Documentary film festival urges students to get outside


Aiden Armstrong

UVM Outdoor Programs hosted Mountainfilm on Tour in the Grand Maple Ballroom Nov. 4. The event helped promote many of UVM’s outdoor-oriented clubs and spread awareness about the environment.

Film transported examples of resilient human spirit to the Davis Center to show student snowboarders, change-makers and interested community members that the outdoors belong to everyone. 

UVM Outing Club hosted Mountainfilm on Tour in the Grand Maple Ballroom Nov. 4, with tickets sold at $15 each for the general public and $12 for students. The show began at 7 p.m. and featured eight documentary films about environmental adventure and social justice, each spanning anywhere from three to 30 minutes long.

Mountainfilm is a documentary film festival held in Telluride, Colo. every Memorial Day weekend. Communities across the globe can pay to host films from a given year’s festival any time between August and April, according to the Mountainfilm website.

The films were shown in succession, amounting to a two-hour long showcase of outdoor experiences with a 15-minute intermission halfway through the program. 

The films ranged from “Bacon n’ Laces,” which follows a blind, single father who manages a diner in New York City and has a passion for sneakers, to “Breaking Trail,” which documents the first woman and LGBTQ+ person of color to embark on Wisconsin’s 1,200-mile long Ice Age Trail.

“Trustfall” showcases the partnership of Espen Fadnes and Amber Forte, a wingsuit-flying couple in Norway. First-year Keira Zayas said she was shocked by the athletes’ calmness before jumping off a mountain. 

“It was the fact that they were able to get up in the morning like it was every other day, hike up a mountain, and free-fall off,” Zayas said. “I’d be freaking out like, ‘oh my god, the ground is getting closer,’ but they were just twirling in the air.”

First-year Marielle Horstmann said “Trustfall” was one of her favorite films shown at the festival. 

“It was cool that they were in a relationship but also jumping off cliffs together,” Horstmann said. “I haven’t seen anything like that before. It made me want to BASE jump.”

Sophomore Hans Potter, treasurer of the Outing Club, discussed how Mountainfilm can inspire students to connect with their environment. 

“These films show a lot of diverse perspectives—from those with disabilities to people from different cultures and places—all in the outdoors,” Potter said. “One of the most important things for the Outing Club is showing that anyone can go outdoors, no matter their year, their age or their ability.”

The money from ticket sales for the annual event goes toward funding for UVM’s Outdoor Programs so more students have access to outdoor experiences, Potter said. 

“We try our best to get everyone outdoors, but we are limited by the amount of trips we can put out just based on how many vans we can get and how much money the club has,” he said. “Mountainfilm is one of the Outing Club’s largest fundraisers.”

Those funds help get club members outdoors, something people benefit from for different reasons, Potter said.

“Personally, I find peace in the outdoors,” he said. “But other people might love the thrill of skiing, or they love climbing or they get relaxation. It’s really up to each individual person.”

UVM’s outdoor and environmental organizations, like Femmes in Forestry and Eco-Reps, as well as nonprofits such as the Intervale Center, alongside local businesses, including Patagonia and Outdoor Gear Exchange, all tabled before the show and during the intermission. 

Junior Aly Dillon, an officer of Femmes in Forestry, which hosts walks in the woods for femme and non-binary students, expressed her gratitude to be able to use the Mountainfilm event to spread the word about the newfound club.

It’s important to get the word out that there’s a community and safe space for femme and non-binary individuals, Dillon said.

Eco-Rep Alissa Frame, a junior, said the event was helpful in spreading the word about sustainable transportation options for the upcoming break.

“It’s helpful for students to know how to get around Burlington in general, and it’s a timely event for planning for Thanksgiving break,” she said. “We’re trying to promote carpooling.” 

Daylight hours are dwindling, temperatures are expected to dip and the Green Mountain State is gearing up to go outside this winter. Mountainfilm on Tour proves that everyone has access to outdoor adventure—just open the door, no expertise necessary.