Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture
Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture

Inspiring Mountain Films come to South Shore Oct 20

Posted on October 1, 2012
Filed Under South Tahoe Events

A metaphor for our lives, this collection of films are all about mountains: mountain sports, mountain cultures, mountain issues.  Like other world wide mountain communities, Tahoe’s range and the surrounding Sierra Nevada shape our priorities, inspiring a different way of life.

Sierra-at-Tahoe invites you to get inspired and celebrate our mountain culture at the Mountain Film Festival on October 20, 2012 at MontBleu.

On October 20th, local adventurers  Todd Offenbacher and John Rice of Sierra-at-Tahoe, will host this year’s leading independent documentary films from around the world, to educate and inspire us about issues that matter, cultures worth exploring, environments worth preserving and conversations worth sustaining.

Sierra-at-Tahoe presents Mountain Film

Oct. 20th at MontBleu

Doors open 6:30 PM

Show starts 7:30 PM

Tickets are $12, or $5 for children under 12 + fees. Tickets are available at the MontBleu box office or by calling 888.829.7630.

Mountain Films

A Desert Life

A desert can be stark, arid and inhospitable, but it’s also a place of elemental beauty and compelling vitality that reveals its richness to the dedicated, patient observer. To say that inveterate climber and social dropout Alf Randell has a “desert life” is a perfect metaphor: Outwardly, living in a remote beaten-up camper and earning a subsistence living might well seem a little barren.

All.I.Can JP Auclair Street Segment

JP Auclair teams up with Sherpas Cinema in this short, mind-blowing segment from the 2011 Powder Magazine Movie of the Year All.I.Can to tame the mean streets of British Columbia on skis. You might have seen this footage on your computer, but check it out on the big screen.

Among Giants

In 2008, a company called Green Diamond Resource Company began clear-cutting redwood trees in Northern California’s McKay Tract, a lush and shadowy forest that was home to towering trees, tall ferns and wildlife. A group of activists responded by moving into the trees, setting up their lives in tarp structures in the lofty canopies among the trill of birdsong and the patter of rainfall. Among Giants focuses on one of the activists, Farmer, who has been living in the trees for three years and etches out a solitary and soggy existence based on faith and resistance.

Baseball in a Time of Cholera

This film isn’t really about either baseball or cholera. Instead, it concentrates on the playfulness and joy of the game as it nudges up against and intermingles with the death and despair of the disease after the 2011 earthquake in Haiti. It’s more a film about incongruities and complexities, unforeseen consequences and unending hope. It’s also about good intentions that can bring bad results. Ultimately, though, this film is simply about the unending tragedy of poverty.

Blue Obsession

The Mendenhall Glacier in southeast Alaska offers an otherworldly landscape — fields of crumpled ice, massive hunks of blue, glassy caves and all manner of frozen water. It’s beautiful, but it’s also ephemeral: The glacier is in a state of retreat. Climber Alan Gordon has been exploring the glacier for years, watching as old features melt away and new ones are revealed, and now he’s determined to document its stunning but fleeting scenery before it disappears forever. Blue Obsession, a film about his mission, offers a short and gorgeous portrait of a landscape in flux.

Code Red

In August 2011, Tahiti was hit with a massive swell that created 20-foot-plus waves and forced the authorities to declare “code red,” which shut down Teahupoo to surfing. Of course, with huge waves thundering, a few brave souls saw not risk, but opportunity.


We know from Telluride that every small town has its own quirky characters, but few places could boast the cast of oddballs, misfits and strange birds that populate Darwin, California (named after Dr. Darwin French, a 19th century adventurer). Situated near Death Valley, there is no church, school or town government, so with its desolate location and population of 43, Darwin draws residents who want to get away from society. They all have their reasons for reclusiveness, yet they still allow director Nick Brandestini into their strange, yet compelling, world.

Eco Ninja

From the maker of the award-winning short film The Job (Mountainfilm 2007) comes this satirical brief comedy about a corporation that enforces a go-green policy in its offices by hiring an Eco Ninja who takes his duties all too seriously. As usual, Jonathan Browning and Screaming Frog Productions think outside the box — and then recycle the box.


Ernest Wilkerson is struggling to hold onto an independent lifestyle while facing a changing world and his own advancing age. Born in 1924, this humble mountain man cherishes his active life: “I cannot picture myself just sittin’ around doing nothin’.” A local legend in Monte Vista, Colorado, Wilkerson learned to fend for himself at a young age, becoming a government-hired wildlife trapper, taxidermist, conservationist and teacher of backcountry survival skills. His specialty is snow caves, but he says, “Your best survival tool is your brain.”

Hi! I’m a Nutria

This cheeky little rodent lives in Lake Washington and questions how long it takes to become a “native.” He lists a whole slew of other animals who aren’t native to North America, including, well, us.

