We have to leave the closing celebration early to catch our flight but not before Nicolai stops to speak with Tom Shadyac, director of I Am, the best film of the festival in my opinion and one worth seeing at any cost. I Am, an autobiographical documentary, explores what it means to be happy and calls into question the notion of the American Dream and our culture of consumption. Shadyac offers an alternative paradigm for fulfillment based on connectedness and kindness. Viewing the film was for me a life altering experience and I cannot recommend it highly enough to others.
Throughout the festival, Nicolai has been approached by fans who wanted to congratulate him on his story and he has been very gracious with all of them. His charm, however, seems in greatest abundance when those fans are young women of his own age. Celebrity is not without its rewards.
Nico’s Challenge screens for the second time this morning at the Palm Theater on a truly massive screen. I decide that it is OK to bring my camera on stage during our Q&A session and capture this nice image of Nicolai responding to a qestion from the audience.
We finish the day by attending talks given by Greg Mortenson, author of Three Cups of Tea, where he discusses his latest book Stones to Schools and by photographer Chris Jordan who presents his work depicting the sobering impact of plastic refuse on our environment.
Nicolai is a panelist for a Breakfast Talk, entitled Africa’s Challenges, sharing the stage with Dr. Rick Hodes and Prudence Mabhena to discuss what life is like for people with disabilities in Africa. Hodes is a surgeon specializing in spinal reconstruction who lives in Ethiopia with his adopted family of twenty performing free operations to straighten crooked backs. Prudence is the lead singer for the band Liyana featured in the Oscar Award winning short documentary Music by Prudence. Born without legs and one arm, abandoned by her parents, she has risen to fame on the wings of her angelic voice.
Alex Honnold is like no other athlete I have ever met. He does not know fear. This 23-year old free solo climber (no ropes or special gear) is featured in the film Alone on the Wall in which he climbs Yosemite’s Half Dome. I was terrified just watching the film and cannot comprehend the focus and drive necessary to accomplish such a feat.
With no speaking responsibilities today we elect to take in a little photography and make the short drive to the end of the box canyon in which Telluride is situated. Here we are treated to a view of Bridal Veil Falls which are full with spring runoff on this warm and sunny day. This two pronged waterfall is the tallest free standing in Colorado at 365 feet and is capped with a power generating station which produces 25% of Telluride’s electricity. The marmots here are abundant and show little respect for the law.
Hot chocolate and a freshly baked chocolate croissant, comparable to what he remembers from France, has Nicolai very happy with our choice of restaurant, The Butcher and the Baker. He is less pleased by the delay to his food enjoyment imposed by the taking of this photo.