Adventure Film Festival Reviews


I attended both nights of the Adventure Film Festival in Asheville, and it was a great event all the way around. Asheville Pizza & Brewing is a perfect venue, the organizers were ready to roll, and sponsors put together some great raffles. Morgan and I went on night 1, and I attended solo on night 2 (Mo was working). The raffles were extra special because I won a great prize pack from Deuter, La Sportiva, and Black Diamond. Main sponsor for the event was Patagonia, and the festival directly benefits the Johnny Copp Foundation.

On to the films, here’s a quick review of each one from the 1st night.

Dark Side of the Lens

Darkside Of The Lens from mickey smith on Vimeo.

Great short surfing film. Beautifully shot, the cinematography is brilliant. Mickey Smith does a great job telling his story of living a creative life outdoors. Most powerful parts of the movie are him talking about the ways his body has been broken, the challenges of doing this work, and ultimately making your life about something you love. The best quote was “If I end up living long enough, I’ll have a good story or two for the nephews”.

Anirniq “Breathe”

Anirniq – (Breath) from Brüdder on Vimeo.

Another beautifully shot film, about a man on a Narwhal hunt, and recollecting the experience of his first hunt as a young boy, during which his Father was killed. Dialogue is at a minimum here, but the images tell the story well enough. Good lessons on confronting your past, the existence of the spirit, and the connectedness of the world.

23 Feet: A thought-provoking film about 3 young women who make the conscious choice to fit their possessions and lives in to a 23 foot Airstream trailer, and travel around the country. The main premise is to pursue the things and places you love doing and being in, living simply enough that “stuff” doesn’t tie you down. Several interviews with people living simply and off-the-grid, doing the things they love. One guy, living in King’s Canyon NP, makes the observation that the challenge of living off the grid and travelling extensively is that it’s quite lonely, and difficult to establish a sense of community that we all yearn for. For me, finding that balance of wanderlust and community is a difficult thing for most people, especially those of us that love the outdoors.

Truck Farm: A whimsical but serious look at how and where we grow our food. Ian Cheney decides to make his 1986 Dodge pickup in to a (very) small farm, and grows all kinds of herbs and vegetables in the truck bed. He also interviews and explores several other types of alternative farming, on roofs, barges, and windows. A very interesting take on our current food crisis, how our food is transported, and the standard American “diet”. Ian and his team do a great job, and the music is phenomenal. Worth a watch.

Dog Boarding

Dogboarding from DANIELS on Vimeo.

A very short, extremely fun film from Daniel Kwan. Dogs as skateboards. That is all. Go watch it.

Towers of the Ennedi


Towers of the Ennedi from Camp 4 Collective on Vimeo.

Beautifully filmed, animated, and edited by the talented folk at the Camp 4 Collective (I’ve linked their work before). The story of the fabled climbing routes in the deserts of Chad, Africa. The mental state of the climbers as they drive across miles of desert to arrive at their destination, and then the work/fun begins. Fantastic climbing footage and animation bring the area to life, just jaw-dropping routes and scenery in the middle of the frickin’ desert. Continues to remind me of all the places in the world that have evaded our grasp, even now. It’s also a good metaphor that even in the midst of what we feel is nothing, just worthless, that there is something to be learned and enjoyed in our own personal deserts.

Real SkiFi (videos after the jump): Enjoyable film about Finnish youths doing what they love, skiing! Wherever they are, they make it happen. A lesson that while we pine for the epic adventure far away, there is a lot of fun to be had in our own backyards if we’re creative and open to it.

Way Back Home (excerpt after jump): Danny MacAskill is one of the premier stunt bike riders in the world, and the tricks he pulls are mind-blowing. The film follows him from Edinburgh back to his boyhood home in Dunvegan on the Isle of Skye. Beautiful scenery, crazy tricks, and a good storyline about going back home. There’s a good scene at the beginning where Danny is struggling mentally to get a trick going, his first one of the film! He had been injured for a while, and really has to get himself pumped up for the trick, even though he is the best! It’s an important reminder that we really have to let ourselves be open for the opportunity whenever it presents itself.

Summer Snapshot

Summer Snapshot (Trailer) from Ian McCluskey on Vimeo.

A fun little film, my least favorite of the bunch though. Shot as an 8mm home movie from the 70’s, the film remembers what it was like to be free, untethered, and in the wild. All things we can relate to, but there wasn’t much adventure to it. Didn’t speak to me, it was a bunch of young ‘uns drinking and skinny-dipping, and I’m all for that, but it felt out of place at the festival. Was very mellow and laid back, nostalgic, and it seemed to me that was shot so that people could look back and remember what they thought were the days of their lives. I guess part of me doesn’t like living in the past and remembering all the “good times”, while to me is comparatively saying that the present is a disappointment. Maybe I’m just being a 28 year old buzzkill, but hell it’s my review.

Chimera: This film is total ski porn. I enjoyed it because I enjoy slick editing, mountains, and tricks, with slo-mo thrown in. It is very cool, but not as thought-provoking or intriguing as some of the other films. I don’t really know what else to say because there’s not much dialogue, or a plot, just the premise that it would be great if every day was a great powder day and you were incredibly talented, with access to helicopters to fly you in to places.

Mr Happy Man

This was a great film to end the night on. It’s a story about Johnny Barnes, who has been at the busiest intersection in Bermuda from 6-10 am nearly every day for over 20 years. What does he do? He waves, blows kisses, and says “I love you, have a beautiful day!” This has made him the most beloved person in Bermuda, as he brightens the day of so many people on the island. In his interviews he says that he truly does love all these people, and that we should love everyone. “If we loved each other, we could have peace, there would be no more wars, and we would share.” There are several other interviews with locals who express their love for Johnny, and the joy he brings them. He ultimately challenges people to live their lives with hope and joy, and to pass that on to others. It was humorous, inspiring, and fun.

So, that was the rundown from the 1st night, sometime this weekend I’ll post reviews of the 2nd night of films. Thanks again to the AFF for coming to our fair city!

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One thought on “Adventure Film Festival Reviews

  1. Pingback: Adventure Film Festival Reviews 2 | The Journey

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