MountainFilm on Tour at WaterColor Turns Ten

November 2, 2010 by Lynn Nesmith

Perfect attendance.  I can’t remember the last time I attained that lofty status.  Maybe a one-week stint of vacation bible school or my own birthday parties.

But it’s been ten years and I can honestly say I’ve never missed a night of MoutainFilm on Tour at WaterColor.  It might just be my all-time favorite weekend of the year.

Certainly, the best event that doesn’t involve swimming in the Gulf. 

Ten years ago SoWal was a different place. WaterColor was a couple of streets and maybe a dozen houses.  But there were a handful of fun and creative folks working for St. Joe who were determined to make the fledging resort feel like a real town.   Or maybe St. Joe employee Karen Terrell Doyle just wanted an excuse to visit Telluride, Colorado - the home of MountainFilm.

Through the efforts of St. Joe, WaterColor homeowners like Joan Childs and Jerry Zaret, Mary Piech and Shaunnah Young, MountainFilm came to the resort the first weekend of November in 2001.  Held in the WaterColor Marina Amphitheatre, the event showcases a varied assortment of shorts and documentary films from poignant to humorous to ever-so-slightly controversial. But that’s the joy of MountainFilm.

The inaugural weekend film festival also brought with it guest moderator Jim Pettegrew  and technical guru John Rosenberg, who liked the venue so much they not only returned the same time next year, but soon moved to SoWal permanently.

From the first year, the event has been different and memorable for so many different reasons.  A campfire for roasting marshmallows was a highlight of the MountainFilm on Tour from the beginning.  Although the bonfire is strictly monitored these days, the first year witnessed a fire of significantly larger dimensions.  Oh, the good old days. 

Just as the films have covered the gambit of outlooks and approaches, so has the weather.   It can be downright balmy or record-setting cold.  One year, there was a solar eclipse right on cue during intermission. Another year it was a dark moonless night with the Milky Way on full display.  Who do you call to arrange something like that? 

During intermission of the annual affair, a local photographer is featured with a slideshow on the big screen. This year’s featured artist is Brandan Babineaux.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary, this year’s festivities will include a wine tasting from 5 to 7pm on November 5-6, prior to the showing of the films at 7:15.  Celebrity Chef Burno Vrignon will pair a selection of cheeses and food with a mountain theme to include more than 100 wines. 

On Sunday November 7, the Seaside REP Theatre will host a special showing of films in their own theater, featuring John & Jim's MountainFilm favorites from the past decade. (Yes, the same John and Jim that moved to SoWal, after that first event.)  These selected shorts will not be shown during the Friday and Saturday night viewings.  Over the years, there were some real winners. For those of you without perfect attendance at MountainFilm on Tour in WaterColor, this Sunday night event shouldn’t be missed. 


Q&A with Jim Pettegrew

Can you tell us your favorite MountainFilm On Tour memory from the last ten years?
That's a hard one. Maybe it was the show the night of the full lunar eclipse, that happened during the show in 2003. A surreal orange, then red hue to the disappearing-then-reappearing moon, and a mass howling from the crowd that I led from the podium.

Do you have a favorite film from MountainFilm On Tour, and why?
That's also hard, but two come to mind. Or three. "Sacred Wave" is a good story, well told, a waterman & his family in Hawaii ... real human interest, killer surfing & boardsailing, great soundtrack, expert cinematography. "Shinsetsu" is perhaps the perfect ski film, 4 minutes of perfect powder bliss. "Turtle World" is a funny, animated short that carries a strong message we all need reminding. And, all of these & more will be screened at our special Sunday night retrospective show this year.

What does MountainFilm mean to you?
I'm so fortunate -- the festival, not just the tour stop at WaterColor, has been an unspeakable enrichment for half my life. It's brought me to places & people & discoveries that are irreplaceable for me. I'm very proud that the WaterColor event has always shown MountainFilm at its finest, reaching out across the country to entertain & educate, to challenge & inspire. For me, it's the most fun & most important annual event here at the beach.

Anything you'd like to pass on to the public they might not know?
Wear socks to MountainFilm on Tour at WaterColor -- on the cool nights, they keep you a lot more comfortable.



Q&A with John Rosenberg

Can you tell us your favorite MountainFilm On Tour memory from the last ten years?
I think it was two years ago when there was a pretty good rainstorm before we started showing films on Friday night.  It set us back about half an hour, but no one left.  It was very heartwarming that our friends are so devoted.

Do you have a favorite film from MountainFilm On Tour, and why?
One of my favorites is Mzima, about an African spring and it's hippos.  There were some folks disturbed by it, but I believe it one of the best films in our library.  Another is Columbia, which we'll show on Sunday.

What does MountainFilm mean to you?
Mountainfilm is a reunion of friends and my chance to give them one of the best shows on 30a.  It's fun being able to bring a bit of Telluride to the beach.

Anything you'd like to pass on to the public they might not know?
For our tenth year, we'll be adding a night of films at The Rep on Sunday.


Lynn Nesmith's picture

Lynn's career includes stints with Architecture Magazine and Southern Living. She's been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Better Homes & Gardens, Traditional Home, House Beautiful, Architectural Record and Coastal Living. Lynn lives in Seagrove and writes from a third-story tower with a glimpse of the Gulf of Mexico.

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