2016 Wasatch Mountain Film Festival Kicks Off March 31


The Wasatch Mountain Film Festival returns for 2016 with a great lineup of films and great venues. Running from March 31 through April 9, the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival will screen 34 outdoor adventure films in 10 days.

What is the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival

The festival’s web site states the the festival was “conceived from the idea that the Wasatch Mountains are home to one of the most incredible mountain communities in the world.” We couldn’t agree more. For tickets, visit: www.wasatchfilmfestival.org

While the venues and dates have been set, the selection of films for each venue has yet to be determined. This year, the festival offers a wide selection of venues, making it easy for everyone to participate. Perhaps my favorite will be the screenings at Brewvies. I’m liking the idea of watching some good films and drinking my favorite local beers from Squatters Craft Beers. If you’re curious, may favorite is Hop Rising.

Thursday March 31: The Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave, Park City

Bluetopia–Directed by Simon Blair, Peter Blair, and Wyllie. 15 mins
For we Humans the challenge of the future is to learn how to co-operate afresh. Here in the Blue Mountains of Oz we decided to put this to the test by making a film on our own, amongst our close friends, without any commercial involvement. The result is Bluetopia. We hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed creating it. We climb, trail run, high line, canyon and BASE jump on a frequent basis but this time we took care to film it too in the places we love and call home. We feel an authentic story shared in the spirit of genuine community has the power to persuade people to reconsider their lives and make choices aligned with their deeper values and true passions. What do you love to do? It’s bound to be your real gift to the world.

Keep ExploringDirected by Mathieu Le Lay, 10 mins
A 3 weeks adventure with the French photographer Brice Portolano backpacking in the wilderness of British Columbia. After a week on Vancouver Island, Brice hiked in the South Chilcotin mountains with the aim of reaching the highest summits.

A Line Across the Sky–Directed by Josh Lowell. 40 mins
The Fitz Roy Traverse is one of the most sought after achievements in modern Alpinism: A gnarly journey across seven jagged summits and 13,000 vertical feet of climbing. Who knew it could be so much fun? Join Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold on the inspirising—and at time hilarious—quest that earned The Piloet d’Or.

Avaatra–Directed by Corey Rich. 6 mins
David Lama’s first ascent of Avaatara, a really tough 5.14d in the Baatara Gorge, Lebanon was amazing to witness. David found the route, bolted it, and climbed the route in only a few tries, which speaks to just how good he is at rock climbing.

Darklight–Directed by Mike Brown. Duration: 7 mins
The lights haven’t gone out yet! Sweetgrass Productions is back with Darklight, a film that takes viewers back into a world of light and color. Supported by innovative television manufacturer Philips TV, this is the third collaboration between the soulful filmmakers at Sweetgrass Productions and Swedish creative house Ahlstrand and Wållgren. Follow professional mountain bikers Graham Agassiz, Matt Hunter, and Matty Miles on a mind-bending night ride through the moonscapes of Southern Utah to the Ewok forests of the Pacific Northwest.

Friday, April 1: Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, 20 West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT

Paradise Waits–Directed by Teton Gravity Research. Duration: 75 min
As the days turn into weeks and the weeks roll into months, it’s the moments when everything seems to come together in perfect harmony that resonate the loudest. For those who anticipate winter’s arrival with frothing mouths and the dreams of what may come,this past year came with an unfamiliar set of struggles as these perfect moments became more and more elusive. But for the TGR team, this only hardened their pursuit of winter’s rewards. Through the highs and lows of a curious season, they come to find that the moments found on the other side of adversity are the greatest moments of all.

Life in a Legend’s Shadow—Directed by Chris Alstrin. Duration: 5min
Opportunities may be handed to you a little easier when you’re the son of a legend but that doesn’t guarantee success.  Being dragged to Pakistan at the age of 1for a climbing expedition only to come home with Chicken Pox and being told “You’re never going to be as good as your father”  would make any young child stay as far away from climbing as possible.  Jess Roskelley the son of Legendary climber John Roskelley and the only American to receive a Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award for his climbing achievements thought the same way throughout his childhood until that one climb changed his entire life.

