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arts-2-1545-tellurideTelluride’s 17 films in 120 Minutes put some juice into the documentary format

Before Michael Moore was a household name, before An Inconvenient Truth, before documentaries were mainstream entertainment, there was Telluride Mountainfilm.

Founded in 1979, Mountainfilm has always had a knack for finding and curating a slate of films with zing and zest, and this Friday local audiences get to watch the cream of the juried crop of shorts at the Rio Theatre’s Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour.

Mountainfilm started with a primary focus on stoking audience adrenaline. If it could be done in the mountains—on snow, ice, rivers, canyons, cliffs, or in the sky above peaks—the subject matter could qualify as a documentary for Telluride.

Since then, Mountainfilm has broadened into culture, travel, environmental, and social issues, and now features panel discussions, lectures and stories, ultimately becoming of interest to anyone with a hankering to know more about our big, beautiful, harrowing world.

The 17 shorts selected for this Tour range from three to 15 minutes and will deliver a mash-up ride of fun, education and inspiration.

There’s surfing amid icebergs off the frozen waters of Iceland, California farmers dealing with drought, a London artist-inventor-designer on a quest to “come up with something creative” each day, a bike ride from Oregon to Patagonia, a Nepalese Rinpoche believed to be the reincarnation of the Tengboche Rinpoche, protecting the Canyonlands with Edward Abbey’s passionate language, and more.

I began attending Mountainfilm in 1991, and went for most of the next 20 years. In the early days, some documentaries were a sheer delight, and others were edifying but depressing. Many filmmakers failed to present solutions, ideas for solutions, or even a lone idealist attempting a solution. I sometimes sobbed on my partner’s shoulder in the dark of a theater, unable to exit for a time.

Documentary filmmaking has come a long way since then, and you can stay home and watch a bazillion of them. But you won’t get the thrill of the Telluride brand and the high of sharing it with your friends and neighbors.

Telluride Mountainfilm Festival on Tour is from 7-10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 13 at Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz. 479-9421. Tickets $18 on brownpapertickets or at Tomboy, next to the Rio.


‘FORCE’ AWAKENS Climber Josh Huckaby in the short film ‘Force,’ which will screen at the Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour festival at Rio Theatre on Friday, Nov. 13.

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