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Up on the Mountain cover image

Up on the Mountain 2020

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Collective Eye Films, 1315 SE 20th Ave. #3, Portland OR 97214; 971-236-2056
Produced by Oliver Matthon and Michael Reis
Directed by Oliver Matthon
Streaming, 54 mins

High School - General Adult
Ecology; Economics; Immigration

Date Entered: 02/07/2023

Reviewed by Michael J. Coffta, Business Librarian, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Up on the Mountain is a deeply personal exploration of the surprisingly complex and contending forces swirling around commercial mushroom harvesting on US public land. Many migrant workers choose the hand picking of wild mushrooms as a means of living over a minimum wage job. With this choice comes a great deal of uncertainty. The film does an excellent job in portraying camaraderie as well as tension among commercial mushroom harvesters, recreational mushroom harvesters, mushroom sellers, and Nation Park authorities. Furthermore, logging interests often take priority over mushroom harvesting, leaving harvesters empty-handed. Too, there are concerns about conservation, as each interest may harm these protected ecosystems. Often times, these harvesters are turned away from public lands out of concern for over-harvesting. The film makers, without excessive drama, skillfully and sympathetically portray all of the contending priorities involved.

The film is overflowing with gorgeous scenery, and one understands the lure of working in these beautiful settings instead of a factory, warehouse, etc. The technical quality of the film is high. Without interviewer prompts to guide the individuals' respective insights, and with the exception of a verbal flare-up between two parties, the film itself is very quiet and calming. There is no narration, and only a handful of stills of expository text sprinkled throughout.

This film is highly recommended for high school audiences in particular, who may have compelling discussions about mutually exclusive decision making.

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