What does wilderness mean to you? President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Wilderness Act of 1964 defines American Wilderness as, “an area where the earth and its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain.” Mountainfilm in Telluride, one of America’s longest running independent documentary film festivals, is celebrating this idea of wilderness this May through its continued goals of education, exploration, adventure, and conversation. 
The meat of the festival is, of course, the film screenings. Pick an extreme sport – climbing, skiing, base jumping, kayaking – there is guaranteed to be a segment that will get your blood pumping and raise your stoke level for your next time out on rock, snow, water, etc. 
The festival also showcases the best in contemporary documentary films. Environmental and social commentaries like, “The Cove”, make their debut here in Telluride alongside films like, “God Loves Uganda”, an exploration of the anti-gay movements in Uganda. The coolest part about the film screenings is that they often have an in depth Q & A session with the film participants, directors, and/or producers. What do all these films have in common? They were made and grouped at the festival to inspire discussion and conversation, evoke emotional responses, and motivate us to get involved in our communities.
The Moving Mountains Symposium is the highlight of the education portion of the weekend. The 2014 symposium will explore the theme of Wilderness. The event spans an entire day, bringing together activists, academics, and artists to present a contemporary vision of today’s “wilderness” by building on past philosophies with an ever-changing global understanding. Some speakers include: writer and historian, Douglas Brinkley; professor of geography at UCLA and Pulitzer Prize winner, Jared Diamond; author and musician, David Rothenberg; and National Geographic Emerging Explorer, Juan Martinez.
The whole idea of Mountainfilm is community engagement so there are plenty of free activities throughout the weekend! The festival shows a film each night on a giant screen in Telluride’s town park. Bring a camp chair, some blankets, and a couple beers and join the fun! There are also themed Town Talks throughout the weekend where visitors have the opportunity to discuss hot topics that have been brought up by the films throughout the weekend.
Mountainfilm is a truly inspiring event. The festival will take place in Telluride from May 23-26, 2014 (Memorial Day weekend). Visit www.mountainfilm.org for more information.
If you can’t make it to the festival in Telluride this May, Mountainfilm also goes on tour! Certain films make stops around the country throughout the year. Check the listings to see if Mountainfilm is making a stop near you. At the very least, check out the film list to watch some of the films on your own time. There is no better (and easier!) way to stay informed and active in the contemporary environmental issues of the day.
By AI Blog contributor: Sophie Goodman

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