Mancos Valley River Film Festival Features Films on Canyons, Colorado River, & Conservation

Tickets go on Sale early next week!

Thanks to the Cortez Journal for featuring MVRFF last week on their front page!

Outdoor adventure films are returning to Mancos this fall, for the third annual Mancos Valley River Film Festival.

The two-day event is hosted by Mancos Valley Resources, with proceeds going toward MVR and the Mancos Conservation District, which will use the funds for a cleanup of the Mancos River and to build a science station on the Mancos River at the Mancos Middle School.

“We showcase both national and local films, and offer a mix of exciting, action-packed stories with conservation-focused films,” said MVR board vice president Lizzy Scully in a statement. “I’m more excited about this year’s roster than I’ve ever been.”

The festival will happen Sept. 27-28. Alpacka Raft, Four Corners Guides, and Osprey Packs are other sponsors.

The event was started in 2017 as a fundraiser to support workers who lost their jobs after the Western Excelsior Corp. mill burned down. The first year highlighted short documentaries about pack rafting and other river sports, and then expanded last year to feature films about “bikes and boats.”

This year, the festival’s main features will revolve around the water.

Friday night, the festival will take over the Mancos Brewing Co. The films showcased will include a short piece on the Mancos River, along with “Glen Canyon Rediscovered” and “The Important Places.” The Glen Canyon film traces a sea kayaking journey to the Utah canyon, while “The Important Places” focuses on a 28-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon that the filmmaker took with his father.

The second night will see a change of venue, as the festival moves to the Mancos Opera House. The Mancos River film will be shown again, along with a short on author and activist Katie Lee and “The Weight of Water,” a documentary detailing the voyage of Erik Weihenmayer, a blind man who kayaks the Grand Canyon.

A live auction will also happen on Saturday night. After the films, attendees are also invited to head over to Fenceline Cidery for live music until 11 p.m.

Scully said she hopes to continue the momentum from previous festivals, which drew about 500 people and raised just under $20,000.

“It’s going to be a fantastic event this year,” she said.

Tickets are $10 per night or $20 for both nights in advance, and $15 per night at the door. The festival will begin at 6 p.m. Friday and at 7 p.m. Saturday.

For more information, visit the Mancos Valley River Film Festival website.

Grand Canyon

Mancos River Film Fest to Feature Grand Canyon, Desert, Colorado River Theme

In celebration of the 150-Year Anniversary of John Wesley Powell’s Expedition, we’re featuring numerous films about the Colorado-River & the Grand Canyon for the 3rd Annual MVRFF

Mancos Valley Resources in conjunction with Founding Sponsor Alpacka Raft and Class V/IV sponsors Four Corners Guides, Roam Industry and Osprey Packs will hold the 3rd annual Mancos Valley River Film Festival on September 27 and 28 in Mancos.

The event proceeds will benefit Mancos Valley Resources and the Mancos Conservation District, which will utilize the funds for clean-up of the Mancos River as well as build a science station at the Mancos Middle School. Other top sponsors of the event include Four Corners Guides, Roam Industry and Osprey Packs.

“This is one of Mancos’ biggest and most exciting community-building and fundraising events,” explained lead organizer and MVR Board Vice President, Lizzy Scully. “We showcase both national and local films, and offer a mix of exciting, action-packed stories with conservation-focused films. I’m more excited about this year’s roster than I’ve ever been. I really look forward to our Saturday night feature, The Weight of Water, about two blind kayakers who run the Grand Canyon. It’s an inspirational story, and the footage is stunning.”

Ancient Native American ruins in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Steve Fassbinder.
Ancient Native American ruins in the Grand Canyon. Photo by Steve Fassbinder.

The event will begin at the Mancos Brewery on Friday at 6 p.m.  with a short film on the Mancos River followed by Taylor Graham’s film Glen Canyon Rediscovered which chronicles an epic sea-kayak-based journey to Glen Canyon and showcases the hidden treasures emerging from Lake Powell due to climate change. The evening will end with The Important Places, a film by Forest Woodward, which shows the filmmaker’s 28-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon with his father.

