf of an ethical stance toward life. A naturalist and fierce advocate for freedom of speech, she has consistently shown how environmental issues are social issues that ultimately become matters of justice. She has testified before Congress on women’s health issues, been a guest at the White House, has camped in the remote regions of Utah and Alaska wildernesses and worked as “a barefoot artist” in Rwanda. Terry will read from her recent book, Finding Beauty in a Broken World, which discusses mosaics, prairie dogs and creating art in Rwanda. Terry is working on a new book about the Gulf Oil Spill, an early portion of which was featured on in a recent cover article in Orion Magazine.

About Mountainfilm: Established in 1979, Mountainfilm in Telluride is dedicated to educating, inspiring and activating audiences about critical environmental, cultural and social issues. Working at the nexus of filmmaking, adventure and activism, its flagship program is the legendary Mountainfilm Festival—a one-of-a-kind combination film festival, ideas summit and jamboree. Mountainfilm also reaches audiences year round through its worldwide tour, on Outside Television, with its online Minds of Mountainfilm interviews and in classrooms through its educational outreach initiative, Making Movies that Matter. Mountainfilm has the power to change lives. To learn more, visit the website. To join the conversation, please visit the blog, follow us on Twitter, and become a fan on Facebook.