RIDGWAY – Two Ridgway High School seniors’ films created as part of Mountainfilm’s Making Movies That Matter educational program have been selected to be shown this weekend in Telluride at the 32nd annual Mountainfilm Festival.
Stormy Pyeatte and Nicole VerStrate, both students of Ridgway High School teacher Ryan Wilson, will have their two-minute films shown at the school program at the Palm Theater on May 28 at 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. As part of the educational program, which Started in 2008 with just 10 students, the Movies That Matter educational program has grown to over 300 students this year. Students participating in the program create their own two-minute movies using footage from the Mountainfilm archives. With visuals from previous films in hand, students then add sound, voiceover and content to the clip.
Pyeatte’s project is based on American Outrage by Beth and George Gage, a film centered on the central Nevada Shoshone tribe, who are fighting to stop gold mining on their land. VerStrate’s project is based on Schooling the World by Carol Black, which is about the world’s languages and cultures being lost to western education and globalization.
According to Mountainfilm Education Director Ellen Shelton, “The two films that were chosen just happened to be made in Ryan Wilson’s class in Ridgway. He has been using this approach for two years now and he is really good at it. His students turn out some of the most polished films that will look great on the big screen,” she said.
The goal of the year-round educational outreach program is to get festival films into middle and high school classrooms that will provoke conversations about issues that matter to that age group, and ultimately inspire students to create their own provocative films.
“The point is to get kids seeing films they wouldn’t necessarily see and get them talking about some real issues they are going to be facing as they grow up,” Shelton said. “The cool thing is that the kids have to think about the content and the movie they watched. You can watch a move without thinking but you can’t make a movie without thinking.”
Shelton said several Telluride High School classes participated in the program this year, as well as some Denver-area schools.
Along with Making Movies That Matter in the schools, Mountainfilm partners with the Telluride Academy to provide a four-day Movies That Matter camp during the actual festival, where youth can travel to the festival to watch films and meet filmmakers. “It’s a wonderful immersion into the festival for students,” Shelton said, adding that there are six students coming from Washington, D.C. to this year’s Movies That Matter camp.
For teachers, Mountainfilm, University Centers of the San Miguel and Mesa State College are offering a class called Teaching Movies that Matter this July as part of Telluride Summer College. The hands-on film editing workshop for teachers and in-formal educators who want to incorporate documentary film and digital video projects into their content areas is accredited by Mesa State College. Teachers can earn a graduate level credit as they learn to more fully integrate technology into their lesson plans. Participants will have access to footage donated by Mountainfilm on topics that focus on current events and environmental issues.
Teaching Movies that Matter will be held in the Ridgway High School Mac Lab, July 26-28, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Register by June 1 for a discount. Contact Robyn Wilson or Liz Cichella at UCSM at 970/369-5255, and consult the website ucsanmiguel.org.