This image from one of the 2018 Telluride Mountainfilm festival short films shows a woman riding a mountain bike. A condensed version of the film festival will be shown in Homer at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at Homer Mariner Theatre at Homer High School. (Photo courtesy Telluride Mountainfilm)

This image from one of the 2018 Telluride Mountainfilm festival short films shows a woman riding a mountain bike. A condensed version of the film festival will be shown in Homer at 7 p.m. this Friday and Saturday at Homer Mariner Theatre at Homer High School. (Photo courtesy Telluride Mountainfilm)

Telluride Mountainfilm festival comes on tour to Homer

The festival will also come to Soldotna next week.

Following a long tradition of celebrating the outdoors and creativity, a select number of short films from the Telluride Mountainfilm festival are once again headed to Homer for a two-day showing this weekend.

The festival based in the Lower 48 allows selections of its films to “go on tour” around the rest of the U.S., and Homer has been a participating location for around 20 years, according to local organizer Mike Illg, recreation manager for the City of Homer Community Recreation department.

Held every Memorial Day weekend in Telluride, Colorado, the original festival lasts almost a whole week and features more than 100 short films. The Homer version will feature two days of films this Friday and Saturday at the Homer Mariner Theatre. The films range from less than five minutes to a little over 10, and cover a wide variety of topics. Everything from women working in wildland firefighting and extreme winter bike riding to the story of a pastor who runs the slopes of the Faroe Islands is depicted in the films.

Friday’s show even includes a four-minute feature titled “All In: Alaska Heli Skiing” with a description that reads, “Tune in for a tutorial on how to absolutely shred Alaskan spines.”

While Telluride is largely about featuring stories of outdoor adventure, it’s also about sharing stories of people and the creative things they’re doing, Illg said. He said it’s a great opportunity for people from small-town Alaska to get a look at what people are doing not only in the Lower 48, but around the world.

“I think a lot of the films are a good reflection of the amazing things that are happening in the world that we probably don’t get to see all the time,” Illg said.

There are amazing things happening right here in the Homer community, too, Illg said, but it’s also good to see what else is out there — especially for young people. That’s why there is a special shorter showing of the two-day film festival at Homer High School, he said.

Next year, Illg said he hopes to expand this opportunity to elementary school students.

“If we can show our students … some new perspectives, new ideas … it could spark an interest that could change their lives,” he said.

The Telluride festival sends its own presenters on tour to introduce each film in the communities that show them. Illg said he also asks people with the main festival to pick the selection of films to be shown in Homer. He figures they know what’s good, and putting it in their hands has worked out well so far.

Other Alaska locations where Telluride sends its films on tour include Girdwood, Anchorage, Haines and, for the first time, Illg said, Soldotna. The mini festival tours stretch from Massachusetts to Georgia, from New Mexico to Florida. There are even several showings scheduled in Australia, according to the Telluride Mountainfilm website.

Another part of the weekend is a fundraiser for a local outdoor adventure outfit, Homer Wilderness Leaders (HOWL). Attendees can head to the Saturday show early at 6 p.m. for the HOWL Chili and Chowder Fundraiser. Illg said a fundraiser for HOWL has been included in the film festival for about four years and is a good way to highlight a local group doing things to encourage outdoor adventuring and staying active.

Illg encourages people who haven’t been to the festival before to give it a try and keep an open mind.

“A lot of folks wonder, ‘which night should I go?’” he said. “… The best solution to that is to go to both.”

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