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Mountainfilm festival highlights world view in Houston return: 3 don't-miss documentaries

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Nord for Sola Mountainfilm
Film still from Nord for Sola Courtesy of Mountainfilm on Tour
Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, banner
Mountainfilm on Tour an offshoot of the popular Colorado film fest hits Houston on Friday and Saturday. Mountainfilm/Facebook
Duk County Mountainfilm festival film
Still from Duk County Courtesy of Duk County / Facebook
high and hallowed mountainfilm
Still from High & Hallowed: Everest 1963 Courtesy of Mountainfilm on Tour
Nord for Sola Mountainfilm
Telluride Mountainfilm Festival, banner
Duk County Mountainfilm festival film
high and hallowed mountainfilm

On the heels of 2013's sold-out event, the Mountainfilm on Tour festival returns to the Asia Society Texas Center on Friday for two nights of eye-opening short films and guest speakers.

A traveling version of the acclaimed Mountainfilm fest in Telluride, this year's event presents a dozen independent shorts exploring rarely-seen corners of our globe and the communities that thrive in these often challenging locales.

While the films cover an impressive range of scenery — from ornithologists in Papua New Guinea to kayakers in the Mexican jungle — local festival organizers want to stress the broader social and ecological implications of the movie series.

"For us, Mountainfilm is about entertainment, awareness and education of other places and people," says Shushana Castle, who partnered with her husband Jack to bring the mini-festival to Houston in 2012.

"We want people to open their eyes to what's happening beyond their own neighborhood. People in Houston have the means and wherewithal to make a positive difference not only in their backyard, but around the world."

Though the Castles struggled to pick their favorites from this weekend's line-up, the couple highlighted these three must-see documentaries:

Duk County

Noted mountain climber and eye surgeon Dr. Geoff Tabin journeys to South Sudan — which became an independent nation in 2011 — for a five-day mission to deliver eye-care to the country's most remote and war-torn regions. The team works with John Dau (one of the original "Lost Boys of Sudan") to restore the eyesight of more than 200 people.

Dau will discuss the film following the Friday screening at 7:15 p.m.

Nord for Sola (North of the Sun)

Two young Norwegians spend nine months living on a beach in the Arctic Circle . . . to surf. The duo lives off the land and sea, taking advantage of some the world’s finest undiscovered surfing conditions and testing a hypothesis that they can survive happily from the waste of others that washes ashore.

The film will be shown Saturday at 6:59 p.m.

High & Hallowed: Everest 1963

A team of U.S. mountaineers retrace the steps of Jim Whittaker, who became the first American to scale Mount Everest in May of 1963. Past and present collide as the modern-day climbers face a series of daunting conditions that, ultimately, foil their attempts to recreate Whittaker's feat.

Director David Morton will speak after the screening on Saturday at 8:58 p.m.

The Mountainfilm on Tour festival runs from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Asia Society. Single-day tickets start at $30 and two-day tix for $50. Entry includes complimentary wine, beer and beverages. Dinner fare from Montrose restaurant Canopy is available at 5:30 p.m. and at intermission for an additional fee.

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