Three B.C.-made shorts take the Mountain Film Fest into the mystic

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      The esoteric allure of outdoor and extreme adventure film is captured in three B.C.-made shorts premiering at this year’s Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.

      At the Rio Theatre next Friday (February 16), Lorraine Blancher and Robin Munshaw debut "Beyond Trails: Atacama", a concise 13-minute document of their efforts to cross the Andes from Argentina to Chile by mountainbike—an attempt that was partly thwarted (of course!) by the Andean winter among other acts of God.

      But the journey is anything but a bust, and the two filmakers—working from their 2017 MEC Adventure Grant win—commemorate their eventual success with dazzling night-time footage of the starfields spinning above their heads in the most remote parts of the Atacama desert.

      “We had reached and ridden where no bike had gone before,” says Munsher, in a voice over. “It forces you to pay attention to the terrain, listening closely for its suggestions on how to move through it. Instead of success or failure, you begin to think in terms of adaptation and forward motion.”

      Paul McSorley and Kieran Brownie are no less pragmatic when they’re forced to hunker down on the side of a monolithic granite mountain to escape the extreme temperatures of the Amazon in the 12-minute “Sweat Lodge”, screening at the Rio on Thursday (February 15).

      Plans are meant to fall apart,” we’re told. “All is well as long as it’s not you who is falling apart.”

      Inspired to visit the Amazon by the Colombian film Embrace of the Serpent, the duo fall into appropriately mystical reverie on their way toward “dancing with the gods” at the summit of one of the massive Precambrian protrusions of the Guiana Shield—and then paragliding off of it. But getting there is no picnic.

      Finally, screening alongside “Sweat Lodge”, Dave Mai’s 2017 Arc’teryx Adventure Film Grant winner “Ephemera” boasts stunning photography from the transient ice pillars of the Okanagan Valley, of all places. The fleeting nature of the terrain informs the heart of this poetic and perfectly titled short. And narration written and provided by Shane Koyczan sure doesn't hurt.

      The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival runs from February 9-17. More information here.