Saturday April 2: Mt Jordan Theater, 9351 S. Mountaineer Lane, Sandy, UT

Sierra Quitiquit: How Did I Get Here–Directed by Chris Kitchen-KGB Productions. 60 mins
From humble beginnings, complex family dynamics and tragic, life-changing events, to her unlikely rise to success in two very different worlds: fashion modeling and professional skiing. How Did I Get Here is a coming-of-age story, full of adventure, exploration, heartbreak, growth and inspiration.

Be Bold–Directed by Natt Gunn. 3 mins
Be Bold tells the story of a woman driven to exhaustion by social pressures and the need to prove her worth via work titles and fast marathon status. After experiencing a nervous breakdown at the bombings of the 2013 Boston Marathon, she rededicates her life to finding true happiness and part of that meant leaving her career behind, healing from PTSD and overcoming a fear of running, right here in the trails of the Wasatch Front.

Indira–Directed by Nate Gunn. 3 mins
Andy Earl, is a Utah-based artist, photographer and mountaineer. He and his wife lost their 36 week old unborn baby. Andy shares his story and talks about his love for the mountains, family and how both have shaped his life.

Call of the Wild–Directed by George Bruce Wilson. 2 mins
Life gets busy and we make nature and adventure less and less of a priority. We live our lives through a computer screen instead of getting out there and experiencing it. Climb trees, climb rocks, and feel the wind, rain, and the sun and follow those dreams and goals that everyone sets and for one reason or another never follows through.

An Education–Directed by Fitz Cahall. 9 mins
National Geographic Explorer Mike Libecki tackles his 58th expedition with his 11 year old daughter, Lilliana, for her first skiing expedition to Antarctica. Neither had any idea of the magic, power and beauty they would encounter that would change their lives forever.

Walk in the Park—Wasatch Range–Directed by Jacob Callaghan. 4 mins
A Walk in the Park – Wasatch Range is a documentation of athletes, friends, and early season crew laps. Filmed on location at Park City and Brighton.

Sunday, April 3, Coffee & Cocoa, 6556 Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Cottonwood Heights, UT.

First Ascent-Vunyang Chhish East—Directed by Matteo Vettorel. Duration 37min.
A story of chopped fingers, fun, friendship and the First Ascent of Kunyang Chhish East (7,400m). Following the rules of true alpine style Hansjorg Auer, Matthias Auer and Simon ANthamatten embark on an adventure for the summit and for survival on Kunyang Chhish East.

Monday April 4: The Santy Auditorium, 1255 Park Ave, Park City, UT

Brilliant Darkness–Directed by Emily Driscoll. 12 mins
This film explores the importance of darkness, and the erosion of it, through the study and preservation of firefly habitats in Japan and the United States. Fireflies are reportedly disappearing, as artificial night lights disrupt their ‘languages of light’. Brilliant Darkness Hotaru in the Night, presented by the Zoological Lighting Institute, features artists and scientists on different continents working to understand firefly flash patterns and how to live among wildlife in urban settings.

Broken Landscape–Directed by Michael Miller. 13 mins
An explosion in unregulated ‘rat-hole’ coal mines turns a rural Indian community into the Wild West. That is, until the environmental destruction prompts the government to ban coal mining completely. Mine owners and villagers clash in this moving examination of the cost of unmonitored industrial development.

Martin’s Boat–Directed by Peter McBride. 24 mins
Preeminent conservationist David Brower called him his conscience: in the 1950’s when the Bureau of Reclamation proposed two dams in the Grand Canyon—one at Marble Canyon and the other at Bridge Canyon—the late Martin Litton made sure the Sierra Club didn’t acquiesce. Martin believed the best way for people to understand how important it was to preserve the Grand Canyon was to have them experience this secret world from the river, but not in just any boat. Martin pioneered whitewater dories on the Colorado River in the 1960’s and started a proud tradition of naming the boats after wild places that had been lost or compromised by the hand of man. Martin’s Boat is a film that honors the legacy of Martin Litton and follows the newest boat in the Grand Canyon Dories fleet, the Marble Canyon, on its maiden voyage down the legendary Colorado River through the grandest canyon on Earth.

