Even if you’ve never taken a Community Recreation class or played in a Community Rec sport like Pickle Ball, if you see the MountainFilm on Tour festival today and Saturday, director Mike Illg will count you as a recreation program user.
“I always like to look at it as one of our biggest community recreation offerings,” Illg said. “I consider everyone who buys a ticket as a participant in a Community Recreation class. Hopefully, they come away with something.”
MountainFilm shows at 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday at the Mariner Theatre. Tickets for each show are $10. At 5:30 p.m. today, there’s also a ski swap in the Homer High School Commons.
One of Homer’s recreation program's biggest fundraisers, the 14th annual MountainFilm on Tour fits right in with the spirit of Community Rec. Choosing from the annual Telluride, Colo., MountainFilm Festival, the tour showcases short documentary films about everything from extreme outdoor adventures to scientific exploration to, well, just plain fun.
“It closely correlates with the purpose and mission of Community Recreation,” Illg said. “We want citizens of Homer and the world to be inspired about doing incredible things and enjoying that activity.”
The secret to MountainFilm on Tour’s success is in that mixture of films. Although the festival started out with films like skiers shredding remote slopes, over the years the festival has attracted documentary film makers pushing the limits on the idea of outdoor film. Just as adventurers seek out hidden and remote areas to explore, outdoor documentary films have followed them — bigger, wilder and rougher. “Cascada,” for example, goes into the Mexican jungle in search of big waterfalls for whitewater kayakers to tumble down, while “Kunye” heads to the grasslands of Spioenkop, South Africa, for the first world championship single-speed mountain bike race held in Africa.
A film might show a skier in beautiful wilderness backcountry, but as in “Strong,” director Fitz Cahall adds a twist. It’s about Roger Strong, a skier badly injured in an avalanche, who returns to the couloir that almost killed him.
Other films combine extreme sports with an environmental message. In “Nord for Sola (North of the Sun),” two surfers go to a remote Norwegian arctic beach to try undiscovered waves and clean up a garbage-filled beach.
MountainFilm also brings science to life, showing that heading into strange lands not just to tag mountains but tiny toads, as in “Return to the Tepuis,” about biologist Bruce Means and his exploration of remote habitat in Guyana, South America. OK, it’s a climbing movie, too, as Means ascends a sheer cliff to do so. In “Paradise Found,” two scientists document the strange and marvelous 39 species of birds of paradise that live in Papua New Guinea.
As in “Strong,” some of this weekend’s films focus on the personalities — really strong personalities — of extreme athletes. There’s mountain bike jumper Andreu Lacondeguy at his training camp in Barcelona, Spain, in “Lacon de Catalonia,” and “Kilian Martin: Altered Route” about skateboarder Kilian Martin.
The festival even includes some films that are really music videos. In “Django Django: ‘Wor,’” the band Django Django performs their song “Wor” to video of the Wall of Death motorcycle riders of Allahabad, India. “Je Veux” is an appreciation of French singer Zaz in which mountain climbers help her fulfill a dream: performing at the top of Mont Blanc.
Illg said he hasn’t seen any of the films and trusts the tour organizers to put together a great list always full of gems.
“I like the element of surprise,” he said. “I feel like when Telluride comes in, it’s like finding the prize in the cereal box.”
For a full list of the films and descriptions, visit www.mountainfilm.org/tour/film.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.
5:30 p.m., Thursday
Homer High School Commons
Mountainfilm on tour
7 p.m., Thursday, Saturday
$10 each show
Tickets on sale at the Homer Bookstore and the Community Rec office
Lacon de Catalonia
Return to the Tepuis
Keeper of the Mountains
The Scared is Sacred
Honor the Treaties
Django Django “Wor”
Split of a Second
Nord for Sola