I Believe I Can Fly

Count on the French for the latest invention in the realm of highlining, speedflying and, er, line jumping? Whatever you call this cross between highlining, bungee jumping and BASE jumping that filmmaker Seb Montaz-Rosset highlights in this teaser of I Believe I Can Fly (Flight of the Frenchies), it certainly is crazy. And entertaining. As onlookers watch in terror, the Frenchmen have us convinced, if only for a moment, that they can truly fly.

Industrial Revolutions

There seems to be no end to what Danny MacAskill can do on a trials bike, whether it be on the streets of Dunvegan, Scotland, or in an abandoned industrial train yard. Ben Howard’s song “The Wolves” artfully underscores MacAskill — whose bike seems almost an extension of his body — as he performs electrifying tricks in unexplored places.

Into the Middle of Nowhere

Children don’t need shiny plastic things, video games or expensive toys to have fun. A pile of logs and sticks can provide an active imagination with plenty of tools for hours of entertainment. This film takes us Into the Middle of Nowhere — an outdoor nursery in the Scottish countryside with a group of children who are just learning about the challenges of growing up. The woods become the place where the normal rules of society come to a halt and where play transforms the surroundings into the children’s wildest imaginations.

Into Thick Air

The Seven Summits are a legendary accomplishment for alpinists. So how did a motley crew of Midwesterners achieve them — and over a weekend, no less? They redefined the summits, making them the highest points of seven Midwestern U.S. states. These men don’t need climbing rope or crampons — a passenger van and a designated driver is the key to them bagging their goal.


The scene is set with two young women — Sophie Windsor Clive and Liberty Smith — on a casual canoe trip on the River Shannon in Ireland. Under heavy skies, they make their way to a bird-infested island where they witness a gathering of starlings — a “murmuration” — that is so phenomenal and surreal that it’s almost poetry in motion. If this story sounds familiar, it might be because their simple, two-minute film — called Murmuration — went viral last year. Island is a longer, yet equally compelling, version of an unforgettable paddling adventure.

Julio Solis, A MoveShake Story

Julio Solis grew up near Magdalena Bay in Baja, Mexico, where turtles were plentiful. As he got older, he watched their population decrease from over harvesting, so he dedicated himself to conservation of the reptiles. This short film by Allie Bombach and Brenda Barrera is part of a series and profiles people who are doing the best they can to change the world.

Last Light

Shot entirely during what’s called the “magic hour,” cinematographer and editor Ben Sturgulewski of Sweetgrass Productions takes us on a self-powered, all-you-can-shred spine buffett in Haines, Alaska, with skiers Stephan Drake, Forrest Shearer and Johan Jonsson.

Last of the Great Unknown

The Grand Canyon, a barren labyrinth of light and shadows, was one of the last places in the American West to be surveyed. John Wesley Powell, before he made the first descent via the Colorado River in 1869, called it “The Great Unknown.” Much of it still is today, and river runners, backpackers, lithic hunters and butte baggers seek prestigious “firsts” in the Grand Canyon’s innumerable technical slots.

Living Downstream

Like her hero, the pioneering environmental writer and activist Rachel Carson (author of Silent Spring), Sandra Steingraber is a cancer victim. Diagnosed at age 20, she successfully battled the disease for 30 years. During that time she’s used her knowledge and training as a biologist to bridge the gap between what scientists and the medical community regard as the causes of cancer. Steingraber grew up surrounded by toxic chemical discharge from industrial agriculture and is certain that her childhood environment and her health as an adult are intimately connected.

Living Tiny

“People like having lots of stuff, Americans in particular,” says one of the characters in the charming documentary Living Tiny. In a country obsessed with growth and progress, there is a small, but growing, population of people who are rejecting the axiom that “bigger is better” and are downsizing. Their tiny abodes, no larger than 200 square feet, are not caging them, but liberating them from a culture of consumption. “Ultimately you can only occupy 12 square feet of space at a time. Everything else is just a place to keep your stuff.”

Low & Clear

According to J.T. Van Zandt, son of songwriting legend Townes Van Zandt, the biggest mistake that people make when fishing is that they try to catch fish. But his buddy Alex “Xenie” Hall sees it differently. Since their early years together flyfishing near Pagosa Springs, their lives have followed different paths. Van Zandt has “grown up” into daily responsibilities with less time to fish, but Hall still lives for the next steelhead.

Meet Mr. Toilet

For those without access to a simple toilet, poop can be poison. But it’s not just a problem for the poor. Mr. Toilet — a nickname for the businessman turned sanitation superhero, Jack Sim, whose mission is to make sure everyone on the planet has access to clean toilets — says “flies don’t know the difference between a rich man and a poor man, so the rich man is probably eating the shit of the poor man…. Think about it.”

