TELLURIDE – Mountainfilm makes us think. In the past, the festival has taken on heady issues like food production and extinction, and this year – activism. The films and presentations inspire, shock and anger. And, in the middle of it all, we need a break. That’s when we head to the Adrenaline Program.
This year’s Adrenaline show will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday night (May 28), and for the first time take place at a new Mountainfilm open-air venue tagged as Base Camp (aka Town Park). No one will be turned away due to a sold-out theater; there’s plenty of room, and it’s free.
The Adrenaline Program is pure fun. This series of shorter films celebrate sport and exploration, and have included shots of big lines, big waves and big adventure – all on the big screen. This year’s films promise to offer the same adventure, and a whole lot more.
Mountainfilm Director, David Holbrooke, turned over the reigns of the 2011 Adrenaline Program to Festival Producer Stash Wislocki and filmmaker and cinematographer Ben Knight. Holbrooke confided that, “For three years, I’ve been putting together Adrenaline and never nailed it. It was time to try a different presentation.” He explained that the entire adrenaline genre has been revolutionized with new media outlets like You Tube and Vimio and with sleeker, easier-to-travel-with high-definition-cameras. There’s simply just a lot more material in a lot more places.
Wislocki expressed similar sentiments. “It used to be the only place you could see these type of films was at a festival,” he said. “Now you can see them anywhere…the Weather Channel, You Tube. It was hard to keep it [Adrenaline at Mountainfilm] current.”
To that end, in selecting this year’s films Wislocki and Knight scoured the Internet, networked with friends, and combed submissions. Inspired by the first film they picked, the two agreed on a few seemingly simple standards for the rest.
“Ben sent me Dark Side of the Lens in October,” Wislocki recalled, “and it was the catalyst that got me going. He has a really amazing eye and loves to find good stuff.” Filmed by surf photographer, Mickey Smith, Lens is an aesthetic narrative exploring the cold and powerful waves of Ireland.
Wislocki calls Dark Side “touching” and “beautiful” and is so confident in his and Knight’s vision for the Adrenaline Program, that he believes even after seeing this film 15 times over the last six months, it will still be exciting for the 16th time on the big screen in Town Park.
“We have a custom built screen and projection box,’ Wislocki said. “And, we’re putting in a huge sound system. We’re bringing in the best equipment and doing everything in true HD. We want everyone to go there and have a good time.” Add Bear Creek, Ballard and Wasatch Peaks as the backdrop, and the 16th time could be the best yet.
The films Wislocki and Knight selected promise to parallel the integrity and artistry of that backdrop. To qualify, each film had to be shot well, “not just thrown together,” and had to show a high degree of quality through the entire process, “from filming to editing to presentation.”
So, what films can we expect at Adrenaline?
According to Wislocki, there will be some unknown shorts, and a feature (for this genre that means about 35-45 minutes) that he says you may have seen, but was done so well, he and Knight just couldn’t resist. It’s called Life Cycles and its focus is mountain biking.
“Life Cycles encompasses everything we’ve looked at,” Wislocki explained. “It’s driven by action, but also driven by stunning filmmaking. It’s some of the best cinematography I’ve seen in years.”
One of the short films, Berber Turns, features local Telluride alpinist and Salomon free-ski member Kim Havell with fellow Salomon athlete Chris Rubens and ski mountaineer and alpinist Kris Erickson. This David Mossop (Switchback Films) short follows the trio of skiers from the bustling Moroccan town of Marrakesh to the rural villages of the Atlas Mountains. Here they set out to ski lines in a place very few people have skied: Africa.
Like the other movies, Berber stands out for its filming and point of view. According to Havell, “[Mossop] sees a bigger picture. Even though it’s about skiing, it’s more about the cultural elements of the trip. He wanted to reflect the environment through the medium of sport.”
Blending culture, sport, and artistic cinematography, the films in the Adrenaline Program promise to inspire and offer viewers a lighter side of Mountainfilm. Wislocki hopes the new venue will also offer a ceiling of starry, clear skies. “Adrenaline is fun and light,” Wislocki said. “This year it’ll only be more fun. It may be cold, but it’ll be fun.”
And, for the sake of the Adrenaline viewers, let’s hope dry.
For a complete list of films in the Adrenaline Program, see the Mountainfilm program guide.