by Mollee Harper, Senior Editor
Georgia Film News sits down with Katherine Albert, Director of the Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah, to discuss their unique film festival model, and its first tour stop in 2017 in Savannah, Georgia on January 19-21. During our time together, Albert shares insights into the history of the 35-year-old Mountainfilm organization, the annual film festival kickoff in Telluride and what’s in store for film lovers in this year’s festival and 30 film lineup in Savannah later this week.
Albert explained, “The Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour has been around for approximately 35 years and initially started around the sport of skiing with an adrenaline series about adventures. Over the years, it has expanded to cover the human experience, environmental responsibility, and more. The town of Telluride is a real utopia, so safe and beautiful and free.”
“Each year during the annual kickoff festival in Telluride, an estimated 300 films are debuted. Awards are given out at the end of the festival, and the next year’s lineup of films is selected for the tour. Last year, these award-winning films became the basis of the 150 location worldwide tour for this year reaching over 160,000 people world-wide” Albert added.
Telluride Mountainfilm is a dynamic organization and festival of films that celebrate, educate and inspire individuals and communities to make the world a better place.
Their mission is to use the power of film, art and ideas to educate and inspire audiences to explore and embrace adventure, cultural diversity, environmental awareness and the beauty of life.
The Mountainfilm staff meets every Memorial Day weekend against the backdrop of the San Juan Mountains in Telluride, Colorado for their annual film festival kickoff. There are thousands of people in attendance every year at the Telluride event, many returning year after year, along with the Mountainfilm staff and featured filmmakers for the one-of-a-kind, inspirational weekend. Attendees include artists, entertainment industry professionals, adventurers and advocates.
Throughout the remainder of the year, Mountainfilm takes their show on the road, traveling year-round and worldwide with a selection of the most-loved films from the annual festival in Telluride. These features are presented to local communities, schools, colleges, corporations, community groups, theatre operators and film lovers alike. Many communities use the Mountianfilm on Tour to raise funds for their communities. Each year, Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour inspires and touches the lives of over 160,000 people in 150 locations on six continents.
Albert offered, “While we don’t have mountains in Savannah, we have many cultural experiences and differences and share a common need to come together to connect, learn, rejuvenate, and inspire one another. Seeing Mountainfilm can be like a healing experience.”
“Savannah has been a stop on the Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour for 8 years now.” When we started we had about 80 attendees and now we max out the Trustees Theatre at about 1,000 people for each screening during this annual film festival. Over the course of the three-day event, we might see 6,000 people including 3,200 students.”
Albert continued, “We have a program called ‘Movies That Matter’ that is an educational outreach program with strong community advocates that provide funding allowing us to bus in 3,200 middle and high school students from the public school system. This provides those students with the opportunity to experience educational films and interact with industry professionals, at no cost. Savannah is the host of the second largest outreach organization in the world.”
This year’s film festival starts at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 19, 2017 with the screening of Life, Animated – a feature by Academy Award-winning Director Roger Ross Williams about the life of Owen Suskind and how art and animation helped bridge the communication gap with autism for this family.
Albert described, “Mountainfilm is typically shorts and documentaries. This is the first year in Savannah that we have done a documentary starting with the initial screening – Life, Animated. This family learns how to better communicate with their autistic child through animation and illustrations. The father and best selling NY Times author, Ron Suskind, will be taking questions from the audience following the screening via Skype. We will have some members of the medical community as well as autism advocates joining us for Q&A after that screening.”
“Ticket prices are from $5-15 per screening. We do have some free events open to the public during the festival. There will be a coffee talk event to discuss community, and a Telluride Bicycle Campaign sponsored by one of our partners, as well as a 1.5 mile walk led by Johnny Jameson from the Mile 19 film, one of this year’s features. Jameson is a Vietnam Veteran who conquered PTSD by running marathons. This will be a great event for other veterans who can find inspiration from his film and spending time with him during that walk.” Albert concluded.
The three-day film festival will be held at the Trustees Theater located at 216 East Broughton Street in Savannah, Georgia and includes daily and nightly screenings for 30 films. The festival concludes on Saturday, January 21, 2017 in Savannah before heading to its next destination.
Katherine Albert serves as the Director for Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah, since 2016. Albert has a deep background in event planning and non-profit work in Savannah. She served as Chair, organizing and hosting the Historic Savannah Foundation’s first annual Preservation Festival in 2012 and Afterglow Gala from 2012-2015. Albert also served on the 13th Colony Board as the Special Events Chair and was on the House Committee for the Davenport House Museum and the Board of the Caretta Project.
For more information about this year’s Telluride Mountainfilm on Tour in Savannah, visit http://www.mountainfilm.org/.