Mission of Mermaids

Susan Cohn Rockefeller’s film Making the Crooked Straight, about Dr. Rick Hodes, won the Moving Mountains Prize in 2009. The director returns with a very different film, a personal yet allegorical tale about the state of our troubled oceans. More traditional films have been made about the science of the subject, so her hope with Mission of Mermaids is that the mythical creature — a symbol of mystery and hope — will inspire our hearts to save the seas.


Dean Potter is nothing if not creative. In this short piece, he highlines across a desert landscape with a massive full moon as his backdrop.

Not Yet Begun to Fight

There are few things more poignant than to see strong brave men and women — warriors, all — reduced by the ravages of combat to brokenness: brokenness not just of the body, but also of the soul. Yet there is a tremendous redemptive power in witnessing those same tragically weakened and humbled men overcoming such harsh adversity to regain their honor, confidence and self-esteem. When such a story plays out against the timeless backdrop of Montana riverscapes and the meditative focus of flyfishing, it becomes all the more moving.

Outside the Box

In 2011, Anna Stohr and Juliane Wurm came to the U.S. to prepare for the Boulder World Cup. Part of their training included time with Lynn Hill. While the two young women are at the top of their sport, they realize they still have a lot to learn from Hill, who was the first person to free the Nose in Yosemite (which is considered to be one of the most impressive climbing feats in the twentieth century). Hill introduces Stohr and Wurm to crack climbing in Utah.


Like urban mountaineers, the immigrant window washers profiled in this short incisive film rappel down sheer cliffs of city glass. Knowing that a fatal fall may await them over the edge of any given skyscraper, they are nonetheless happy to take the risk because it yields a far better life than any they could ever hope for in their home countries. Still, their thoughts away from the job are unusually prone to existential musings.

Picture the Leviathan

James Prosek is much like an artist in the tradition of nineteenth-century naturalists who cataloged the world as they discovered it. The difference is that Prosek paints creatures that are vanishing and hopes that by helping audiences to “know” these threatened creatures, he will improve their chances for survival. And so he quests after some 40 different Atlantic fish species — swordfish off Newfoundland, giant groupers in the Bahamas, a 900-pound black marlin in the Cape Verde Islands — to capture them exactly as they appear alive in the wild.

Race for the Nose

The boys from Senders Films know how to make climbing films — and this is a fine example of their work as Dean Potter and Hans Florine ascend the Nose at El Capitan in an attempt to set a new speed record — again.

Racing the End

Bike racing in Los Angeles, California? No way. There are too many cars. This may be the illest road race on the planet. Legality is questionable and trying to hold the wheel of the fixie in front might mean a pre-dawn, clandestine and completely certifiable victory. There is no way those dog tags are leaving L.A.


“Higher, harder, stronger, lighter. Need less, do more. Pull, kick, shatter.” This is the mantra of Steve House as he contemplates and then free solos a prodigious wall of ice in this incisive and lyrically filmed short. Hailed by mountaineering legend Reinhold Messner as “the best high-altitude climber in the world,” House is known for his minimalist approach, using as little gear as possible, a style that he says yields the richest results.

Silvia – Ian McKillick

Mountain biker Ian Killick is featured in this flawless short by Karl Heldt and Matt Miles of Silvia Films.

Sketchy Andy

Remember the guy on the slackline who nearly stole the spotlight from Madonna during her Super Bowl Halftime Show? That was Andy Lewis, a.k.a. Sketchy Andy. Professional slackliner, base jumper, highliner and all-around crazy desert monkey, Sketchy Andy is a study of the fine line between pioneering athlete and fearless maniac. He took the activity of slacklining — long the mellow pastime of climbers hanging out at camp — and morphed it into a trick-studded, danger-laden, full-fledged sport.

Smoke Songs

Punk rock and human rights don’t necessarily share a common cause, but in the case of the band Blackfire, their music and their message are two integral parts of a solid and strong identity. Born into the heart of the Navajo Nation in an area on Black Mesa that is still in political dispute, band members (and siblings) Jeneda, Clayson and Klee Benally find it impossible to separate their passion for music from their socio-political messages.

Song of the Spindle

“I think humans could really learn something from us whales,” says one of the two characters in this humorous, animated short that imagines a whimsical conversation between a sperm whale and a man. Guess which one has more wisdom?

Stories of TRUST: Calling for Climate Recovery

Seventeen-year old activist Alec Loorz takes on the U.S. government. In an unprecedented legal filing, Loorz and youth from across that country that are members of iMatter — the climate group he founded — sued the U.S. government, calling upon the courts to put in place “Climate Recovery Plans” that will protect the atmosphere for future generations. Produced by WITNESS, Montana State University’s MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking, Our Children’s Trust and Kids v.

