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Film Festival Brings Adventure To The Wasatch

Erik Neumann
Wasatch Mountain Film Festival co-founder Stuart Derman.

Monday marked the start of the third annual Wasatch Mountain Film Festival. The festival is bringing adventure and outdoor films to locations around Salt Lake City.

Several years ago Stuart Derman and Shane Baldwin were getting their degrees in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Department at the University of Utah.

"We were thinking how can we use our degree to help better the community?" Derman wondered.  

After watching lots of mountain film festivals come through Salt Lake they wondered why there wasn’t one locally, given what a big outdoor destination Utah is. So they started their own.

"The goal really is to be inspiring. All the films we screen we hope will inspire people in whatever facet of life," Derman says. 

Films include “3,000 Cups of Tea”, about Greg Mortenson, a controversial humanitarian in the Middle East and “Canyon Song”, about the balance between traditional and modern elements of Navajo life.

The film “When We Were Knights” follows two extreme athletes, and friends of director Anson Fogel, who use wingsuits to fly off mountains before parachuting to the ground. The film centers around the death of one of the partners and the subsequent conversation about why they do it.

Fogel is an established filmmaker, but he says the importance of these festivals is the community they bring together around the films.

"Whether it’s Sundance or Banff or the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival, which is obviously much smaller in scale, there’s just no replacement for going and watching films and telling stories to your peers," Fogel says. 

Compared to other more established mountain film festivals, co-founder Stuart Derman describes his as a grassroots effort of the local outdoor community.

"Really everyone in the outdoor community has really pitched in and really contributed a lot to this event," Derman says. 

The Wasatch Mountain Film Festival runs through Saturday.

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