A scene from the base jumping film ‘When We Were Knight'
A&E

Preview: Telluride Mountainfilm Tour at the Rio

The successful return of the film festival is a boon for local schools

MIGHT AS WELL JUMP A scene from the base jumping film ‘When We Were Knight,’ part of the Telluride program at the Rio Theatre on Saturday, Nov. 12.

While Kathy O’Hara Ferraro was working for UCSC’s Recreation Department, she found her niche bringing film festivals to campus. She got so good at it, though, that about a decade ago she had more than she could handle, and something had to go. The Telluride Film Festival got the short straw.

“We were doing six film festivals,” she says. “Something had to give, so we let go of it.”

The thing is, she really loves what Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour does, and while even those of us familiar with the many popular adventure and mountain-culture film festivals Ferraro has produced in Santa Cruz over the years may not be able to eloquently explain the difference between them, she can.

“Telluride is way more rounded,” she says, comparing it to the highly adrenalized Radical Reels Tour. “There are environmental films, cultural films and adventure films. Films with heart.”

So when organizers of the festival’s touring program reached out to her a couple of years ago, she went to Laurence Bedford, owner of the Rio Theatre, and said “I think it’s time to bring Telluride back to Santa Cruz.” He signed on, and the reboot of Telluride locally last year was a big success.

For Ferraro, choosing the films for the Mountainfilm on Tour’s Santa Cruz show is almost like making a music playlist, since the films are short and have to flow into one another—the longest this year is Ryan Peterson’s 25-minute documentary short The Super Salmon, about the potential environmental impact of the multi-million-dollar mega-dam planned for Alaska’s Susitna River. And the program ends on the exhilarating Angel Collinson Annihilates Alaska, which, despite being only four minutes long, is the perfect closer, Ferraro says, because it’s a “kickass skiing film” that delivers a visceral rush.

Another reason she’s glad to be bringing the Telluride festival back is that there’s an educational aspect that allows her to bring some of the films into local high schools. Last year, Ferraro brought Telluride to both Scotts Valley High and Branciforte High, with both schools asking her to bring the program back this year, and—in the case of the latter—even expand it.

“These are film can inspire kids,” she says.


Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour Santa Cruz will be held at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12 at the Rio Theatre. See the complete playlist at riotheatre.com. Tickets are $18, available at brownpapertickets.com.

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