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Held every Memorial Day weekend since 1979, Mountainfilm is a documentary film festival that showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, climbing, political and social justice issues in Telluride, Colorado. In addition to documentaries, the festival also brings together world-class athletes, change makers and artists via interactive discussions, free community events, a gallery walk, an all-day symposium, outdoor programming and presentations. Mountainfilm aims to educate, inspire and motivate audiences.

In 2000, Mountainfilm started touring its films and speakers internationally with Mountainfilm on Tour. Mountainfilm has since added Mountainfilm for Students, an educational component for schools across the country with free screenings of festival films that are supported by customized educational materials. Mountainfilm also funds Mountainfilm Commitment Grants, annual grants for filmmakers, photographers, artists and adventurers whose projects align with the organization’s mission to use the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.

The History of Mountainfilm

Mountainfilm began in 1979 when Telluride was completing its transition from a hard-rock gold and silver mining community to a destination resort and ski town. Lito Tejada-Flores, after screening his adventure and mountaineering film Fitzroy at the Trento festival in Italy, and Bill Kees, a local climber and avid outdoorsman, inaugurated the event. Over three nights, at the historic Sheridan Opera House, they screened a dozen films about mountain sports, mountain cultures and mountain issues. During the daytime, audience members took to the mountains for adventure themselves.

The next year the festival was passed on to Scott Brown and Chip Kamin as co-chairmen who ran and funded the festival until 2000. In 1980, Jeff Lowe and Family were the headliners andBill Kees, Lito Tejada-Flores became retired directors and supporters. The Board of Directors was expanded over the years to include Sue Cobb, Royal Robbins, Henry Barber, Mike Kennedy, Sir Edmund Hilary, Bob Craig, David Brower, David Brashears.

The first festivals attracted leading names in mountaineering and exploration: Royal Robbins, Yvon Chouinard, David Breashears and others. With their help, the event became a tradition for a circle of pioneers in diverse fields — from athletes and environmentalists to scientists and poets. Mountains soon became a metaphorical theme, and the festival expanded in size and recognition, its programming stretching into contemporary issues. The festival’s tagline is "celebrating indomitable spirit."


Mountainfilm has hosted such speakers as Bill McKibben, Chris Sharma, Wade Davis, Sandra Steingraber, Sir Edmund Hillary, Richard Holbrooke, Dianne Feinstein, Galen Rowell, George Schaller, Phil Borges, Frans Lanting, Lynn Hill, David Brower, Pete Athans, Timmy O'Neill, Subhankar Banerjee, David Breashears, Norman Vaughan, Martin Litton, James Balog, Maurice Herzog, Gretel Ehrlich, Timothy Treadwell, David James Duncan, Julia Butterfly Hill, John Grunsfeld, Angela Fisher, Rick Ridgeway and Carl Pope.

Mountainfilm on Tour

In 2000, Mountainfilm introduced Mountainfilm on Tour, which presents over 150 shows per year worldwide. More than 65,000 people attend across 6 continents. The Tour continues to expand adding a national tour of Australia and New Zealand for 2017 (


Founders include Royal Robbins, Lito Tejada-Flores, then president of American Alpine Club, Bob Craig and Telluride local Bill Kees, along with help from former Climbing magazine owner/publisher Michael Kennedy and Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.

Mission statement

Mountainfilm uses the power of film, art and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.


Mountainfilm’s motto is "Celebrating Indomitable Spirit."

Mountainfilm Vision

Mountainfilm is a dynamic organization and festival of films, people, stories, and ideas that celebrates indomitable spirit, educates and inspires audiences, and motivates individuals and communities to advance solutions for a livable world.

Mountainfilm Values

Embracing adventure

Preserving environments

Connecting cultures

Building community

Inspiring activism

Fostering storytellers

Enlightening audiences

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