ANYONE WHO ENJOYS seeing people persevere in the face of adversity will appreciate the films available at the event. Each film features military veterans who have turned to positive activities and hobbies in order to combat the effects that have taken a hold on them in the aftermath of their service.
The Mountainfilm festival was brought to Savannah in 2009 from Telluride, Colorado, where the festival had taken place several years prior. Founder Zelda Tenenbaum saw an opportunity to bring the festival to Savannah and, due to the high number of veteran-related stories showcased at the festival in years past, they decided to dedicate a special event specifically for veteran soldiers.
“Mountainfilm is a lot about celebrating indomitable spirit, celebrating heroes, and unlikely heroes,” said the film’s director, Leslie Carey. “Every year at Mountainfilm there’s always great films focused on veteran issues, so it seemed like a natural addition to add that program to our events.”
This year the festival will allow ticket holders to view each film virtually online. Once the tickets are purchased, viewers will have 48 hours to view the films on display at the festival. The films being shown are “Carving Joy,” “Eddy’s World,” “The Long River Home” and “The Crown.”
“Carving Joy,” is a film about a Vietnam War veteran named Scott Harrison who took up carving unique animals (ones that would not normally appear on a carousel) and placing them on his Carousel of Happiness as a way to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Carey explained that the idea of creating these unique carvings came to Harrison in his sleep.
“He had a dream when he was in Vietnam about a little figurine in a music box his sister had given him,” Carey said. “When he got back he wanted to get away from the world, he was on a boat and had this epiphany when he saw a whale that was out in the ocean that he didn’t want to hide anymore, so he started carving wooden animals. This developed into this idea for a carousel in his town in Colorado. The community raised over $600,000 to house the carousel. That’s a great example of how when you’re hiding from—not just veterans but a lot of us in life –something, you can either hide from it or create something beautiful.”
“The Long River Home,” a film that focuses on three men, two combat veterans and a blind Navy veteran, is another story on how veterans who have been affected by the war can be helped by the compassion of others. In this film, the two combat veterans, one who suffers from PTSD and one who is an amputee, help the Navy veteran navigate through the rough rapids of the Colorado River, as they paddle downstream together on kayaks.
While “The Long River Home” shows us what we can accomplish together out in the world, “The Crown” focuses on a veteran’s journey to become the first African-American man to complete the Triple Crown of Hiking: The Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail and The Continental Divide Trail, all while spreading good vibes in the process.
The last film, “Eddy’s World,” digs deep into the life of a World War II veteran, Eddy Goldfarb, who designs toys as a therapeutic way of taking his mind off of the harsh realities of war. A few of the notable inventions you may have seen from Goldfarb include the classic marble and sticks game Ker-Plunk! and the famous wind-up chattering teeth gag toy.
“What we try to do at Mountainfilm is to inspire people to not only get out and go on adventures but use what they have at their disposal to make the world better, somehow,” Carey said.