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  • Writer's picturePaulina Burnside

Seated to Inspire: Mountainfilm on Tour @ Sundance Resort

This article was originally published in SLUG Magazine.


To the good luck of story lovers and adventurers alike, Mountainfilm on Tour—a curation of films from the Mountainfilm Festival—will be projected at Sundance Mountain Resort on November 10 and 11. Both showings feature films about change makers, adventure and activism and will be projected at the resort’s state-of-the-art screening room, a venue that is used for Sundance Film Festival screenings and seats 150 people.


Mountainfilm Festival, which began in 1979, has historically taken place on Memorial Day weekend. During these few days, film lovers nestle up in the mountain town of Telluride, Colorado to indulge in short films and documentaries on adventure sports and novel exploration. The submissions compete within multiple categories, from awards such as Audience Choice, Women in Film, Student Choice and more. Ever since 1999, the film festival has ridden the energy of its weekend screenings in Telluride by taking its top films to the road. As the first round of spectators process the stories they have watched and check out of their hotels to head home, curated playlists from the festival spread to new theaters and show at international locations from Australia to Canada and domestically from New Hampshire to Alaska in what is known as Mountainfilm on Tour.


In a conversation about the upcoming arrival of Mountainfilm on Tour at Sundance, Mari Turner, Director of Programming and Art at Sundance Mountain Resort and Annie Condon, Sundance Public Relations Manager, recognize the shared values between Mountainfilm and Sundance. Sundance Mountain Resort, which is nestled in Provo Canyon an hour's drive from downtown Salt Lake City, is a campus that has long supported art, nature, recreation and the power of storytelling. Turner explains to me that Sundance had to choose which stories to host from a selection of three film playlists composed of the award-winners of the 2023 Mountainfilm Festival. Of those three, Turner selected “Indomitable Spirit” and “The Medley” to show at Sundance. Each night, these curated collections will be emceed by Sundance’s President and General Manager, Chad Linebaugh, who will speak before the films and during a brief intermission.


The “Indomitable Spirit” playlist of films, which will show on Friday, November 10, features nine films ranging from three to 20 minutes. This playlist covers the stories of three cyclists, a surfer, a runner, a climber, a skater and a participant in the iconic Iditarod sled dog race. “The Medley,” which also features nine films, will show on Saturday, November 11. Ranging from five to 22 minutes, this set includes stories of transformation and camaraderie. Among them are the pivot of a ballerina-turned-climber, the creation of a majority Black and Latino youth orchestra and the journey of a first-generation buffalo rancher.


As we discuss the best effects of film—how even just a few minutes of a movie can inspire change within the viewer—Condon asks whether I have watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a popular, 2013 outdoor adventure film directed by Ben Stiller. My brain sparks with eagerness, recalling imagery of impressive foreign mountains and naturally, an excitement about adventure journalism. “Every time I watch that scene, I feel like I’m skateboarding down that huge highline,” says Condon about a particularly cinematic moment wherein the protagonist, Walter Mitty, soars across an Icelandic landscape. Just as this scene inspired both of us, Condon hopes that attendees of Mountainfilm on Tour will be moved to apply change into their own lives after watching pieces that speak to them.


Undoubtedly, the bundling of award-winning short films that comprise Mountainfilm on Tour gives viewers multiple chances to connect with filmmaking. Specifically, Turner and Condon hope that viewers will be motivated to become better stewards of the environments they inhabit. “We hope that the effect of Sundance Mountain Resort is people going back to their normal lives, whether it's in Salt Lake City, or across the country, or maybe in a whole different continent, and just having a deeper reverence and respect for the environments around them,” says Condon. Together, Turner and Condon express excitement about the inaugural hosting of Mountainfilm on Tour at Sundance and hope to continue hosting these films in future years.


The craftiest filmmakers manage to make viewers squirm in their seats, eager to chase a new adventure. Mountainfilm on Tour at Sundance gives you just enough time to sit back and listen to the stories of people who are enacting change—people who you’ll hope to cross paths with. As you leave Sundance, these movies might just inspire you to get back after it.


While there are no concessions offered in the screening room, attendees are welcome to purchase food and drinks from the dining hall at Sundance. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. General admission tickets are priced at $20 per person. Tickets and additional information for Mountainfilm on Tour are available at www.sundanceresort.com/events/mountainfilm-on-tour-indomitable-spirit.

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