62 Years–Directed by Logan Bockrath, 9 mins
The last time Ken Brower traveled down the Yampa River in Northwest Colorado was with his father, David Brower, in 1952. This was the year his father became the first executive director of the Sierra Club and joined the fight against a pair of proposed dams on the Green River in Northwest Colorado. The dams—a big one at Echo Park and a smaller one at Split Mountain—would have flooded the canyons of the Green and its tributary, Yampa, inundating the heart of Dinosaur National Monument. With a conservation campaign, David Brower and the Sierra Club ultimately won the fight—ushering in a period many consider the dawn of modern environmentalism. 62 years later, Ken revisited the Yampa & Green Rivers to reflect on his father’s work, their 1952 river trip, and how we will confront the looming water crisis in the American.

White Earth–Directed by J. Christian Jensen. 20 mins
A winter portrait of a North American oil boom seen through a child’s eyes.

Tuesday April 5: University of Utah, Orson Spencer Hall

Walk the Ridge–Director: Mathieu Le Lay. 3 mins
While exploring new mountain spots, Mathieu Le Lay’s camera followed Benjamin Dowie to make a short portrait of the Australian filmmaker inspired by the mountain environment. The two filmmakers hiked 4 peaks in a week. Amongst those peaks, there was the massive Mont Buet standing at 3096 meters in front of the Mont-Blanc mountain range. To reach this peak, they climbed up to 2225 meters during 7 exhausting hours. They set up their camp on top of the mountain during a fresh night to wake up with one of the most outstanding mountain view they had ever seen.

Streif–Directors: Gerald Salmina and Tom Dauer. 142 mins
The fairy-tale Tyrolean town of Kitzbühel buzzes with energy as the 2013 Hahnenkamm Races end with a boisterous party. And for good reason: nowhere else are the elite World Cup skiers so happy to have gotten through a race in one piece. They see Hahnenkamm Mountain’s downhill course, the Streif, as the ultimate challenge, which can be mastered only with perfect technique and extraordinary courage.

Wednesday April 6: Brewvies, 677 200 W, Salt Lake City, UT

Humble Pie–Director: Chris Alstrin. 5 mins
Failure is always present amongst professional athletes but few like to talk about it. Mayan Smith-Gobat and Niels Tietze are setting their sights on freeing “Free Rider” on El Capitan and The Regular Northwest Route on Half Dome in a 24 hour push.

The Crash Reel–Director: Lucy Walker. 108 mins
This eye-popping film seamlessly combines twenty years of stunning action footage with new specially-shot verité footage and interviews as it follows U.S. champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce and exposes the irresistible but potentially fatal appeal of extreme sports. An escalating rivalry between Kevin and his nemesis Shaun White in the run-up to the 2010 Olympics leaves Shaun on top of the Olympic podium and Kevin in a coma following a training accident in Park City, Utah. Kevin’s tight-knit Vermont family flies to his side and helps him rebuild his life as a brain injury survivor. But when he insists he wants to return to the sport he still loves, his family intervenes with his eloquent brother David speaking for all of them when he says, “I just don’t want you to die.” Kevin’s doctors caution him that even a small blow to the head could be enough to kill him. Will Kevin defy them and insist on pursuing his passion? With his now impaired skills, what other options does he have? How much risk is too much?

Friday April 8: South Towne Expo, 9575 State St, Sandy, UT

Picture of the Mountains–Directed by Matt Raimondo. 3 mins
Rock climber John O’Brien recalls his childhood fascination with the Glass House Mountains and how a poster once pinned on his bedroom wall grew into a dream to climb the craggy volcanic remnants that rise from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast hinterland (70 kilometers from Brisbane).

