Adventures in starting a film festival
Julie Kennedy was supposed to have been climbing in the Himalayas this past fall. But, having already racked up some notable mountaineering feats Denali, Mt. Blanc, a 22,000-foot peak in the Himalayas in her 53 years, she believed she could have an even bigger adventure right at home in Carbondale.I figured it was better to jump off this cliff and start a film festival, said Kennedy, whose 5Point Film Festival debuts tonight, and runs through Saturday in various Carbondale venues. And it really was jumping off a cliff. Ive never done anything like this. Its that thing: Are you going to live static and complacent? Or are you going to jump out of that safe zone?
Kennedy, a former publisher of Climbing magazine, was persuaded to take the leap last August, over breakfast with Yvon Chouinard. It had been some years since Kennedy had spent time with Chouinard, the Maine-born founder of Patagonia, and the two reminisced about the early days of their friendship. Those shared memories had to do not so much with outdoor adventures Kennedy, despite her high-altitude accomplishments, claims to be scared of heights, and not a great climber but with the adventure film festivals they attended together 30 years ago. The idea of a new festival was floated, and Chouinard didnt blink.He looked at me and said, Im in, said Kennedy. I asked, what does that mean? He said, Ill help you get it off the ground. Lets do it.
For the inaugural 5Point festival, Kennedy, using the contacts she made during her decade with Climbing magazine, pulled together some 25 outdoors-related films, split into five screening programs, and discussions featuring such outdoorsmen as climbers Erik Weihenmayer and Aron Ralston, Olympic snowboarder Chris Klug, surfer Gerry Lopez, and Chouinard. Organizing the event has been a challenge on the level of climbing Denali. But Kennedy expects that she will not be the only one experiencing a sense of adventure. One of her principal goals for the 5Point Festival is to create the sort of thrills that she and Chouinard and Kennedys husband, Michael Kennedy, a noted climber and the former editor of Climbing magazine found at film festivals in the 70s.It was before DVDs, before VHS, and you couldnt see these exciting, inspirational films unless you went to a film festival, said Kennedy, a Michigan native who, lured by skiing, moved to Aspen in 1974. To go to these film festivals across the country, it wasnt just the films youd see. It was a gathering of your tribe, all these people you respected and played with. It was an exchange of ideas what climbs are safe, what climbs are you going to do. It was amazing camaraderie and it was an amazing experience in my life at 22, 23. Every time Id come away from a festival and go book a ticket for some place around the world. It got me out of my comfort zone, to go explore the world and myself.
Kennedys perspective on adventuring has been altered by age, by becoming a parent. While 5Point features a fair amount of adrenaline-inducing segments the festival opens with tonights Rock n Reel highlighting the faster, steeper, higher, deeper, according to the official program the festival aims to spread a conscientiousness about the outdoors as much as the thrills to be had. The festivals title comes not only from the five-point system by which rock-climbing routes are rated, but also by five guiding principles: respect, humility, commitment, purpose, balance. Kennedy says the opportunity to make money, a fairly recent development for adventure athletes, has pushed young people to take bigger risks. She adds that the shortage of gatherings like the film festivals of the past has contributed to the problem. Kids who watch DVDs on computers, they dont have that exchange, that camaraderie, she said. But were a community, people doing wild things. And we need to be together, to share. Our speakers, Ive told them, you have to drive that idea of humility into them.
Among the films included in the festival are Ski the 14ers, a profile of Aspenite Chris Davenports project to ski all of Colorados 14,000-foot peaks in one calendar year; Sliding Liberia, a part surf film, part social documentary about the war-ravaged African nation; The Endless Knot, a true story mixing adventure, tragedy and romance; and Flying Downhill: Seven Years with Bode, a profile of skier Bode Miller, being screened as a work in progress. The program was selected with an eye toward story and sprit as much as what Kennedy calls hairball action. Its not just adrenaline, said Kennedy. There are stories behind this. Some heart and soul. Everything will be with a conscience.While the films make up the bulk of the festival, Kennedy calls the two panel discussions the heart of the festival. On Friday, a series of parent-and-child athlete teams including Kennedys 18-year-old son Hayden, and her husband Michael will talk about Inspiring Passion & Lifestyle with Your Children. On Saturday, Ralston, who amputated his arm to rescue himself from a slot canyon; Klug, who earned an Olympic medal following a liver transplant; and Weihenmayer, the first blind person to summit Mt. Everest, will participate in a discussion called Living Passionately Through Adversity.Kennedy says her desire to create the festival was fueled not only be her sense of adventure, but as a model for her son. She says he has not had the easiest time as a student at Carbondales Colorado Rocky Mountain School. She believes that having Hayden see his mother struggle to do something new and daring with her life is making an impact.He saw me literally create this on the kitchen table, said Kennedy. When you do something like that, you see how much comes back to you. That safe zone I know thats not great for me. It doesnt make me feel alive, knowing what each day is going to bring.
Support Local Journalism
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
VAIL — The lift operator in the maze at Vail Village’s Gondola One tilts his head back and hollers: “Masks up please!”