On Saturday, the venue will change to the Mancos Opera House starting at 7 p.m.  The Mancos River short and a short on author and activist Katie Lee will be followed by a live auction. The second half will show The Weight of Water, an amazing and inspirational journey of Erik Weihenmayer, a blind man who solo kayaks the length of the Grand Canyon. After the event, attendees are invited to listen to live music at Outlier Cellars/ Fenceline Cidery until 11 p.m.

Tickets are $20 for both nights in advance and $15 per night at the door.  On Saturday night, film attendees will receive a Kleen Kanteen stainless steel cup to be used at the Opera House where beer, cider and wine will be available.

“Five hundred people showed up, over three nights of the first two festivals we held in 2017 and 2018, and we raised just shy of $20,000,” added Scully. “It’s going to be a fantastic event this year. I hope we can keep up the momentum!”

Grand Canyon 📸: Caj Koskinen

River Film Fest to Focus on Hope, Inspiration, Empowerment, Featuring the “Weight of Water”

The Weight of Water, a film about blind kayakers on the Grand Canyon

An appropriate title for one of the headlining films for this year’s Mancos Valley River Film Fest, follow Erik Weihenmayer in “The Weight of Water.” Erik is totally blind and is solo kayaking the length of the Grand Canyon. In Lava Falls, a large dangerous rapid, he discovers that despite what people might say, barriers can be real and they hurt .. a lot.

This year’s festival films will have a general theme of positivity and empowerment. Let’s forget about the polarization of our country and the negativity that’s flying around and come together for some good, clean fun. We’ll be featuring some fantastic films at the Mancos Brewing Company (Saturday) and the Mancos Opera House (Sunday), including the Weight of Water. Check out the trailer, and stay tuned as we’ll be sharing more of the films soon!

More Grand Canyon Shots!

Timmy O'Neill scouting the way in Fern Canyon Grand Canyon NP
Timmy O’Neill scouting the way in Fern Canyon Grand Canyon National Park. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
Rebecca Hayden hiking in the LCR, by Steve Fassbinder.
Rebecca Hayden hiking into a side canyon of the Grand. 📸: Steve Fassbinder. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
Todd Tumolo packrafting on a self-supported trip to the Grand Canyon, 2010. 📸: Thor Tingey
Todd Tumolo packrafting on a self-supported trip to the Grand Canyon, 2010. 📸: Thor Tingey
Benton Phillips enjoying a shower in a side canyon of the Grand. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
Benton Phillips enjoying a shower in a side canyon of the Grand. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
Canyoneering in the Grand. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
Canyoneering in the Grand. 📸: Steve Fassbinder
📸: Thor Tingey
📸: Thor Tingey
📸: Steve Fassbinder
📸: Steve Fassbinder

Thanks to Thor Tingey, Caj Koskinen, & Steve Fassbinder for sharing their Grand Canyon photos in this gallery. All three men done self-supported packrafting trips on the Grand one or more times, and Steve has embarked on various canyoneering adventures into the Grand.

The Cortez Journal Features MVRFF — Event Raises $11K for Charity, 300 Attend Two Nights

The second annual Mancos Valley River Film Festival drew a crowd by spotlighting adventurers from around the globe and from Montezuma County’s backyard.

Last year, Mancos Valley Resources and Alpacka Raft started the event to highlight short documentaries about pack rafting and other river sports, while raising money for people affected by the Western Excelsior plant fire. This year, organizers expanded it to two nights focused on “bikes and boats” and pledged to give the proceeds to MVR and the Mancos Trails Group. The festival lineup included 12 short films including “Our Wild,” a fly-fishing documentary by Durango filmmaker Ben Kraushaar.

Read the full article by clicking here.

Mancos Valley River Film Fest Film Lineup

Buy Your Tickets Today!

Alpacka Raft Wright Award Submission – 1:30 – Katie Schuler (Coral & Oak)
The Land We Live In – 5:32 – Jayme Dittmar
From the Doorstep – 4:00 – Pursuit Films
Our Wild – 4:21 – Benjamin Kraushaar
Chicken Raper – 7:19 – Rig to Flip
Packrafters of Telemark – 1:25 – Bjorn Moen & Frederik Feyling
Skeptical – 2:29 – Coastal Crew
Little White From the Sky (Heli Aerial) – 4:03 – RiverRoots
100 Miles – 10:01 – Fly Out Media


The Wild President – 6:27 – American Rivers
Blue Heart – 43:37 – Patagonia
Show Up Blow Up Meghalaya – 2:39 – Luc Mehl

2nd Annual Mancos Valley River Film Fest to Feature “100 Miles,” an Alaska-Based Fly Fishing & Packrafting Film by Fly Out Media

Cory Luoma and Katie Edmiston of Fly Our Media created their first film in 2011, and have made over a dozen conservation, web series, and promotional videos and films since.

