October 9, 2007

Justin and I have just returned from a short trip to Taos to attend the 7th annual Taos Mountain Film Festival. We were there to meet and greet both new and old friends, and to source potential movies for our next festival in May.

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The Taos Plaza. Note the prayer flags hanging above the venue, a ubiquitous sign of a mountain film festival. —Photo by Dave Brown

Taos is not far from Telluride, so we had a beautiful 6-hour drive through the shimmering fall colors of southwestern Colorado and northern New Mexico to get there on Friday. We arrived mid-afternoon and the weather was gorgeous—70 and sunny with a cool autumn breeze—exactly the sort of weather you don’t want for a film festival!

But we persevered, and shored ourselves up in dark theaters for two days of hardcore movie watching.

Taos is also known for its parties, though, and events are planned at least twice a day during the festival. I was sincerely stoked to meet Katie Lee at Eske’s Pub on Friday night (over pints of microbrew and bowls of New Mexican green chili), and then to get a chance to see her film on the Glen Canyon the next morning.

I was born after Glen Canyon had already been flooded by the Powell Reservoir, but seeing Katie Lee’s photographs of the endlessly intricate side canyons of this beautiful landscape brought tears to my eyes. She’s right, we need to keep special places like this wild, and if it means we need to stop “effing” having kids, then that’s the price we should pay. Check out the web site for the Glen Canyon Institute for more info.

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Up Dungeon Canyon, 1963. A side canyon of the Glen Canyon, now flooded under “Lake” Powell (the Powell Reservoir). —Photo by Robert H Moench

I was equally stoked on Saturday night to meet the kayaker Seth Warren, who, with Tyler Bradt, has just finished an epic expedition from the northernmost point of Alaska to the southernmost tip of South America, in a modified fire truck fueled completely by biodiesels like fish oil, french fry grease, pig oil, and palm oil (this last one does not come highly recommended). Oil & Water is the name of their expedition and also the name of the 30-minute teaser film that Taos screened this weekend. Seth & Tyler will have a feature length version of the film out by the winter. Hmmmm…

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“Baby,” a fire engine fueled exclusively by grease. —From the Oil & Water Project

Fall is high season for the mountain film world. Taos, one of two American festival to be invited to be member of the International Alliance for Mountain Film (the other is yours truly, Mountainfilm in Telluride), is the first of a series of mountain festival cousins, most of them abroad. Mountainfilm staff will be attending at least three more in the coming months: Edinburgh (in Scotland), Banff (in Canada) and Kendall (in England), but we’ll be missing Graz (Germany), Dundee (England), Autrans (France), Torello (Spain), and Kragnogorski (Russia). The ‘net makes it possible to seek out award-winning films from all these festivals, but there’s no substitution for meeting filmmakers in person.

I’ll be out of the office for the next few weeks, visiting festivals and taking a vacation, but we’ll make sure to keep the blog posts coming every Tuesday!

Posted by Emily Long

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