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Move Over, Sundance 

Telluride MountainFilm showcases sophisticated action films

Over the past few decades, kayaking has evolved, with boats from the '80s seeming more like relics belonging in the Smithsonian than in the river; so why shouldn't it be expected that kayaking films also have matured into sophisticated and sleek art pieces as well?

"Cascada," one of the short films that is bundled as the MountainFilm Festival, answers that question with a confident hoo-yah!

Sure, technology has advanced, placing sharply focused cameras—and the viewer—in heart-stopping plunges and splashes, and bringing vibrant cinematography to these short adventure films, making previous generation action films seems as if they were produced by a hillybilly with a Super 8 camera.

But it is also the craft and artistic intelligence that also has impressively advanced, taking what was once extreme sport porn into an arena that confidently stands toe-to-toe with the best short documentary films out there.

Not only epically beautiful—a canvas of vibrant green vines and crystal-clear plummeting waterfalls—"Cascada" smartly lays down an eerie soundtrack, and a voiceover that narrates this kayaking journey with as much wry and wit as if Joseph Conrad had been writing copy for Patagonia ads.

Another gem in the MountainFilm Festival is "Slomo," a character study about a 69-year old Pacific Beach roller blader who many assume is a gleeful homeless man, but in actuality is a blissful retired surgeon. As strong as—if not better—than "Cave Digger" and "The Lady in Number 6," two of the short documentaries nominated for Academy Awards this year (and currently showing at Tin Pan Theater, Thur.-Sat. 2:30 pm, Sun. 1 pm), "Slomo" takes on the same themes as those films: aging and finding happiness. Lighthearted yet transcendently brilliant, "Slomo" explores both the spiritual and neurological musings about what it means to pursue physical activity. The result is a charming 16-minute film that is a funny and smart essay that anyone who makes a sport a lifestyle—whether it is yoga or surfing—will find identifies at least some of the outlines of their soul.

Although lesser known and far more narrow in its film selections and genres than Sundance—which also in recent years has been bundling its short narrative films and screening them around the country—Telluride has emerged as one of the strongest and most enjoyable film festivals in the country—and one that thankfully ships it's films to you so you don't need to travel to a remote mountain town to enjoy some of the finest short films being produced.

Showing at Tower Theatre

Fri. - Sat. 7 pm

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