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5Point Film Festival Award Winners Celebrate the Human Spirit

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The Nobody's River team accepts the Spirit of Adventure Award; Photograph by James Mills

The seventh annual 5Point Film Festival concluded Sunday evening to the roaring applause of an exuberant audience. Prizes went to filmmakers in six categories to honor remarkable stories that encourage viewers not to just watch but participate.

The Spirit of Adventure award recognizes those who go well outside their comfort zone to achieve an audacious goal seemingly out of reach. Stretching to ascend to the top one of the highest free solo rock climbs in history the film Alex Honnold El Sendero Luminoso from Renan Ozturk of Camp 4 Collective received a well deserved nod as runner-up in the category. The trophy went to Nobody’s River, which follows the arduous journey of four women who kayaked their way across Mongolia and Russia on one of the last free-flowing rivers in the world.

Visual imagery is the natural hallmark of any great film festival. Also from Camp 4 Collective, The Explorer, directed by Anson Fogel and featuring pioneering astronaut Buzz Aldrin, was recognized as runner-up in consideration for best in Cinematography. But top marks went to the captivating Vimeo staff pick The Revenge of the Beasts by Sebastian Linda. This beautifully shot film details in sharp relief the grace and passion that can be achieved in skateboarding.

True to the primary theme of 5Point’s seven-year run there were several films in contention for Most Inspiring. Two audience favorites were particularly compelling as both stars made an appearance that the festival. Runner-up Slo-mo introduced the audience to Dr. John Kitchin, a prominent psychiatrist who abandoned his medical career to pursue his insatiable desire to skate the boardwalk of Pacific Beach in San Diego, California, on rollerblades. But the biggest cheers went up for the winner 14.c a short film directed by George Knowles and supported the 5Point Film Fund. This story follows a few days in the life of Kai Lightner, a young man who at the age of 14 is a champion sport climber with incredible skill and ability. With the support of his mother Connie, who was also in Carbondale for this world premiere, Kai is on track to fulfill his goal of becoming one of the best competition climbers on the planet.

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14.c star Kai Lighnter (center) with mother Connie and director George Knowles; Photograph by James Mills

The prizes for Creative Excellence went to two amazing feature films cut down to size. Runner-up Into the Mind: Surf/Snowboard Segment from Sherpa Cinemas depicts the relationship between adventure athletes who play with incredible zeal through water in both its liquid and solid states. Ironically in an exact opposite expression of winters sports the winner, Valhalla: Forest Ski Segment, by Nick Waggoner and Zac Ramras of Sweetgrass Productions features a thrilling sequence of stunts shot in the evergreen woods of Mount Baker without any snow visible in the segment!

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Director Skip Armstrong accepts the jury’s “Pure Joy” award for Dream; Photograph by James Mills

In a special category meant to recognize the merits of excellent films that defy classification Dream, by director Skip Armstrong received a prize for Pure Joy. In an expression of sheer fantasy the film is a short roller coaster ride through the mind of professional kayaker Ben Marr. Complete with raging whitewater, pyrotechnics, laser blasts and a dancing Sasquatch it was adventure run wild.

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The DamNation team accepts the Best of the Festival award; Photograph by James Mills

The highlight of 5Point was the Colorado premiere of the much-anticipated film DamNation. Taking the prize for Best of the Festival this monumental feature explores the tragic history of dam building in the United States and the emerging new movement to take these massive obstructions out of commission. In a celebration of non-violent resistance to the commercial exploitation of America’s rivers filmmakers Ben Knight and Travis Rummel aim to raise awareness for the importance of reestablishing the historic natural flow of water for both the preservation of endangered species and the security of fragile ecosystems upon which humanity depends.

Exquisitely curated by executive director Sarah Wood and her production staff, the 2014 5Point Film Festival is an exceptional collection of films that dramatically illustrates the human spirit. Though each film stands alone as an excellent testament to the capacity of intrepid men and women to venture past a conventional existence plagued with boredom and mediocrity, together as a meticulously assembled whole these masterpieces offer up a shinning example of the many ecstatic experiences that are possible when we reach beyond the boundaries of our imagination.