May 29, 2012

A photo guide to the inside of Mountainfilm, in Telluride.

elephant events: Photos of Mountainfilm, Day Two. ~ Jon Wall

Saturday started innocently enough, but the wind came down from the mountains.

If there were tumbleweeds they would have been rolling up and down the streets and straight into your coconut milk mate latte.

People layered up. Hats down, scarfs tight, batten down the hatches.

Stares of uncertain consternation filled eyes of passers-by.

Afternoon gave way to dusk and dusk to night. Choices. But not all the good kind.

When Mark Twain decried that whiskey was for drinking, it’s possible he was being overly ambitious.

Sunday morning after a night on the town, dance parties and rooftops, bars and sparsely lit strolls.

If there is one thing you should know about dance parties at Mountainfilm it is this: wear a shirt that does not share an attachment to your heart.

If you look at this shirt and hate it, and want to do everything in your power to destroy it, wear it to a dance party at Mountainfilm.

It should be noted, if you have never attended Mountainfilm, and you are saying to yourself at this very moment,

“gee I would love to go and see all those movies and see those tumbleweeds etc. etc.,”

you should be a fairly organized, punctual person for the best chance of success.

If you happen to be one of those people who find yourself perpetually running down the metaphorical airport terminal to catch a flight like someone trying to escape a Pauly Shore movie, you will have a hard time at Mountainfilm.

Find someone with a day planner and stay close to them, otherwise you are doomed.

A ticket to Mountainfilm does not guarantee you admission to a show—in fact your fancy blue press pass will only attract scornful looks of disdain from Mountainfilm staff when you arrive to a film—panting, panting—in what surely you thought was enough time to make it in.

Alas, if a film venue fills to capacity, in which almost all of the films at the smaller venues do, you will be subject to a slow shake of the head from the admission staff, feel terrible about your self—steal a quick look at the building’s maintenance blueprints for possible entry points into the sold-out theater through or air-ducts or underground tunnels—and then retreat to the land of the drifters and unpunctual, the purgatory of Mountainfilm, the Steaming Bean.

Fortunately, once in its incessantly crowded confines, you can begin your next plan of attack. Where to head next. And on this particular occasion it was to a venue to see a film about war.

You cannot understand a thing if you do not experience it, and it’s with that knowledge that you watch the film Not Yet Begun to Fight. It is a film that examines the post-war experiences of seriously injured veterans as they attempt to find direction after combat. It is of course unfathomable, and naïve, to pretend to understand the maelstrom that appears to swirl within these individuals.

But we know that, long after they have physically left the battlefield, they are still fighting something, violently.

The film examines the relationship between these men and their introduction to fly-fishing, a religion to many who practice it…and if nothing else a way to interact with the world around us. The film is not pushy in how it interprets the events that follow, but leaves the audience to wonder if the therapy these men were exposed to is what changes them, or if it is something else.

And as the credits rolled, and the film closed, the lights came up and we were left staring at the “Colonel,” the man behind the Warriors and Quiet Waters program.

He said, to paraphrase, one of the most oft-used and least understood phrases in our lexicon. He slowed a bit. Tears came to his eyes:

Love is what matters.

This a phrase that can be said and mean less than nothing. Words, petty and without weight. But there are people that understand it, and this can be seen in glimpses—through the actions of a man, for instance, who learned how to fly-fish after a war, in 1969 and felt something change in his heart and in those who decide to stop looking at their own damn feet, marching in that lulling, comfortable binary procession.

Follow that path and we become, as Bukowski said, watchers of game shows.

Mountainfilm is a forum that, at its best, prompts us to ask ourselves some variation of the question,

what is it that matters?

It is of course about entertainment, hypocrisy, privilege, money…always money, and sweaty dance floors, but it should never be allowed to be only this.

It is always the little things that matter.

Take the fucking time. Go. Find it in yourself, and improve. For yourself, yes, because it has to start there, but for others. This is what the best moments in Mountainfilm—or the arts in general—give us.

Challenge, master, improve, break paradigms.

Look up: a mirror and a chance to see how those around us make an impression on the world.

Refuse to keep the cycle going.

Do not stand for oppression if you value your soul.

Spit in a tyrant’s face.

Know that a wheelchair is not a prison, it is a symbol and a tool to lift the hearts of those around you.

Believe in the power of love, not the kind in movies, but the kind that is imperfect and sad and demands sacrifice.

Find beauty where there is none. Sing. Dance. Celebrate the countless pieces of life we should be thankful for. Sweat and light, emotion and connection, suffering and challenge, bravery and boundaries.

Try to change things. Imagine a world that is better, and try to make it material.

Push forward, know beauty and fortune and celebrate it.

It’s as simple as that.

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Editor: Kate Bartolotta

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