By Michael Somerby EBS ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
BIG SKY – With no hyperbole, one could say the people of Big Sky are slightly obsessed with mountains—but can you blame them with a 11,166-foot hulking mass perpetually looming over the community, 24/7, 365 days a year?
It’s only fitting that Big Sky play host to a film festival celebrating the awe-inspiring, practically celestial, bodies of rock and soil that trace and groove every continent in every climate, creating unique ecosystems for endemic flora and fauna, furnishing the setting for some of humanity’s most daring acts.
Back for its fourth year in Big Sky, the roots of Mountainfilm stretch back to 1979 Telluride, Colorado. One of the nation’s longest-running film festivals, Mountainfilm is supported by an eponymous nonprofit organization that “celebrates stories of indomitable spirit and aims to inspire audiences through film, art and ideas,” according to the Arts Council of Big Sky website.
ACBS Education and Outreach Director Megan Buecking said this year’s festival is a continued collaboration with Mountainfilm HQ in Telluride, and is broken into three days with specific themes and film offerings beginning on Friday, Sept. 13.
“The first day is Mountainfilm for Students on Friday,” said Buecking, a former art teacher for the Big Sky School District. “It comes from an educational standpoint, and a … couple of teachers are building Mountainfilm into their curriculums for additional integration.”
Those inaugural film offerings, closed to the public and held at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center, will be followed by a screening of “The Weight of Water,” a film showcasing the accomplishments of the first-ever blind kayaker, Erik Weihenmayer, to navigate the massive and treacherous rapids of the Grand Canyon, no small feat for even those with perfect 20/20 vision. Tickets cost $15, which gives attendees access to a reception at 6 p.m. and the 7 p.m. screening.
“Megan gave me three films to screen and I just fell in love with ‘The Weight of Water,’” said Rich Addicks, an ACBS board member and integral piece in bringing the festival to Big Sky four years ago. “It’s a wonderful film—emotional and inspirational, and it’s really well filmed and well told. If you’re a river person at all there will be moments you’re holding breath.”
The event will also be supplemented with a raffle to support local businesses and the ACBS.
“We will also be doing some door prizes with items donated by local businesses, with proceeds going to the Arts Council,” Buecking said. “A raffle ticket will come with the purchase of a ticket for the film, and more raffle tickets will be available for purchase at the WMPAC.”
On Saturday, Sept. 14, Women in Action, a Big Sky nonprofit geared to address the needs of children and families lacking educational, health and human services access, will present the Mountainfilm for Families Matinee, a free, but with limited seating available—so be sure to sign up online, event held at Lone Peak Cinema beginning at 10:30 a.m., complete with an art project, snacks and family-friendly documentary shorts.
Later that evening, the fourth annual night of Documentary Shorts at Lone Peak Cinema will commence with a reception at 6 p.m.
“The shorts touch on all the different action sports we [Big Sky locals] like,” Buecking said. “We really tried to get a healthy mix of different things—meaningful content to keep people engaged.”
The event will include door prizes and giveaways, will cost $15 and will conclude with an afterparty for those looking to continue in the Mountainfilm revelries.
Should one decide to partake in the afterparty, bear in mind that Sunday morning kicks off with a run. A special collaboration between ACBS and the Big Sky Community Organization, the “Town to Trails Race,” welcomes all levels of trail runners to tour Big Sky’s Uplands and Hummocks trail systems, a roughly 6-mile course.
A $35 registration fee includes a long-sleeve race shirt and prizes for top winners. The race is set to begin at 10 a.m. at the corner of Aspen and Simkins drives, the future site of the BASE community center.
“We are all really excited about this collaboration,” Buecking said. “It’s pretty great when two community nonprofits can get together and make something special.”
Mountainfilm On Tour will close out with a free screening of a series of short documentaries in Big Sky Town Center Park, each documentary focusing on culture and society. The screening will be family-friendly and open to all, so that any passerby might be enticed to join in on the viewing.
“Bring chairs, bring a blanket, bring some snacks and bring family and friends,” Buecking said.
Sometimes, as we go throughout our day-to-day lives in Big Sky, even that optical omnipresence of Lone Mountain can fade into the background of the day’s minutia. A call to action: Take part in Mountainfilm On Tour, if only to refresh that fixation that brought us all here in the first place.
Visit bigskyarts.org to view the full schedule and purchase tickets.