Mammoth Film Festival History
With films from around the world, and attendees from as far away as Frankfurt and Tel Aviv, the Mammoth Film Festival takes place annually in Mammoth Lakes, California. It is an international competitive festival, known for its trademark elimination-style Feature Film Tournament.
The inaugural event was held in November 2007, and featured a slate of films in genres ranging from documentary to martial arts. The first Best Picture Award was won by Jon Dunham and Melissa Leggett for the documentary film Spirit Of The Marathon, which went on to gross $1 Million in its first two days of theatrical release. Olympic medalist and local Mammoth resident, Deena Kastor, starred in the film and was on hand for the celebration. Daily panels included discussions with filmmakers and industry executives, and nightly events included two exclusive shows by Louden Swain, and a wine tasting event sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola’s Director’s Cut wines.
For the 2nd Annual Mammoth Film Festival, in 2008, a short film competition was added, to complement the Feature Film Tournament. The event grew to ten days, and showcased over sixty films across over 150 screenings, including a number of special screenings, and the world premiere of State of Rock, from filmmaker Anthony Arkin. Festival activities included a debut visit from the BlackBerry Storm, a fundraiser for Paul Newman’s Association of Hole In The Wall Camps, and a special night of short films presented inside the Mammoth Brewing Company Warehouse. Mammoth Lakes and Mammoth Mountain also crossed significant growth milestones during the year, striking a broad deal with Patina Restaurant Group, and starting seasonal daily non-stop flights from Los Angeles.
In 2009, MovieMaker magazine named Mammoth Film Festival to its list of Top 25 festivals in North America, recognizing MFF as a festival “rapidly growing in recognition and praise.” The 3rd Annual event was moved from November to December, and the festival continued to expand its offerings by adding two new competitive film groups: Green films, and Extreme Sports films. These additional genres not only represent a progressive niche for filmmakers, but also reflect the core values and qualities of the Mammoth area.
The festival continues to discover, recognize, and support filmmakers from around the world by introducing their work to audiences and entertainment industry executives. Conceived by film financier Meng King in 2006 as a venue to bridge art and commerce through film, the Mammoth Film Festival was officially founded and launched in 2007 by Mr. King and Andreas Wettstein. The main Feature Film Tournament, the first major film competition to be structured as an elimination-style tournament, reflects the competitive nature of the film industry, while also paying tribute to the importance of the audience in a film’s real world success.
Mr. King and Mr. Wettstein collectively have spent over thirty years in film and music, including finance, distribution and production. They are both California natives, and each spent many winters on the slopes of Mammoth Mountain.