The majority of the films were adventure oriented. Some of the films I caught were about: base jumping into a deep cave pit in Mexico, rock climbing with hilarious Timmy O'Neil, surf boarding in the Great Lakes, whitewater kayaking on the Slave River and a first descent of the middle Kaweah, an effort by two French mountaineers to summit every peak over 4,000 meters in the Alps, training hunting eagles in Mongolia and riding a bicycle across Tibet. The photography in nearly every film was superlative and worth seeing on the big screen.
My favorite of the adventure flicks was Parallelojams with Tim O'Neil. It was educational (about crack climbing techniques), funny (Tim can rap and mimic accents and more), and inspiring (he shows a girl completing a hard climb that the boys peeled off). It revealed plainly the reason that I am not into crack climbing: these climbers disregard the removal of their own skin as something funny and worth doing. They joke about bleeding and revel in showing the "oozies" of wounds. I hate to leave my skin behind on the rock, and prefer other kinds of climbing that damage my body less.
Local David Snowberg's slideshow about a 3,000 mile stealth bike trip in China, and largely through Tibet, was inspiring but out of focus. I was surprised he didn't fix the focus, as I know he is one of those detail-oriented engineers. He is shy and I think he was nervous about speaking in front of so many people. He is able to complete rather extreme solo expeditions by bike and sea kayak largely because he is so "even tempered" and bland.
I find the whitewater films shallow. I dedicated 20 years of my life to river running. The kayak films show two things: people running really stupid dangerous stuff, and people doing the latest and greatest freestyle tricks. The point of each kayaking movie seems to be that FEAR is something you can ignore. A subtheme is that playing is the purpose of life. Deranged death metal music detracts from my abililty to groove along.
I was fairly agressive as a kayaker, and I remember being the only woman on many many trips. At some time in my 30's I stopped wanting to take such great risks, and I stopped running the hard stuff with "the boys". To watch Ed Lucero chancing spinal compression to prove something about fear is not interesting or inspiring to me. He holds the world record for tallest waterfall run in a kayak, over 100 feet. This is more about risk taking than it is about skill. I do not worship rodeo stars in boating. In films I am more interested in finding meaning in our lives and relationships. I am more interested in the remote lands you can access by river. These films show young kayakers (except Ed, he's old enough to know better) doing something that I have already completed. I would like to see them broaden their interests and films from gnarliness and self-worship to something greater.
The last night of the festival the theme shifted to religion, and there was a slideshow by Alison Wright called the "Spirit of Asia" and another movie by philosopher/photographer David Holbrook, this one about the need for a New God, a new religion to take us into a new paradigm. I think this 18 minute short was my favorite of the festival, which tells you more about my interests than the fest.
Global Warming was mentioned in many of the films. In one ski flick it was not mentioned, but it was obviously a theme. The film kept cutting back and forth from large cities with cars moving like ants and smokestacks spewing, back up to the snow and people doing wild stunts sliding on it. There was a brief flash to a map of the North pole, showing two difference icecap sizes. I know from other readings that new shipping lanes are opening up due to melting ice in the Artic. It is now cheaper and shorter to run your big boat over the northern end of the planet than it is to cross the Pacific. The Northern Passage will change from myth to reality.
Sunday night's film Magic Mountain followed humanitarian Cynthia Hunt as she tromped around Muslim Ladakh in Northern India, educating women in small Himalayan villages about health and literacy. The film showed how these people access the civilized world by walking on a frozen river to the nearest road. The river isn't freezing as well as it used to freeze, and last winter the people were unable to make the trip. The glaciers are receding and centuries-old towns in the Himalaya are having to relocate because their water sources are drying up. These kinds of observations about climate change are not scientific, but they are common enough, and jive with my experience and that of my friends enough, that I believe climate change is happening---and fast.
Last note: the organizers of this film festival for the last several years are a pack of Canadians, including Jeff, the same guy that has organized Bike To Work Week for years running. This pack of Canadians are going back to their homeland, so the future of the Film Festival is in question. Volunteers needed.