Mountainfilm Announces 2021 Award Winners

Posted by Larry Gleeson


“It felt like a sacred space,” said Festival Director Suzan Beraza. “The numbers were different from what we’re used to, but there was an intimacy and the ability to have real, in-depth conversations. It was a gift.”


Suzan Beraza, Festival Director

The number of in-person attendees may have shifted due to the pandemic, but the quality of programming remained high. And, just like in years past, certain features and short films stood out — pushing us out of our comfort zone, inspiring action, and shifting our worldview. To honor these moments, a handful of films and filmmakers were recognized with a cash award.

“A big part of Mountainfilm’s mission is filmmaker support,” said Beraza. “The comment that we got from the awards juries is that the caliber of films was extremely high and they had a difficult deliberation process.”


2021 Festival Awards by R. Nelson Parrish Photo: Jonas Jungblut

These are the Mountainfilm 2021 award winners:


 The winner of this juried award is Jacinta, a film that introduces us to a multi-generational family fighting the pattern of addiction and the cycle of prison, rehab, relapse and perpetual disappointment. Over three-and-a-half years, filmmaker Jessica Earnshaw follows a loving family faced with a seemingly endless battle against codependency and trauma.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Since you arrived, my heart stopped belonging to me is the winner of this juried award that recognizes exceptional short filmmaking. Director Erin Semine Kökdil zooms in on a group of Central American mothers desperately searching the streets of Mexico for their missing migrant children.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Each year, an adventure film that embodies the spirit of Charlie Fowler, a world-class climber and Telluride crag pioneer, is recognized. This year, Tasha Van Zandt’s After Antarctica was the well-deserving recipient. The film tells the story of Will Steger, who traversed Antarctica in 1989 to defend and protect Antarctica from exploitation. Now, almost 30 years later, we watch as Steger sets out on a solo expedition to the Arctic Circle at age 75.
Funded by the Fowler family


The Moving Mountains award honors a film that’s dedicated to social justice and impact — supporting both the filmmaker and the film’s associated nonprofit. This year’s recipients are Raj Patel and Zak Piper, directors of The Ants & The Grasshopper, and the farmer-led nonprofit Soils, Food and Healthy Communities. The feature film follows Anita Chitaya from Malawi as she and her mentor, Esther Lupafya, travel through the U.S. in an effort to convince Americans that climate change is real.
Funded in part by Tully and Elise Friedman


Director Whitney Skauge is the winner of this award that’s presented to an outstanding woman in the film industry. Skauge’s film, The Beauty President pays homage to a queer drag queen named Joan Jett Blakk who ran a campaign as a write-in candidate in the 1992 U.S. presidential election. In the film, we meet the male activist behind the persona, Terence Alan Smith, as he reflects on his audacious bid to draw attention to LGBTQ+ rights and the AIDS crisis.
Funded by Riccarda de Eccher and Bill Goldston.



A Vimeo curation team chose On Falling as their 2021 outstanding short film. In the short, Director Josephine Anderson — who is too afraid to ride a mountain bike — follows three female pro mountain bikers to explore the topics of toughness, vulnerability and accomplishment.
Funded by Vimeo


These films will all be available on Mountainfilm Online. Passes to the online festival are also still available here. Following Mountainfilm Online, May 31–June 6, the remaining two awards: Audience Choice and Student Choice will be announced.


Let’s Create A Better World!

Now, more than ever, we need your support. It is only through generous contributions that we can continue our mission to use the power of film, art, and ideas to inspire audiences to create a better world.

Donations will go a long way to ensure that Mountainfilm not only endures, but comes back in full force in 2022. Every little bit helps, become a donor today!


*If you didn’t catch all of the films on your list at Mountainfilm in Telluride — or you prefer the comfort of your own couch and snack set up – Mountainfilm Online has your back. Online festival passes are still available here. Get yours today!

To help you have the best experience possible check out this guide: How to Mountainfilm Online. You’ll be glad you did!

I’ll be posting regularly here as well as on my social media accounts with Facebook and twitter (@hollywoodglee). Stay tuned….

I look forward to seeing you at the movies!

Larry Gleeson at the 2019 Telluride Film Festival build-out. Gleeson was part of the Telluride Film Festival Vespucci Production Team.

One thought on “Mountainfilm Announces 2021 Award Winners”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.