Stuff Everywhere

For many of us, stuff rules our lives more than we would like to admit. This is definitely the case for Judith de Leeuw, who lives a normal life with her boyfriend and young son in a small apartment in the Netherlands. Stuff Everywhere documents her personal quest to discover the connection between people and their stuff. Slightly obsessed with her own possibly unhealthy connection to her stuff, she decides to count it — all of it. But counting stuff isn’t as simple as it might sound, and de Leeuw finds herself spiraling deeper and deeper into the obsession.

Tent Bound in Devil’s Bay

It was a good idea in theory. Climbers Hazel Findlay, Alex Honnold, James Pearson and Mark Synnott struck out for a remote bay in Newfoundland to establish new trad routes on a massive granite wall that juts 1,200 feet out of the ocean. After who knows how much planning and an arduous five-day journey, they arrived to find spectacular scenery, but climbing was swiftly shut down by relentless, cold rainfall. They were so close. And then they were stuck in their cell-like tents to wait out the rain and wonder whether it was all worth it.

Terra Blight

How about these numbers: Americans spent $165 billion on consumer electronics in 2010, and we bought more than 260,000 computers a day. E-waste is the fastest-growing stream of waste in the world (there are approximately 40 million metric tons of it each year worldwide) and is the subject of this fast-paced film by Isaac Brown and Eric Flagg, who were previously at Mountainfilm in 2007 with Gimme Green.

The Denali Experiment

In 2011, The North Face assembled an eclectic team of athletes for a ski expedition up Denali, the hulking 20,320-foot mountain that rises from a snow-clad range in Alaska’s interior. The trip, captured in Camp 4 Collective’s film The Denali Experiment, brings together an unexpected mix of new-school talent and mountaineering veterans, matching the likes of Sage Cattabriga-Alosa, the spine-ripping star of ski films by Teton Gravity Research, with experts of the high mountains, such as Conrad Anker and Telluride’s Hilaree O’Neill. The result?

The Freedom Chair

Josh Dueck was a passionate free-skier who found himself coaching world-class athletes, such as TJ Schiller and Justin Dorey, at a young age. But one day, he misjudged his speed as he approached a jump, and what could have been a harmless mistake, brought inextricable, life-altering consequences. When he crashed, his spinal cord was severed, leaving him paralyzed. Instead of giving up on skiing, however, Dueck refocused his passion into sit-skiing, and the experience allowed him to jump-start a new career and find a new way to do what he loves the best: ski.

The Man Who Lived on His Bike

What can you do on a bicycle? For Guillaume Blanchet, the question is what can’t you do? In this two-minute homage to bikes and the bike obsessed, Blanchet eats, sleeps, showers, shaves, works, cooks and even dates — all from atop his man-powered machine.

The Nomad

Erik Boomer, featured as a presenter in the 2012 festival for his circumnavigation of Ellesmere Island with Jon Turk, is the star of this short film by Forge Motion Pictures. Why does he wander? What is he seeking? Traveling by foot, skis and kayak, Boomer moves through the world and his life in a way few others do.

The Old Breed

By 2010, only two of the world’s 50 highest mountains remained unclimbed. In The Old Breed, veteran climbers Mark Richey and Steve Swenson — who are both in their 50s — set their sights on the taller of the two, Saser Kangri II, which rises from the Indian Ocean to 7,518 meters. Along with climbing partner Freddie Wilkinson, they head into the thin air and rugged peaks of the Karakoram.

The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks

“You shouldn’t have to convince people to go to paradise,” says Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. As an African American, he is unsettled by the fact that only 1 percent of those who visit Yosemite share his race. The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks follows the brief journey of a group of African American seniors from Los Angeles, California, as they experience these sacred lands.


Two climbers chose an ambitious line to tackle. It’s long, logistically challenging and comes with plenty of unknowns. It also happens to be in a grove of trees. Directed by John Waller (who brought us Into Darkness in 2011), Treeverse features Brian French and Will Koomjian as they attempt a 1-kilometer transect through a grove of oak trees in northwest Oregon.

Unicorn Sashimi

Telluride’s own Felt Soul Media teamed up with Nick Waggoner and Yuki Mayazaki of Sweetgrass Productions to track a wild unicorn in Hokkaido, Japan. But all they found was delicious ramen — and deep, sweet snow.


We live in a special place. A place so beautiful it nurtures the soul and creative spirit. A place so breathtaking it inspires conservation. A mountain culture that masters the fine art of living. Welcome to this place we call home. Welcome to Lake Tahoe. Meet the local artists, individuals, businesses and events that define our unique mountain culture and embody Tahoe's creative and entrepreneurial spirit.
Obexer's West Shore Lake Tahoe since 1911
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Fall at Lake Tahoe
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