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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Up Bear Creek / 3jun50011

Basking in the MtnFilm Afterglow

MASON’S THEATRE … Mountainfilm is such a wonderful spring rush of movies, lectures and performances. There’s always too much happening to experience it all. In the end, everyone has their own version of the festival that they take away with them, trading stories of what they saw, what moved them most … For me, as one of the emcees at the Mason’s Hall (transformed into a theater), it was one dazzling slice of the whole enchilada. So, don’t take my take as definitive … This year my biggest takeaway was the hope inspired by hearing Alec Loorz speak at the Youth In Action segment of Friday’s Moving Mountains Symposium, “Awareness into Action.” Too young to vote but eloquently aware of the ominous impacts on his generation’s future from our country’s current failure to address the global climate change issue in any meaningful way, Loorz (about to turn 17)) has been actively speaking about the necessity of taking immediate action since he was 12 years old. “Everything we do affects everything that is,” he explains, “from polar bears to fungus to future generations.” Americans need to hear this brilliant young man, and pay attention to his call for action. It’s not the politicians (old men and women like me) who are leading on this issue, it’s our youth. Alec is not just a leader for the future, he’s a leader right now … Of course, so is Tim DeChristopher, who also spoke passionately about his generation, “a generation out of time.” And what is our nation doing to this brave leader? Sentencing him to prison. What an incredible failure of leadership that injustice represents. The banks get bailed out for failing, and one of our most eloquent environmental activists gets jailed for saving wild lands from our ravenous industrial hunger for carbon-killing energy. Check out Tim’s group, Peaceful Uprising, and give them some of your life-saving human energy … Trip Jenning’s Spoil was my favorite activist film – detailing the work of the International League of Conservation Photographers in their effort to help the Gitga’at First Nation people of British Columbia stop a proposed tar sands pipeline from Alberta that’s being proposed to cut an oil tanker route through the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest north of Vancouver Island. Seeing enviros teaming up with native people to protect this incredible intact ecosystem was almost as powerful as seeing close-up footage of one of the famed Spirit Bears of Canada – not albinos, but rare black bears that are born white … One Plastic Beach wasn’t so much a call to action as a paean to the beauty possible even in the castoff detritus of our wasteful society. It didn’t try to preach. It just showed how a visionary couple from California had transformed plastic jetsam into masterful works of art. It just so happened that the beach they patrolled to find the plastic curiosities for their sculptures and prints is a special place in my geographical pantheon – Kehoe Beach, on the Inverness Peninsula, north of San Francisco – the inspiration for one of the seminal poems in my own book, As If the World Really Mattered … While I got to see a number of great adrenaline films – The Fall Line, The Desert River, In the Shadow of the Mountain, On Assignment: Jimmy Chin, my favorite had to be Pete Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s Swiss Machine. Watching alpinist Ueli Steck summit the north face of the Eiger in under three hours was unbelievable.  Let me say that again – unbelievable. If you’re a climber, you’ve got to see this film … Perhaps the most endearing flick and performance had to be Oscar Bucher’s Waiting for a Train and the songs that Toshio Hirano sang for us at the Mason’s – bluegrass classics, a couple Jimmy Rodgers tunes and the one original piece Toshio’s has written. We learn of Hirano’s ah-ha moment hearing a song of Rodgers for the first time as a youth in Tokyo and his life odyssey following his bliss to the Blue Ridge Mountains and eventually the San Francisco Mission district (two blocks from the hospital I was born in). Every year Mountainfilm seems full of such synchronicities and surprises … Hard not to mention two short charmers – Matt Morris’ Mr. Happy Man and Gail Dolgan and Robin Fryday’s The Barber of Birmingham. Johnny Barnes of Bermuda is the subject of the first, a loving eccentric bringing a little bit of joy to island commuters; and the second captures the span of the civil rights struggle in this country from the Sixties to today through the memories and life of one’s of its foot-soldiers, Mr. Armstrong, a barber. Both Mr. Armstrong and Ms. Dolgan passed away before this film was completed, and it’s a monument to both of them as well as a testament to a nation’s shame turned redemptive dream come true … Finally, the most personally moving film I saw was Patricio Guzmán Nostalgia for the Light – a haunting exploration of the astronomers’ search for light from stars in the far distant past with the on-going search for bones of the Disappeared from the Pinochet era by family and friends in Chile’s Atacama Desert … Of course, Mountainfilm was so much more. But even my little Mason’s slice of the festival was a dazzler. Now, let our summer begin.


Growing Up

Over the basketball rim
the wild rose
a couple of pink blossoms
a shred of net left.

Looks like
the kids
have grown up too.

-Doc Dachtler
From Skid Marks and Snow Geese
(Larkspur Press, Kentucky, 2011)

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