One advantage of living in a cosmopolitan city bears fruit this weekend when the Mountainfilm in Telluride On Tour in Houston locks into an engagement on February 22 & 23. This unique film festival focuses on documentaries that deal with social and environmental issues, as well as action sports shorts.
All films unwind at the Asia Society Texas Center (1370 Southmore Blvd.) with Friday night commencing at 7 pm., and Saturday starting at 6 pm.
This version of Mountainfilm is like greatest hits of the film festival that takes place in Telluride, Colorado each year over Memorial Weekend. Food and drinks are available each evening. Advance tickets are available through http://iceworthsustaining.org/.
Each of the night’s programs are guaranteed to raise consciousness of the fragile state of nature as well as the physical demands of outdoor sports. Of particular interest is the feature documentary Chasing Ice, part of Friday’s schedule.
Photographer James Balog organized an expedition to multiple regions to document changing landscapes due to glacial melting. Balog may be familiar to readers of National Geographic who featured his work in two issues from June 2007 and June 2010. Under the auspices of the organization Extreme Ice Survey Balog placed over two-dozen cameras over a period of years in the field.
Just the part where we see the construction of the camera’s housing is amazing enough; these high tech digital cameras they must be protected from temperatures well below zero as well as hurricane force winds. In a way it reminded me of the surreptitious cameras that were made for the documentary The Cove. But Balog’s equipment is in plain sight, it’s just that where he places them nobody lives, maybe a polar bear. Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Iceland and even the Himalayas and Rocky Mountains are just some of the areas where Balog’s camera’s are trained on glaciers. In one amazing sequence the cameras caught a section of a glacier falling apart, a process called calving. The glacier calving in this case lasted over one hour, the longest such event ever captured.
Chasing Ice is more than just before and after pictures of melted ice shelves. The film offers in a sense a mission, in this case the scientific expedition itself, as a metaphor for the continuing change the planet observes and the changes that strike the human body over time. Chasing Ice also has one Oscar nomination this year, for Best Song.
The complete schedule follows:
Friday, February 22 – 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm
YELP: WITH APOLOGIES TO ALLEN GINSBERG’S “HOWL”
UNDERCITY - Most people come to New York City to see the sights, and understandably they look up. Steve Duncan, a historian and self-described urban explorer, looks into the maze of tunnels that run beneath the city.
THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM
SONG OF THE SPINDLE
MY TOXIC REALITY - Hilton Kelly takes a stand in his community of Port Arthur, Texas, a place where eight petrochemical refining facilities lord over residential areas.
I BELIEVE I CAN FLY
BASEBALL IN A TIME OF CHOLERA
Saturday, February 23 - 6:00 pm to 11:00 pm
FRESH GUACAMOLE –Filmmaker PES returns to serve up another tasty meal with Fresh Guacamole, a stop motion short that’s also nominated for an Oscar this year.
ALL.I.CAN – JP AUCLAIR STREET SEGMENT
AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY - This film, directed by first-time filmmaker Alison Klayman, shows how dissident Chinese artist Ai Wei Wei is constantly watched, monitored and harassed by state security, even as he continues to create his own unique art.
RIGHT TO PLAY – This film originally part of the ESPN 30 For 30 series, features Olympic speed-skating gold medalist Norwegian Johann Olav Koss.
SWISS MACHINE – Portrait of Ueli Steck, a Swiss speed climber and alpinist.
– Michael Bergeron