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High Country

Entrenched in nostalgia, HIGH COUNTRY is a timeless story about a community of young people, disguised as hippies and ski bums, who happened upon a ramshackle immigrant mining town on the fringe of society and together fought to conserve and protect it for years to come. Our film will explore how one small mountain community has attempted to walk the line between development and conservation; growth and sustainability. This struggle, however, is not specific to Crested Butte, Colorado, it is a constant challenge for small towns across North America. In making this film, we are attempting to do our part, not only to conserve a piece of American history, but also to educate and inform future generations to come.

  • Conor Hagen
    Beyond Midnight: The Grand Traverse, The Spaulding Oyster, The Allen Farm, Sister, Candy May, Hymn
  • Ali Batwin
    The Dawn Wall, Reel Rock 11 + 12 + 13, Brette, Boys in the Bugs, High & Mighty I & II, Aerial America, National Geographic Channel's Ultimate Factories
  • Chris Fisher
    Expecting Amy, The Allen Farm
  • Chris Fischer
    Executive Producer
    Expecting Amy, The Allen Farm
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Environmental, Social
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 2 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 15, 2020
  • Production Budget:
    50,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Breckenridge Film Festival
    United States
    September 17, 2020
    North American Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Crested Butte Film Festival
    Crested Butte
    United States
    September 26, 2020
    World Premiere
    Audience Choice Award
  • Ouray International Film Festival
    United States
    June 26, 2021
    Audience Choice Award
  • Nederland International Film Festival
    United States
    Best Nature Film
  • Front Range Film Festival
  • Paonia Film Festival
  • Sonoma International Film Festival
  • Colorado Environmental Film Festival
    Denver, CO
    United States
    Audience Choice Award
  • Martha's Vineyard Film Festival

    September 30, 2021
  • Bolinas Film Festival
Director Biography - Conor Hagen

Conor was born in Crested Butte, Colorado and grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He received a B.A. in Film and Television Studies from the University of Vermont before moving to New York City to work alongside his mentor, documentarian Albert Maysles. He then worked under the filmmaker Darren Aronofsky before deciding to pursue his own career as a documentary filmmaker. He’s now had multiple films screen at various festivals across the United States and is currently working on a number of different music videos and other new projects. Conor considers HIGH COUNTRY, a documentary about his hometown, to be a very personal passion project and has been working on it for five years. Conor currently lives in Sonoma, California.

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Director Statement

The nickname “Paradise” is often used when describing my hometown of Crested Butte, Colorado, also the subject of our documentary film, HIGH COUNTRY, and rightly so. Crested Butte is an old mining-town-turned-ski-town nestled at the headwaters of the Gunnison Valley in Southwestern Colorado. It is surrounded by some of the most pristine, untouched wilderness in Colorado. It’s the kind of place, that when driving into, one literally gasps in awe of the beauty. To the outside world, it is a town known for its world-class biking, skiing, hiking, wildflowers, and natural beauty. But, to locals, it is known for much more. It is considered with great pride as a place defined by its conservationist spirit, it’s antics, it’s costume parties, it’s defiance of the norms, and mostly by its strength of community. But, as a resort town, Crested Butte is not alone in it’s struggles to cope with economic pressures and environmental impacts at the hand of tourism and growth.
"Crested Butte is a microcosm of a much larger American debate", a debate of who we want to be. If we simply acquiesce and standby as progress bounds forward, we’re going to be left in the dust, licking our wounds and complaining. But, if we embrace our local communities with care, if we consider the future, then we might see some positivity within the progress. We exist in one of the most divisive eras in American history; in order for us to save our communities and conserve our natural world we must embrace progress with care and consideration, much like the town of Crested Butte has consistently attempted to do.