Virtual version of Mountainfilm on Tour comes to Savannah with local features

Organizers say they’ve striven to make Savannah’s 2021 event a high point of the film-festival series

click to enlarge A scene from 'Unfenced', a documentary featured in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival. - COURTESY OF MOUNTAINFILM ON TOUR - SAVANNAH
Courtesy of Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah
A scene from 'Unfenced', a documentary featured in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival.
Over the last 12 years, Mountainfilm has steadily ascended to become one of Savannah’s most popular film festivals, showcasing stories about adventure and outdoors, environmental protection, culture and diversity, and social-justice issues.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Colorado-based touring film festival is happening entirely virtually this year. This means the annual local Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah event will also be virtual.

However, organizers say they’ve striven to make Savannah’s 2021 event a high point of the film-festival series. This year’s attractions include a virtual screening of the feature Public Trust, multiple documentary shorts, a special family program, a Q&A with Savannah leaders, and more. The events begin on Friday, Jan. 22 at noon and continue through noon on Monday, Jan. 25.

click to enlarge Lofty sports have a starring role in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival. - COURTESY OF MOUNTAINFILM ON TOUR - SAVANNAH
Courtesy of Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah
Lofty sports have a starring role in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival.
“We welcome everyone to enjoy a curated selection of incredible films that inspire all of us to create a better world,” said Leslie Carey, director of Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah. “The 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah virtual playlist offers exactly what we need to get through this challenging time: hope, inspiration, purpose, laughter, and a sense of community.”

This year’s main feature documentary is Public Trust, directed by David Garrett Byars and produced by Jeremy Hunter Rubingh. The film explores public lands in the United States, breaking down the complex topic with a long history into something compelling, easy to understand, and visually stunning.

Public Trust explains that U.S. public lands are an idiosyncratic American experiment that welcome all to its 640 million acres. However, U.S. public lands are under threat, with bills written every year to sell the lands off.

“We’ve chosen to preserve and protect these lands, and other places don’t do that,” Carey said. “We’re at this critical point now where we really have to fight to save them from politicians and oil and gas interests. We have these same issues all around the country.”

The film follows acclaimed outdoors journalist Hal Herring, who has covered the issue for 20 years and says public lands are truly special.

“It’s one of the last things that we share in common amongst all of us,” Herring said.

Herring says Public Trust encourages people to get outdoors and leaves viewers with “a new kind of patriotism.” He says the public-lands system is something to be proud of.

“I hope that we can start appreciating the visions of our forefathers, you know? And understanding what it is that we have and enjoying it more,” Herring said, while encouraging Savannah residents to visit regional wildlife refuges. “If you live in Georgia, go to the Okefenokee.”

click to enlarge A scene from 'Slack Sisters', a documentary featured in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival. - COURTESY OF MOUNTAINFILM ON TOUR - SAVANNAH
Courtesy of Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah
A scene from 'Slack Sisters', a documentary featured in the 2021 Mountainfilm on Tour - Savannah film festival.
Overall, Herring says Public Trust is a must-see that leaves the audience feeling ready to explore and take pride in the pristine lands in our own backyards.

“I just think the movie kind of brings home what we have, and the fact that if you’re not willing to stand up and speak for it and fight for it, you probably won’t be able to keep something this valuable,” Herring said.

A Q&A session with Savannah-area environmental experts follows the feature film screening. The discussion will include issues impacting Georgia’s beaches, barrier islands, and swamps, with speakers including Tybee Island Marine Science Foundation President Cathy Sakas, Ogeechee Riverkeeper Executive Director Damon Mullis, and Director of the Georgia Office of the Southern Environmental Law Center Gil Rogers.

There will also be an online auction benefiting Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah’s “Movies that Matter” education program. Each year, students from local schools get to screen selected Mountainfilm documentaries at Savannah’s Trustees Theater. Carey says that this year, “Movies that Matter” is also going virtual.

Carey says an estimated 8,000 local students will participate, breaking an all-time record. She says she’s hopeful that with the virtual format, more people than ever will be reached by Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah.

“Thanks to Mountainfilm’s vision and leadership, our 2021 lineup covers a broad range of topics, from polar exploration, ultra-running and slacklining to black bears, honeybees and chess,” said Carey. “We can’t wait to share this thoughtful selection of films with audiences across the Savannah area and beyond.”

Mountainfilm on Tour − Savannah is happening virtually during Jan. 22-25. Tickets for the Public Trust and Adventure Shorts program are $20 per person and $35 per family. Tickets for the Family Program are $10 per person and $15 per family. Visit mountainfilmsav.org for more details.

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