Dennis Aig is a filmmaker and educator with more than 30 years of experience. He has produced and directed both documentary and dramatic productions for the Walt Disney Company, National Geographic, PBS, Lifetime and many others. Aig received a Ph.D. from Ohio State University and before becoming a professor of film and photography at Montana State University. His films have won numerous awards, including a Cine Golden Eagle, 16 Tellys, three regional Emmys and a Gold Hugo. Aig’s other works include the wildly popular film “Unbranded.”
A writer, photographer, cultural anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer, Alizé Carrére has spent several years traveling the world examining the ways humans are adapting to climate change. She has traveled from Madagascar to Norway and India to research and document the stories of the people on the front lines of climate change, such as farmers in Bangladesh who plant floating gardens in the country’s rising waters.
Lynne Cox is an American long-distance open-water swimmer, motivational speaker, and author. Over the course of more than 35 years, spanning a period equal to 8 Olympic Games, Lynne accomplished swims setting world records and opening borders, contributed to medical research, supported environmental causes, and inspired people to overcome great obstacles. She is best known for her swim across the Bering Strait from the United States to the Soviet Union 7 August 1987. She twice held the overall record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel from England to France and has completed over 60 challenging swims around the world.
Tyler Dunning grew up in southwestern Montana, where he developed a feral curiosity and reflective personality at a young age. This mindset led him many places — to nearly all of the U.S. national parks and the darker recesses of his own creativity. He’s dabbled in such occupations as professional wrestling, archaeology, social justice advocacy and academia. At his core, he is a writer.
In 2011, while hiking solo on a bow hunting trip in the Montana backcountry, chef and Bozeman, Montana, local Eduardo Garcia spotted a dead bear. Nudging the carcass with his knife, he was shocked by 2,400 volts of electricity from a hidden power line. The jolt left nine exit wounds, and doctors told Garcia he was “a bag of bones with a heartbeat.” He was hospitalized for months of recovery from severe burns and surgeries to remove four ribs and his left hand. Charged: The Eduardo Garcia Story depicts what happens when, “All of the sudden, overnight, at 30 years old, you have to rethink how to do every single task.” Garcia’s journey — from a scarred, but grateful, state through painstaking recovery and into the national media spotlight as “the Bionic Chef” — continues, with roles as a motivational speaker, chef-entrepreneur behind the brand Montana Mex, and fundraiser and advocate for the Challenged Athletes Foundation.
Jennifer Jane is originally from Dorest, England, and moved to Montana after meeting Eduardo Garcia. Throughout Eduardo’s difficult recovery, Jane remained a close friend and primary caregiver. She kept the camera rolling, generating a library of unique footage. She is the co-founder and CMO of Montana Mex, as well as a writer and executive producer of “A Hungry Life,” an outdoor cooking series in production for Yeti Coolers. Jane is a creative with a passion for writing, design and visual media. She holds in a bachelor’s of science in psychology and enjoys dancing and board sports. She also performs stand-up comedy.
Buzzy Kerbox is a legendary water innovator and has pioneered many ground-breaking water techniques that include tow-in surfing with the likes of Laird Hamilton and Derrick Doerner. Kerbox was also amongst the first to get involved with the growth of windsurfing and riding waves on windsurfers and was rated among the top 16 surfers from 1977 to 1983. In 1978, he claimed the coveted World Cup of Surfing title in Hawaii and also won the Coke Surfabout in Australia. Regarded as one of the best paddlers in the world, Kerbox was the first to paddle the English Channel with Laird Hamilton. He is consistently a top finisher at the Molokai Paddle event, a grueling 32-mile race.
Ben Knight is a filmmaker and once-Telluride local who was inspired to make films because of Telluride Mountainfilm. In 2014, DamNation (Mountainfilm 2014) premiered at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival in Austin, Texas. The documentary, produced in conjunction with Patagonia, explores dam removal and restoring free-flowing American rivers. The project received a Mountainfilm Commitment Grant in 2011.
