Dreams & Inspiration at 5Point Film Festival

It’s hard to believe it’s been a week since the tribe descended on Carbondale for the 4th annual 5Point Film Festival. Each year has built on the successes of the previous festivals, and this year was hands down the strongest effort to date. Every night I was blown away by the quality of the films, as I was continually inspired and motivated, while being taken to places far and wide. From local rivers to deserts on the other side of the world, we saw and experienced it all.

5Point strives to tell the human side of the story, and steers clear of the straight action flick, which does little besides raising our heart rates a bit. Instead we see the range of human emotions, from the guy that struggles with being on the other side of the world from his pregnant wife, to a father who hopes to pass on the knowledge he has gained to his young son. The festival as whole emphasizes the fact that we are all capable of creating incredible beauty and inspiration in a world that so often seems lacking in both.

Below are my thoughts on the climbing specific films that were shown, for reviews of some of the other films, check out here, here and here.

Life of Leo was a short but poignant look at a day in the life of a Cuban boy who spends his mornings working the family farm, and then heads to the local crag for the afternoon even though it is illegal to do so and he could be harassed by the police or even arrested for it. We get a glimpse into his hopes and dreams for climbing, all beautifully shot and edited into a concise story. Despite it’s simplicity, it speaks to the power of our dreams, those things we hold dear, and how we’ll strive to make them real no matter how hard we have to work for it.

The first time I saw the Swiss Machine on the Reel Rock Tour, I wasn’t impressed. Big deal that some self absorbed Euro can race up mountains really fast. This time around, however, I enjoyed it more so as an interesting story of how far we are willing to push ourselves to attain our goals. The section involving Alex Honnold was particularly entertaining, and gives some telling insight into Ueli Steck’s character when a guy like Alex thinks that he is way out on the edge. Overall it’s a compelling story of pushing your personal limits that everyone can relate to, whether you are gearing up for El Cap in a day, or just bought your first shoes and harness.

Towers of the Ennedi took us to a remote region of Chad, with a crew set on exploring desert towers similar to those found in the southwestern part of the United States. Mark Synnott is the ring leader, and he lays out what motivates him to explore the unknown, and why it keeps drawing him back year after year. A truly masterful work of art that showcases the beauty of chasing adventure, no matter where it leads you.

COLD chronicled a team that became the first to summit Gasherbrum II in winter, giving us a raw look at the twisted world of high altitude alpinism. The suffering, the uncertainty and the danger all jumped off the screen like we were there with the climbers, sitting in a tent above 20,000 feet on a minus 50 degree night. There was no glory on the summit, just one of them puking his guts out, with the weight of a treacherous descent weighing heavy on all of them. We see Cory Richards crying into the camera after narrowly escaping a big avalanche, which spoke more than words ever could about the perils faced on this quest into the unknown. This film had a raw honesty and power not often presented in climbing media, providing a rare glimpse into the struggles that take place on the tallest mountains in the world.

And then there was the Wolf and the Medallion, by well known climber and artist Jeremy Collins. How do you even describe this in words? Billed as a performance art piece, it featured a film segment with music that was performed live, as well as a live art component that tied the whole piece together. It was rooted in a climbing trip Jeremy took to China, where he experienced the low of getting stormed off a wall and the high of completing a new route in perfect conditions. On the summit, he composed a letter to his four year old son, and these themes wove the tapestry of the film.

He warns his son that the wolves of complacency and apathy are continually on the prowl, ready to devour all that stand in their path, and we are the rabbit that must out run and out smart them throughout our lives. Through a moving crescendo of music and emotion, he gives his young son advice for living, things he hopes and dreams will put him on path to find his life’s passion and make a positive impact in this world. If you weren’t inspired by the end of this piece, you probably weren’t awake. Truly one of the most moving things I’ve seen in my life, thank you Jeremy for creating this incredible work of art.

The other climbing films I enjoyed were the Love Letter, a touching story of a husband and wife getting back to their roots on a climbing trek through the Sierra, and On Assignment, which chronicled Jimmy Chin working as a photographer in Yosemite, capturing the world’s best climbers in the world’s most storied climbing area.

In a world and a sport that seem overly obsessed with accomplishments for their own sake, it was a refreshing change of pace to spend four days witnessing the things that we can all relate to, the hopes and fears, the dreams and the failures that we all face. It’s the connections between all of us that make life worth living, and I stepped away from 5Point feeling more connected to both my friends in the room, and the greater world at large.

In the end, 5Point continues to gather a sincere group of individuals, who love what they do, and love sharing that with others in order to inspire the dreams within us all.

4 Responses to Dreams & Inspiration at 5Point Film Festival

  1. Good overview BJ, thanks for the read! Interesting how your take on Swiss Machine changed. Did you see different cuts? I’d agree that the thrust could be easily changed by the editing and directing. The film inspired me, even though I knew much of the climbing was not filmed during the actual speed ascent, and that it did have that “self absorbed euro” aspect. I kind of took it as an art film more than a documentary. Agree, the part with Alex was great. Plus, rather jaw dropping to an ancient El Cap veteran such as myself.

    Most of us were most certainly blown away by Jeremy! Myself included. The question now is how “Wolf” can eventually be ported to DVD so more people can enjoy it. Or perhaps such performance art is simply not for mass consumption?


    Lou May 9, 2011 at 4:33 pm
    • Lou – Not sure why I liked it more the second time around, maybe because the first time it was paired with Fly or Die, which as you know from our conversation, I do not care for at all. Perhaps it was just too much to see that and then Swiss Machine right after. As a standalone, I liked it much better.

      I had the same thought about Wolf and the Medallion, how do you share that with people? How can you? Certainly it wouldn’t have the same magic as the live performance. But maybe it’s still worth sharing anyway?

      BJ Sbarra May 9, 2011 at 8:15 pm
  2. Pingback: 5Point Faves: Skateistan & Poett : Splitter Choss

  3. Pingback: 5Point Faves: The Love Letter : Splitter Choss

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