The Mountainfilm on Tour Film Festival visited Springfield College Monday night at the Fuller Arts Center and featured nine films focusing on extreme adventure sports around the globe.
The films ranged from adrenaline-thrilling truth tales of death-defying extremists, to more relaxed parodies of social issues and comic shorts.
In 1979, the festival started as a climbers’ festival. Everyone would go climbing during the day and come back and watch films in the evening. Within the last 10 years, it has become a festival of all adventure sports in an attempt to inspire others.
“The content is still adrenaline-based,” said presenter Drew Ludwig. “It gets to the core of that emotion, which is the inspiration.”
The first film was one of the more popular ones, entitled Sketchy Andy, who is a professional slackliner.
Slacklining is used to practice balance and is a lot like tightrope walking. The film’s star, Andy Lewis, has taken slacklining to new heights, figuratively and literally. Lewis is creative with flips and tricks, while also slacklining thousands of feet in the air without the use of a safety harness.
In a film that made most viewers’ palms sweat, Lewis is an inspirational figure, who makes those around him seem crazy for not trying his death-defying acts.
Sketchy Andy was able to constantly find humor in Lewis’ life and within his groups, especially after thrilling moments.
Maybe the most inspirational film was Right to Play, directed by Frank Marshall, who directed Men in Black. The film centered around former Olympic gold medalist, Johann Olav Koss, a Norwegian who starred in the 1994 Olympic Games in speed skating, who donated his money and later his medical career to help the lives of the world’s most victimized children.
Koss started the foundation, Right to Play, as a way to give children the chance to play games, as he believes every child should. Koss was an ambassador for Olympic Aid before the games in 1994 and promised he would return. After raising millions of dollars for those in need, he decided to give up a future in medicine – something he dreamed about as a child – to devote his life to helping children play sports.
One of his greatest accomplishments was putting Israeli and Palestinian boys together on one soccer team to play in one of the biggest youth soccer tournaments in the world.
“A lot of people wrestle with the idea of how you turn this inspiration into action,” said Ludwig. “It’s not necessarily our duty to tell people what to do with that inspiration, we’re just here to inspire.”
While several films told very inspirational stories, others dealt a lot with the beauty of nature and individuals, who strive to seek out the most daring places in nature.
Others took the mood a different direction and brought a comic relief to the festival. The short film, Eco Ninja, centered around an office attempting to go more green by hiring a ninja to help give painful reminders to recycle. The parody film drew big laughs, but also had an underlying message of a social issue.
The parody, Into Thick Air, followed several friends attempting to climb the Seven Summits, or their version of it, which in their opinion was the highest points in the Midwestern states.
“Anytime I can share my background and what inspires me with other people, it’s a beautiful thing,” said Ludwig.
Ludwig also noted that at his events it is a typically young crowd, but was excited to have an audience that ranged in age like on Monday.
The festival was co-sponsored by the SC Outing Club.