What to watch at the 5Point Adventure Film Festival

Surprise is one of the key ingredients of the 5Point Adventure Film experience, whether it’s a short film story that opens your eyes to a new corner of the word or a new perspective or a special guest who arrives on scene as the credits begin to roll. You don’t want to sit at the Carbondale Rec Center knowing exactly what’s on or off on the screen.

But here’s a taste of some of the best films to come to the festival, which returns to an in-person house from Thursday to Sunday and as always features a diverse and surprising collection of moving adventure stories.

In keeping with the fragile tenor of our pandemic moment, many films address mental illness and several feature world-class athletes and adventurers opening up about their own struggles.

“If I Tell Them” (Courtesy 5Point Film)


Friday night movie program, 7 p.m.

Special guests include director Oliver Sutro

Roaring Fork Valley-based photographer and filmmaker Oliver Sutro paints a gripping emotional and visual portrait of fishing guide James Sampsel as he grapples with his bipolar disorder and its effects on his livelihood on the water as well than his roles as husband and father. Sutro shoots the 12-minute film entirely on water and in the woods, including lavish scenes of Sutro painting canvases in the rain, giving it an otherworldly spirit. In the first moments, Sampsel wonders what would happen if his fishing clients knew about his mental illness or his past manic and depressive episodes: “If I tell them, will they ever come back fishing with me? »

“Learning to Drown” (courtesy 5Point Film)


Friday night movie program, 7 p.m.

A searing and inspiring portrait of despair and, eventually, hope, this intimate 40-minute documentary tells the story of professional snowboarder Jess Kimura. The Canadian rider talks about her fall from the pinnacle of her sport, her brain injury, her diagnosis of schizophrenia, her deep struggles after the death of her partner and finding a way forward. She finds him in the ocean, overcoming a lifelong fear of water through surfing.

“It’s like pushing your mind to push your body to do something crazy that expresses everything I have inside of me,” she says of her extreme sports activities. “It’s just my nature. I tried to calm him down, but I’m so excited.

This is the latest film from 5Point favorite Ben Knight and Felt Soul Media, whose previous films include “The Last Honeyhunter” and “Life of Pie.”

“It’s Beth” (Courtesy of 5Point Film)


Saturday night movie program, 7 p.m.

Beth Rodden is freedom personified. Or so it seemed as she became one of the most famous and accomplished free climbers in the world, achieving her first ascents and free ascents on El Capitan.

“People saw the magazine covers and the videos, but they didn’t know what was underneath,” Rodden, now 40, says in the film.

Underneath are crippling body image issues and negative self-talk and a dark time after her divorce from mountaineer Tommy Caldwell.

Directed by Jen Randall and backed by evocative archival footage, the film made with support from the 5Point Film Fund and makes its world premiere at the festival.

“Before I Die” (Courtesy of 5Point Film)


Changemakers program, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Special guests include director/producer Rush Sturges and subject Tristan Bussell

After his father dies from early genetic Alzheimer’s disease, a rare form of the disease, his son Tristan takes a DNA test to find out if he will contract it and finds he has a 100% chance. At 36, he embraces living fully. His goal: to become good enough at whitewater kayaking to make a waterfall flow. This tearful 10-minute film, made with the support of the 5Point Film Fund, follows Tristan on his mission.

“From My Window” (courtesy 5Point Film)


Changemakers program, Sunday, 11 a.m.

Special guests include subject Melissa Simpson

“From my window, I can see the highest peaks in Colorado,” says Melissa Simpson of Leadville in the opening moments of this 20-minute epic. “I’ve always wanted to tackle these mountains.

Born with cerebral palsy and using a wheelchair, Simpson hadn’t reached any peaks and also needed help getting around her hometown. That begins to change after meeting Erik Weihenmayer – the blind adventurer who has summited Everest – who serves as a mentor, climbing partner and inspiration as Simpson begins to pursue his dreams.

“Ripped” (courtesy 5Point Film)


Sunday, April 24, 3 p.m.

Special guests include Conrad and Jennifer Lowe-Anker

Max Lowe was 10 when his father, superstar mountaineer Alex Lowe, died in an avalanche during an expedition to Tibet in October 1999. Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, Conrad Anker, later married the widow of Alex and raised Max and his two brothers. Now a filmmaker, Max used his camera as a therapeutic tool for himself and his family, attempting to address the trauma of their loss in intimate interviews and by digging through Alex’s archives in their Bozeman home. The result is “Torn,” a revealing and radically intimate documentary.

It’s part of a three-movie lineup that also includes “An Accidental Life” (Friday, 10:30 a.m.) and “The River Runner” (Saturday, 3 p.m.).


Friday, April 22, 3:30 p.m.

Best-selling adventurer/philosopher Jedidiah Jenkins, author of the must-have “Like Streams to the Ocean,” is a natural candidate for 5Point. He will record an episode of his popular podcast at the festival with Jenkins in conversation with filmmaker Taylor Rees (“From Kurils with Love”). Next, Jenkins will give a lecture and do an off-mic Q&A with the 5Point audience.


Saturday April 23, 11 a.m.

Forget the Saturday morning cartoons or watch “Encanto” for the umpteenth time, 5Point’s family-centric program is a reliable, kid-friendly experience that for many years has showcased some of the festival’s best films. The 2017 girl’s skateboard short “Gnarly in Pink,” for example, was a 5Point favorite that was later distributed by National Geographic.

This year is a 90-minute bilingual program hosted by Voce Unidas de las Montañas co-founder Jasmin Ramirez and conservationist Beatriz Soto, followed by an ice cream social.

About Monty S. Maynard

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