“That’s 7 or 8 years of schlepping cameras around the bush,” Luoma says. And he wouldn’t have it any other way. “I’m passionate about nature and the outdoors. Filmmaking and photography is an outlet for me to express that love and world view for preserving wild places. The passion stems in creating films that inspire and invoke emotion.”

Alpacka Raft partnered with Fly Out in 2017 to make the film, “100 Miles,” to be featured during the first half of the Mancos Valley River Film Festivalthis Saturday, June 30th. The film, says Luoma, isn’t about first descents or “some epic of mankind’s quest through the uncharted” territories. Rather, he and his crew, including our avid fisherman CEO, Thor Tingey, simply wanted to use a packraft to explore and fish in an extremely remote and braided river system in Alaska, inaccessible with larger rafts.

“This river drainage had always been on my radar, as it had great potential to be a fantastic trout fishery,” Luoma explains. “The idea for the film was to showcase a no-frills style float trip by using packrafts. Merging packrafting and fly fishing has been an interest of mine for a while now, and it was awesome to feature the two in the film.”

Along with choosing the subject of the film and the place, Luoma says he wanted to focus on themes like self-reliance, genuine adventure, and traveling as simply as possible. And with that, the story took on a life of it’s own.

“Stories like ‘100 Miles’ unfold as you go,” Luoma explains. “In our case, much of the story came to life weeks after the trip had finished. Throughout the post-production process we were able to identify what came through as powerful, funny, or intriguing. Some of our best footage came from ‘point the camera and see what happens’ method.”

Of course, there were challenges, primarily the weather. “We had some pretty serious rain for several days, which limited our filming opportunities and put our equipment at risk,” Luomo states. “The second challenge was that I did not have any type of camera support crew. This was a one-person show. I was in charge of paddling myself down the river, cooking meals, and doing all the necessary things to complete 100 miles on a backcountry river. All the filming and tech stuff had to fit in-between all that.”

But with that said, he had a fantastic adventure, especially rehashing the good fishing, fun, and mishaps with the guys at camp at the end of the day. You can see all their antics in the film.

Check out the trailer, or get your tickets to the Mancos Valley River Film Festival today!

MVRFF Features Durango Local Film, “Our Wild” – Q&A With the Filmmaker

For this year’s Film Fest, we wanted to find some local film makers. We put the word out, and Ben Kraushaar responded, submitting his film, “Our Wild” in the Wyoming Backcountry. The film focuses on the important role of public lands in the lives of outdoors lovers, and it features wildlife biologist Anna Ortega. She and two friends spent an entire summer traveling across Wyoming to collect data about mule deer migrations. But when they finished work, they hit the water, fly rods in hand. Ortega’s love of the land and water is palpable, and Kraushaar’s camera captures the majesty of the landscape. We asked Kraushaar a few questions.

What inspired you to do this film?

It’s hard to pin down all the inspirations for this film. First, I grew up in Durango, Colo. and my entire life has revolved around outdoor recreation and access to public lands, so it made sense to make a film that touched on our wild places that belong to all Americans. Second, my amazing girlfriend, Anna Ortega, is PhD student at the University of Wyoming, and she studies the world’s longest mule deer migration that happens to occur in Wyoming. Anna is also a phenomenal fly fisher, so I figured I would make a short film that combines her passion for research with her passion for fishing.

Every summer, Anna spends three months all across Wyoming collecting data and fishing, so I figured I would just tag along. Ultimately, I wanted to create something that could help inform the public about the importance of our public lands for both recreational endeavors and for the animals that rely on open and free places to move and thrive. These deer travel 150 miles twice a year from the Red Desert to Hoback near Jackson Hole and rely on public lands and open spaces to complete this annual journey. I hope to shed light on the importance of public lands for both angling and for the conservation of big game species.

What did you learn from doing this film?

