In our own Backyard

Story last updated at 4:36 PM on Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mountainfilm: Armchair adventure

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

All your Facebook buddies might be posting photos of themselves surfing in Maui and you might think you're the only one left in Homer. You're not, of course. Lots of us remain in town enduring icy streets and erratic weather. Pity your poor friends not in town next week. They're going to miss the Telluride MountainFilm on Tour festival.


Photo provided

Climber Alan Gordon explores the retreating Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau in "Blue Obsession."

Homer Community Recreation's annual event that cheers up the town with two nights of documentary films, MountainFilm shows at 7 p.m. Jan. 24 and Jan.26 at the Mariner Theatre, with admission $10 each night. MountainFilm on Tour pulls films from the film festival held each year in Telluride, Colo. While jaw dropping, high energy adventure films bring some flash to the festival, it's also one that has become known for quirky little films that often are humorous, sometimes enlightening and always entertaining. For every film of skiers roaring down fresh powder there might be a look at some aspect of an exotic culture or an environmental film challenging us to think in new ways.

Community Recreation Coordinator Mike Illg said he trusted the tour organizers to come up with a good list.

"They're the ones who are most familiar with what's cool and what's not cool," he said. "I did request some diversity. I didn't want all adrenaline, nor did I want to pump out something with an environmental theme."

Adventure films include shorts like "Code Red," about surfers in Tahiti who surf breaks shut down by the authorities that they see not as a risk but an opportunity. "Last Light" films skiers in Haines during that magical last hour of winter daylight. "Outside the Box" should frighten those scared of heights by looking at climbers who have no fear.

Other films combine adventure with a message, like "The Freedom Chair," about a skier who pushes his limits when an accident paralyzes him. Films with an environmental message include "Living Tiny," which explores our obsession with stuff and is about people who live in 200-square-foot homes.

A film that fits in with Community Recreation's mission of getting people to be active and healthy is "Right to Play," Illg said. The tour director recommended the film about a Norwegian Olympic gold medalist who uses his drive and dedication to make a difference in the lives of some of the world's most vulnerable and victimized children.

While other film festivals like the Homer Documentary Film Festival bring equally interesting films to town, Illg said MountainFilm brings a selection that's varied in subject and theme as much as in length. Some films run just a few minutes while others are 45 minutes long.

"It really gets people fired up about life in general and gives them a new perspective on things that are happening in the world," Illg said.

Proceeds from the festival support Community Recreation programs. The play list for each night is different, with no repeats. MountainFilm presenter Karla Brown will be on hand to introduce and discuss the films.

A ski and winter gear swap also is held at

5:30 p.m. the first night of the show on

Jan. 24.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at

Telluride MountainFilm On Tour

Homer Community Recreation

Tickets: $10 person per show

Mariner Theatre

7 p.m. Jan. 24, Jan. 26

5:30 p.m. Jan. 24, ski-winter gear swap

Play Lists

Thursday, 7 p.m. Jan. 24

Outside the Box: Two climbers training with legendary climber Lynn Hill learn about climbing "outside the box."

The Love Connection: Who can generate the most neurochemical activity in Stanford University's first-ever love competition?

Living Tiny: "People like having lots of stuff, Americans in particular," says one of the characters in the this documentary. Some Americans have rejected the idea that "bigger is better" and living in homes no bigger than 200 square feet.

Code Red: In August 2011, Tahiti was hit with a massive swell that created 20-foot-plus waves and forced the authorities to declare "code red," which shut down Teahupoo to surfing — but not for everyone.

Man Who Lived on His Bike: Guillaume Blanchet explores the question not just of what you can do on a bike, what you can't do.

Island: Two women on a canoe trip on the River Shannon in Ireland witness a gathering of starlings — a "murmuration" —so phenomenal and surreal that it's almost poetry in motion.

Right to Play: Norwegian Olympic speed-skating gold medalist Johann Olav Koss takes his determination and focus to make a difference in the lives of some of the planet's most vulnerable and victimized children.

All.I.Can: Auclair Street Segment: In a segment from the movie All.I.Can, skier JP Auclair tackles the mean streets of British Columbia on skis.

Saturday, 7 p.m. Jan. 26

The Nomad: Traveling by foot, skis and kayak, Erik Boomer moves through the world and his life in a way few others do.

Julio Solis: A man who saws the decline of turtles in Magdalena Bay in Baja, Mexico, dedicates himself to conservation of the reptiles.

The Freedom Chair: After becoming paralyzed in a ski accident, free skier Josh Dueck refocused his passion into sit-skiing, and the experience allowed him to jump-start a new career and find a new way to do what he loves the best.

Moonwalk: Slackliner Dean Potter walks the high wire across a desert landscape with a massive full moon as his backdrop.

Last Light: Shot entirely during the "magic hour" at the end of the day, cinematographer Ben Sturgulewski shows a self-powered, all-you-can-shred spine buffett in Haines, Alaska.

The Way Home: Returning to the National Parks: "You shouldn't have to convince people to go to paradise," says Yosemite National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson. As an African American, he is unsettled by the fact that only 1 percent of those who visit Yosemite share his race. The films follows the brief journey of a group of African American seniors from Los Angeles as they experience the park.

Blue Obsession: The Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau offers an otherworldly landscape that's also ephemeral and changing as the glacier retreat. Climber Alan Gordon documents its stunning but fleeting scenery before it disappears forever.

Song of the Spindle: "I think humans could really learn something from us whales," says one of the two characters in this animated short that imagines a whimsical conversation between a sperm whale and a man.

Into Thick Air: The Seven Summits are a legendary accomplishment for alpinists, but when they're the highest peaks in seven Midwestern states, the achievement is a bit different.

Racing the End: Bike racing in Los Angeles? There are too many cars. This may be the illest road race on the planet.

Sketchy Andy: Andy Lewis, a.k.a. Sketchy Andy was the guy on the slackline who almost stole the show from Madonna during a Super Bowl halftime show..

Industrial Revolutions: Trick ride Danny MacAskill is back to show what he can on a trails bike, whether it be on the streets of Dunvegan, Scotland, or in an abandoned industrial train yard.