Monte Blanc–Directed by Luca Rolli. 13 mins
Follow those who live on Mont Blanc year round and enjoy all that the mountain has to offer—climbing, snowboarding, running, etc. With the use of drones and follow cams, this film lets you dive into the real action of extreme sports.

unReal–Directed by Teton Gravity Research Anthill Films. 45 mins
This film is for those of us who escape. A film that celebrates breaking free from the confines of reality and venturing into a boundless world. This place isn’t remote or hard to find, and yet many never see it. Here, glacial walls transform into mountain bike trails, rain and snow aren’t the only elements to fall from the sky and thousand pound mammals become riding partners. Breathtaking visuals conjure feelings of awe and pure joy; feelings that only those of us who venture outside can truly understand. unReal is dedicated to you—the dreamers, the rule-breakers, the ones who never grow up, the ones who know the secret—the ones who know the way into the unReal world.

Xuanzang’s Way–Directed by Andrew King. 12 mins
What is to be gained from running a 400-kilometre nonstop foot race through one of the most inhospitable deserts on the planet? Is there a benefit or just simply insanity? In this short film, ultra-running journalist Bryon Powell explores the reasons that compel this small group of athletes to place themselves in the middle of the Gobi Desert tracing parts of the historical Silk Road.

Saturday April 9 Afternoon: South Towne Expo, 9575 State St, Sandy, UT

The Quest for Inspiration, Alexandre Deschaumes Ethereal Photographs–Directed by Matieu Le Lay. 53 mins
Born of numerous solitary wanderings through autumnal forests, Alexander Deschaumes, landscape photographer, has developed his own universe. Guided by the dreamlike and enchanted atmospheres of wild and open nature, he attempts to transform his emotions into a certain form of evocative beauty. While preparing a new expedition to Patagonia, Alexander must face the torments of nature in his quest for the ethereal image.

Waters of Greenstone–Directed by Nathab Kaso. 6 mins
An exploration of the landscapes of the South Island of New Zealand.

Without an Image–Directed by James Pizsczor 22 mins
National Geographic Explorer Mike Libecki goes alone to Afghanistan to feed his addiction of first ascents, but instead finds brotherhood and politics that lead him to share the message of the beautiful Afghan people.

Saturday April 9 Evening: South Towne Expo, 9575 State St, Sandy, UT

The Sammy C Project–Directed by Teton Gravity Research. 45 mins
In 2014, after winning 5 X Games medals, Sammy Carlson abruptly stepped away from competition and dropped out of the Olympic rat race–even as slopestyle skiing was about to make its Winter Olympic debut. Instead, Sammy decided to pursue a new path that would push him and the sport of skiing to new places at all costs. Sammy’s newfound focus landed in the backcountry, where his drive and creativity could max out far beyond the limits of preset Slopestyle courses. The veritable freestyle onslaught that followed–on the world’s mountains, and even on a 240 foot-tall ski flying ramp in Michigan–was unlike any seen before, and would net Sammy three straight X Games Real Ski Backcountry gold medals. The Sammy C Project documents Sammy’s mastery of a new direction for skiing, and shows how convention should never stop you from pursuing the path you believe in.

Katabatic–Directed by Keith Ladzinski. 20 mins
Four explorers Mike Libecki, Corey Richards, Freddie Wilkinson, and Keith Ladzinski as part of a National Geographic Expedition spend 45 days in extreme weather conditions to explore Antarctica’s unclimbed peaks

Five Ways to Love in the Mountains–Directed by Graham Zimmerman and Forest Woodward. 5 mins
Jewell and Kyle, a couple who are passionate about each other as they are about mountain climbing, share five ways to love in the mountains.

The Forest–Directed by Dean Leslie. 5 mins
The Forest heads into the Giant Redwoods of Northern California with Anna Frost, Rickey Gates and Matt Flaherty and pays ode to the quiet moments of solitude and appreciation that only the wild can give us. Here’s to the wild.

For more information on ticket and venues, or to volunteer for the Wasatch Mountain Film Festival, visit wasatchfilmfestival.org.

About the author

Scott Cullins

Scott moved to Utah from Teton Valley, Idaho in 2011. He is publisher of Wastach Rider, Salt Lake Bard and the Teton Valley WYDAHO Outdoor Guide and Map. When he's not working, you might find Scott on his bike, or plucking his guitar. Email Scott at scott@canyonmedia.us

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