Dave O’Leske founded Through a Child’s Eyes Productions in 1998 as an adventure, cultural and environmental digital video production company. His work has taken him around the world, telling unique stories through award-winning documentaries, commercial videos and photography. O’Leske’s first documentary, Spirit of Snow, won a Special Jury Award at the Mountainfilm in 2002. O’Leske spent nearly 10 years filming the mythical climber Fred Becky in the mountains of China, North America and in Becky’s home in the Pacific Northwest to create Dirtbag: The Legend of Fred Beckey (Mountainfilm 2017).
A photographer and filmmaker, Jeff Orlowski is the director of Chasing Ice (Mountainfilm 2012) and Chasing Coral (Mountainfilm 2017). Since graduating from Stanford in 2007, he has worked exclusively with James Balog and the Extreme Ice Survey, which has led him to document the effects of climate change in some of the most extreme climates and places on earth. His work has screened on NOVA, NBC, CNN and ESPN and other networks.
Zack Rago’s passion for the ocean began in the Hawaiian Islands, where he spent many childhood summers under the waves of the Pacific. His infatuation with coral led to a position at a local aquarium shop for four years before bringing him to Teens 4 Oceans. Rago received his degree in evolutionary biology and ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder. As a talented reef aquarist and long-time scuba diver, he believes that experience is the best teacher. Through hands-on research opportunities and experiencing the underwater world, Rago believes that we can cultivate a generation of educated, empowered and inspired ocean stewards.
Auden focuses on big scale solutions to climate change, primarily clean energy and activism. He has been a trailer insulator, burger flipper, ambulance medic, Outward Bound instructor, high school math and English teacher, and Forest Service goose-nest island builder. His writing has been published in Harvard Business Review, the L.A. Times, Climatic Change, Atlantic.com, Huffington Post, The Denver Post, and other media, and his work has been covered in Outside, Fast Company, Travel + Leisure and Businessweek. In 2006, Auden was named a global warming innovator by Time Magazine and in 2007 he testified to Congress on the impacts of climate change on public lands.
Nicholas Schrunk has created an inspiring body of work in the action and adventure sports industry, and his talents landed him at Red Bull Media House as the creative director. With a formal education in biology and design, his work as an award-winning director combines a reason-driven interest in science with the design principles of assembly and arrangement, as evidenced in the film Blood Road.
Steven Skadron has been the Mayor of the City of Aspen since June, 2013. He is committed to sustainable land use practices that support a healthy year-round community and a vibrant visitor-based economy. Under his leadership, Aspen has achieved its goal of reaching 100% renewable energy in its municipal utility and tightened building codes that threatened small town character. Mayor Skadron previously served six years as a member of the Aspen City Council and is the principal of SpoonerSkadron LLC, a marketing communications firm he founded in 2003. He is a graduate of University of Minnesota
Jason joined ACES in 2013 as the Site Director for Rock Bottom Ranch. Growing up in the restaurant industry, Jason has been involved with food his whole life. Progressing through restaurants in North Carolina and New York, Jason accepted a position at The Little Nell in 2004. After working under Chef Ryan Hardy, Jason became passionate about sourcing local food and especially interested in sustainable agriculture. In 2010, he returned to North Carolina where he enrolled in a sustainable agriculture program and started a farm with his wife, Sarah.
Laura Thielen’s professional experiences include longtime Executive and Artistic Director for Aspen Film preceded by Program Director for the San Francisco International Film Festival. She has served on juries (Sundance, Denver, Palm Springs) and panels (NEA, Colorado Creative Industries), Rockefeller Foundation). Based in the Rocky Mountains, Laura is currently developing a new project, Flickering World, with creative partner George Eldred with whom she writes a regular film column for Aspen Sojourner. Her article on three docs about Syria appeared in the June issue of Film Quarterly. When she’s not watching movies, you’ll find Laura searching out a new trail to walk or good book to read.