Mountainfilm, a non-profit organization that hosts documentary film festivals, was founded in 1979 in Telluride, Colorado. Mountainfilm hosts a festival every Memorial Day where they screen over a hundred films.
They then license several of the films to take on tour to over 200 locations around the world. Savannah has participated in the tour for twelve years now.
"It started with a bunch of rock climbers filming themselves and has evolved over the years to a festival that includes films about conservation, environmental protection, social justice issues," said Leslie Carey, director at Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah.
"And we still have the same fun, adrenaline shorts of mountain biking and skiing and all that fun stuff."
The Savannah branch of Mountainfilm on Tour is hosting a virtual screening of their 7th Annual Honoring Our Veterans and First Responders event.
"We started doing a Veteran’s Day screening because a lot of the films that Mountainfilm screens at their festival were veteran related, or focused on veteran related issues," explained Carey. "We thought it was a natural fit to bring those films to Savannah and at the same time, honor our local veterans."
This year’s screening includes four inspiring documentaries that focus on veterans and their creative and adventurous outlets. The first film is "Carving Joy," about a Vietnam vet, Scott Harrison, who took up carving animals to help manage his PTSD. Harrison carved all of the animals for a beautiful carousel for his community, who, in turn, raised $600,000 to build a facility to house it.
"It’s really a testament to the sacrifices that veterans make and the choices that they have coming home — those that are able to find a way to use maybe some pain and suffering for good and help other people," said Carey.
The next film is "The Long River Home" about Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell, who lost his eyesight twenty years ago. Bedwell kayaked blind down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with the help of two other veterans, with one man calling out commands from ahead while the other assisted from the treeline.
"In the film, they talk a lot about what the river can teach you and how it mimics war and life, and how you learn to adapt and persevere," explained Carey.
"It’s a beautiful, quintessential Mountain film."
"The Crown" is a short film about Will Robinson, the first African-American to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking: the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.
"His film is about using the power of nature to heal," said Carey. "Also, he is very vocal about trying to get more African-Americans out on the trail and try to create some more diversity among hikers."
The final selection is "Eddy’s World" about World War II veteran and famous toy designer, Eddy Goldfarb. Goldfarb is best known for creating the wind-up chattering teeth toy.
"He’s 98 now and still designing toys, and still gets up every morning with this wonderful outlook and optimism," said Carey.
All of the films are good for the whole family and will be available on-demand from noon on Nov. 12 until noon on Nov. 14, so that audiences can watch them at their leisure.
Even though the pandemic continues, forcing the screening to be virtual, Mountainfilm on Tour hope that viewers will find something in the documentaries to inspire and uplift them.
"We were thinking at the beginning of the pandemic...the stories I was hearing on the news about the heroes of all this—the frontline workers, the first responders, and even the neighbors helping neighbors—all of those stories are sort of Mountain Film stories," explained Carey.
"That’s what we do, is use film to inspire people to build a better world."