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5Point Film Festival Preview: Redefining Adventure and Community

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5Point Film Festival director Sarah Wood (left) and the team prepare for the April 2013 event; Photograph courtesy 5Point Film Festival

The 5Point Film Festival running April 25 to 28 in Carbondale, Colorado, kicks off the adventure film festival season and sets the stage for the rest of the year. By presenting a wide range of movies that push the definition of adventure, the film festival aims to inspire the community—young and old, and of all ability levels—to define what their own next adventure might be. Unlike other film festivals, 5Point has one venue and one evening program, so movie goers have a shared experience. Then during the day, the festival attendees explore the adventure playground of Carbondale, Colorado.

Previously with the American Alpine Club, new executive director Sarah Wood brings much experience and energy of her own to the festival now in its 6th year. Here she tells us why 5Point is unique, what shapes her vision, and about a few exciting new films.

James Mills: How does film help to tell the stories of the adventure community? What role do you think 5Point plays in sharing those stories?

Sarah Wood: I think 5Point is less about focusing on what kind of story it is, but that it’s a great story. I think you’ll recognize that not every story is about kayaking or climbing or mountaineering or adventure in the typical definition. We’re about telling inspirational stories, and lot of times that does happen in the outdoors and beautiful remote places. But sometimes it can happen in your backyard. Sometimes it can happen in unexpected places. We like to find and show those stories as well at the festival.

Film has a unique way of drawing a person into a story in such a different way than a written piece or a spoken piece can do. They can be equally as powerful, but I think that with film you’re able to put yourself into someone else’s shoes in a different way. And we hope to allow people to do that … and maybe recognize that piece of themselves in these stories. Film is such a powerful tool in that way.

JM: There are a lot of adventure film festivals out there. How is 5Point different in your opinion?

SW: 5Point is different in a couple of ways. We have just one venue and program, and you’re either in it or you’re not. It’s everyone coming together in one shared experience, and I think that’s something that we really value. I don’t think it is, I know it is! That experience together creates a much more powerful energy than we feel it does when you separate people. So we take that philosophy to how we allow our audience and our filmmakers and the athletes and the community to really come together and share in that experience. There are very few boundaries between the special guests and the audience. And we really encourage that. We feel the best experience at 5Point is when you leave having met new people and hearing these amazing stories you find that it’s not just happening on the screen. It’s happening in conversation over dinner or at the coffee shop in the morning. And also just giving people the opportunity to enjoy the place.

Carbondale is a really special little paradise, and we want people to get out and enjoy it while they’re here, whether it’s just walking down Main Street or hiking up Red Hill or going for a backcountry ski in the morning, if there’s still some snow around after all this warm weather. But that’s part of the experience as well.

JM: Tell us about the program for 2013. What we can we expect that might be new or dramatically different from last year.

SW: I think we continue to explore our definition of adventure. And I think that’s something that we really want our audience to do for themselves. What we’re very, very excited about are a couple of pieces that we have helped produce. One of those things is by Duct Tape and Then Beer, Fitz Cahall’s production company. He did a piece on Kyle Dempster and his story of his biking adventure and climbing adventure. That’s going to be a world premiere at 5Point, and Kyle is going to be here to talk about his philosophy on life and the story behind the film—we’re really excited about that piece.

Another piece that we’re putting together is with 5Point favorite Jeremy Collins and a local bike racer and coffee shop owner here in Carbondale. We’ve put them together for a unique piece called Participate. In some ways that’s going to be a surprise to us as well because we’ve given them some direction, and they’ve had some great ideas—they’re running with it right now. But it’s not finished so we’re excited to premiere it at 5Point.

I would say that there are a couple of other pieces that are surprises to us. There’s a break-dancing piece that is totally off what people might expect. But the story is very much 5Point, very much about humility and respect. It’s called With a Piece of Chalk.

We’ve got some local films, too. We had a local photographer named Summers Moore who came to the festival last year. As a mother she brought her kids and was just fully inspired to help other kids around the valley create films that are 5Point films. She works with a Monastery school in a couple of classrooms with kids between 4th to 8th grades. They made some short films and they’re finishing the edit right now. We’re really excited to showcase those in our kids program, and hope to have people in the audience who are in the films. I know these kids are going to be totally psyched about that.

JM: So what are your goals for the future of 5Point? 

SW: 5Point is very much about the community we’re in, and we feel that if we are to do something outside of this community we need to be doing that within and a part of that community. And so when we think about our growth we’re challenged here in terms of the event itself, but we’re not necessarily challenged in the other things that we can do around the valley. We do have our Dream Project scholarship. That program has really grown as well, whether we add another scholarship to the group here or if we reach into other communities around the state. Right now the Dream Project scholarship is open to the entire valley, and we go to each school and present to them the project and let them decide how they want to apply and what projects they want to do over the summer. We have five great projects this year but we do see that as an area for growth.

But in terms of the experience and the organization of events, we’re not sure what direction that’s going to take. But we do feel we’d like to see it take a direction that’s not a typical tour as we’ve experience with some of the other players in the space. We like the idea of taking our programming and working with a community and building a one-night kind of “Taste of 5Point” somewhere and seeing how that community can grow that event. So we think our growth is going be slow, pretty steady and very meticulous in the communities we choose to work with.

Check out the complete 5Point Film Festival schedule of events online

The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support of sponsors Patagonia, Rayovac, and the New Belgium Brewing Company