Up on the Mountain follows Southeast Asian refugees, Latino immigrants, and rural Americans on a year-round migration to harvest wild mushrooms in the American west. Working on foot in public forests, mushroom picking is an accessible path to self-employment for people who face historic barriers to obtain capital and property ownership. But despite evidence of the sustainability of the harvest, the workers who supply the restaurants of Europe, Japan, and North America are repeatedly denied access to public lands. In the observational documentary tradition, Up on the Mountain exposes race and class inequities in natural resources policies as well as the inspiring resourcefulness of the disenfranchised communities who depend on them.

Special Mention awarded by the jury of the Gaïa award at the Jean Rouch film festival:

“For the quality of the attachment to the characters, to their practices, and to the adversity that they face. Through finding the right distance, this film sheds new light on life in the ruins of capitalism as Anna Tsing so aptly described: the repeated destruction of public forests and the conflicts between economic, regulatory, and ecological norms. And off to the side of the mushroom logistical routes, migrants, outsiders, and forest rangers orchestrate a theater of American precarity and ethnic solidarities.”

“Powerful, riveting, and aesthetically beautiful. This calls to mind the way in which our Western society largely sees nature and humanity as separate from one another. Wild mushroom harvesting offers a beacon of a different paradigm.”
–Fa-Tai Shieh, Professor, Food Studies, The New School.

“A classic case of political ecology, artfully rendered. The forest, which at first is a refuge and a source of livelihood, becomes suddenly a place where one fears being kidnapped. What public are public forests for?”
–Claude Péloquin, Environmental Geography Researcher

“Immersive, patient, and gorgeous, it supplies us with information that enhances our experience.”
Rustin Thompson, Writer and Filmmaker

“The film posed some pointed questions about the actions and motives of the US Forest Service’s seemingly inconsistent oversight.”
–Coley Gray, Documentary Magazine