This film was my first attempt at actually telling a story. All my previous videos have been just little fly fishing stoke edits with no real deeper meaning. That being said, I learned a ton about the film making process and all the nitty gritty stuff that goes into attempting to tell a compelling story.

What was your favorite thing about making it?

My favorite part about making this film was hanging out with Anna and her friends for two weeks all over Wyoming. Summer in Wyoming is the best, especially when you’re hiking all day and fishing every evening.

What was your biggest challenge with making it?

I think the most difficult thing about making this film was going at it 100% solo. I had not budget to make this so everything from the filming, to editing, to distribution was all on me. A lot of the places we filmed were remote and off trail in grizzly country. Carrying all my equipment without any help was a daily challenge.

What was the most memorable part of making the film?

That’s a tough question. The entire two weeks was very memorable but if there is one moment that stands out, it is probably our encounter with a grizzly bear. Its always a treat to see such a powerful and amazing creature.

Can you give us some backstory to the trips 4-legged companion, Harper?

Harper is Rica’s rescue pup. I’m pretty sure she is part coyote and is in her element romping through remote places in Wyoming.

Where in Wyoming was the film shot?

This film was shot all over Wyoming. Some clips were from the Laramie area, some near Pinedale, some near Hoback, the Red Desert and Dubois.

What was the most memorable catch of the trip?

Anna’s big brown was the most memorable. That big fella munched a tiny RS2 on 6x tippet and some how didn’t break Anna off. We were all stoked she landed that one.

Is there anything I’m not asking that you want to share with me?

If you or anyone else are interested in learning more about Anna’s great research, give her a follow on Instagram @mountain_taco and check out the Wyoming Migration Initiative Facebook Page.

Sneak Peek at The Premiere of “From the Doorstep” – An Urban BikeRaft Adventure

In this teaser, ultra runner and urban adventurer Brian Donnelly explores the bike and rafting opportunities offered by his local city, Portland, Oregon. Created by Pursuit Films, this short has been made available exclusively for the 2nd Annual Mancos Valley River Film Fest, to be held June 29 and 30, 2018.

This film will be shown during the first half of the festival. Get your tickets online now at–$20 in advance, $25 at the door. Click here to purchase your ticket.

From the Doorstep – An Urban BikeRaft Adventure from Alpacka Raft on Vimeo.

2nd Annual Mancos Valley River Film Fest FREE for All Burro & 416 Firefighters

Thank You Firefighters!

In appreciation of your hard work, we’d like to offer free tickets to all Burro and 416 firefighters for the Mancos Valley River Film Fest. Thank you for saving our homes and properties!

Read updates about the fire here.

For more information or to buy tickets, please visit Friday night’s event is free for everyone, and Outlier Cellars is donating 10% of the proceeds of sales from cider to the Mancos Trails Group. The Saturday main film event coincides with Mancos Grand Summer Nights, which will end just as the film fest begins. Tickets are $20 if you purchase online and $25 at the door. Please bring your own mug for beer, or purchase a 2018 Mancos Valley River Film Fest mug for $5.

Photo by Steve Fassbinder of a huge plume of smoke over the La Platas.

Thanks SO Much to All Our Sponsors! + The Poster Is Done!

Special thanks to our Founding Sponsor Alpacka Raft, our Class V Sponsor Specialized Bikes, and our Class IV Sponsor Osprey!

Poster by Jon Bailey.

Also thanks so much to our newest Class III sponsors 1st Southwest Bank, Patagonia, The Wells Group (real estate company, Durango, Colo.), The Durango Cyclerly, Hyperlite Mountain Gear (we just got in their brand new 5400 Backpack and a River Rescue Throw Bag!). As well, Kleen Kanteen just donated 200 pint glasses! Mancos Brewing Company is donating a keg. Outdoor Research and is donating some fantastic outdoor clothing. Revelate Designs and Durango’s Bedrock Bags are donating some sweet bikepacking bags.

Of course, we wouldn’t get any coverage if it wasn’t for our awesome Media Sponsors. Thanks KSUT, an independent, non-profit organization and radio station broadcasting from studios in Ignacio, Colorado. Also thanks to the region’s newest magazine, The Gulch; our favorite local newspaper, The Journal, out of Cortez; Adventure Pro, for the adventurer in all of us, and ZuMag!

To see a full list of sponsors, visit our Sponsors Page!