My Recent-ish Favorite Outdoor Films

The organization I work for is hosting the 4th Annual Wild & Scenic Film Festival Truckee in a couple of weeks. I’ve been involved with WSFF since I moved to Tahoe back in 2010, and this year will be my 9th year helping to run an on tour venue. The Film Festival is one of my favorite events I get to do each year, and one of the main reasons why is that I get an excuse to watch a bunch of awesome outdoor films. Over the years, there’s been an increase of outdoor films focused on more diverse individuals. I love this! There are so many valuable stories that are missed when outdoor and adventure films only focus on super extreme white guys.

In celebration of the increasing diversity of outdoor films and because I’m so excited about our Film Festival (happening Friday April 19th at the Community Arts Center in Historic Downtown Truckee – tickets still available – click here!), I’m going to share some of my favorite outdoor films from the past few years.

Follow Through WSFF
Photo via Wild & Scenic Film Festival

1. Follow Through
People have opinions about skier Caroline Gleich: Inspirational. Gumby. Social media star. Role model. Model masquerading as a mountaineer. At sixteen, she stumbled upon a copy of the cult classic guidebook The Chuting Gallery. Irreverent and wonderfully arbitrary, the guidebook lays out a set of 90 ski mountaineering lines across Utah’s Wasatch Mountains. They were difficult and dangerous. When she first said out loud she wanted to ski them, she was met with laughter. “Maybe it was because I was five feet tall, or I was a little blonde girl, but I remember that clearly — and it didn’t feel good” says Gleich. After a decade building her skills, Gleich set out to complete her vision and become the skier she dreamt of being. “Follow Through” is a story of loss, belonging and desire for respect. In this age of hyperconnectivity, which voices do we choose to hear and which do we ignore?

2. The Mirnavator
Ultra-runners overcome obstacles on every trail. In this film, Force of Nature Mirna Valerio overcomes the negative voices that don’t believe she belongs in the sport.

Photo via Outside Online
Photo via Outside Online

3. Sacred Strides
Bears Ears National Monument is one of the most talked-about public lands under threat, though the dialogue often glosses over how sacred it is to many Native Americans. In March 2018, a group of tribes put their differences aside and came together to run 800 miles to Bears Ears – and to send a message of unity. The Sacred Strides for Healing Prayer Run wove from tribal homelands across the Southwest to Bears Ears. Watch to meet the people who are participating in the public lands conversation with their feet and learn about why this land is so important to them.

4. Super Stoked Surf Mamas of Pleasure Point
Through surfing and a love for the ocean, five women become friends. So when they all become pregnant around the same time, it is natural that the women turn to each other for support and encouragement. Ignoring people who tell them to stop surfing while pregnant, the women decide instead to listen to their own bodies and continue doing what they love — just with some extra precautions and modifications. The women in the film discuss the challenges they face as their bellies grow bigger and their wetsuits no longer fit, but also the joy of being in the water with their unborn child inside them experiencing the ocean together as one.

Photo via Snowbrains
Photo via Snowbrains

5. Evolution of Dreams
What happens when the passion for your dreams fades? Do you just stop? Or do you search for what’s missing and uncover new dreams and goals? Eva and Jackie’s journeys have taken them from regulated ski courses to big mountain skiing which allowed them more freedom. Throughout that journey, they’ve discovered another aspect of skiing, ski mountaineering. In this new discipline, they have to tackle new challenges and conquer new fears. It’s their evolution of dreams.

6. RJ Ripper
Rajesh Magar has been obsessed with bikes since he was a small child growing up in Kathmandu, Nepal. When the other kids were studying, he’d be dreaming about, designing and drawing bikes. As the son of a construction worker and housemaid, however, a bike wasn’t easy to come by. Undeterred, he built one, a clunky Frankenstein, but a mountain bike nonetheless. He started racing, and his drive and raw talent got noticed, leading to a job as a mountain bike guide and a path to professional racing. Today, Nepal’s National Champion is living proof that it pays to stick to your passion, no matter how implausible it seems.

7. Brotherhood of Skiing
Since 1973, the National Brotherhood of Skiers has overcome barriers by bringing soul and smiles to the mountain. Formed during the height of the black power movement, the organization is dedicated to creating a welcoming space for people of color on the slopes and supporting black youth in snowsports. Today, the NBS hosts the largest gathering of black skiers in the United States and represents 53 ski clubs with over 3,000 members across the country.

Photo via Wild & Scenic Film Festival

8. Where the Wild Things Play
Friday night at the local watering hole and … where the ladies at? Answer: BASE jumping from high desert cliffs, performing tricks on slacklines, climbing granite routes, shredding singletrack, skiing backcountry lines and generally leaving you fellas behind. This rowdy ode to female athletes by Krystle Wright leaves no doubt about the state of women in today’s outdoor world: badass.

9. SHIFT
SHIFT is a half-hour documentary about the indigenous youth from Carcross, Yukon who have spent the past 10 years converting traditional trails around their town in to a world-class mountain biking destination — and transforming their community and themselves along the way.

Photo via Inspire Film Festival
Photo via Inspire Film Festival

10. For the Love of Mary
The first time 97-year-old runner George Etzweiler completed the race up the northeast’s tallest peak, Mount Washington, he was 69 years old. Despite having a pacemaker, the State College, Pennsylvania resident continues to compete in the grueling 7.6-mile race up nearly 4,700 feet of paved road, breaking his own record each year for oldest finisher. In addition to his ancient, lucky, green running shorts, Etzweiler carries something else special with him: The memory of his late wife of 68 years, Mary.

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