“Huge thanks to all the people of Nelson,” reads a title card at the end of “Imagination”, one of the killer shorts playing at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival’s annual Fall Series. “Especially the ones who let us jump off your houses.”
You could imagine that city planners down in the Kootenays were pretty drunk on the outdoor life as Nelson evolved into what we see here, which is an enormous urban playground for Whistler-based filmmaker Dave Mossop and the artists’ collective Sherpas Cinema.
As two parents bicker in the front seat of a wood-panelled station wagon (“I have priorities too; I understand priorities…”), their bored son imagines a companion for their journey in the shape of genius freeskier Tom Wallisch, the man who holds the record for the longest rail grind—an insane 424 feet.
Wallisch traverses the mountainside community through a seamless combination of parkour and freestyling, hitting a dizzying number of landmarks (hello, Roxanne fire station!) via a lot of conveniently placed flatbeds, overturned garbage cans, and all those rooftops. It ends with an ecstatic vision of South Nelson elementary buzzing with airborne skiers and wide-eyed kids—all of it set to the Avalanches’ rapturous “Because I’m Me”.
This small masterpiece of pacing and cutting screens at the Rio Theatre Wednesday (November 8) as part of the VIMFF’s Ski Show 1, followed by another effort by the Sherpas, this one directed by Nelsonite Eric Crosland, who pitched in with camerawork on “Imagination”.
“Tsirku” captures the gruelling 60-kilometre snowmobile route from base camp at Haines Pass to the peak named Corrugated and the glacier of the title that spans the B.C. and Alaska border. “The most unique mountain I’ve ever seen,” skier Hadley Hammer puts it as we eyeball breathtaking aerial shots of the uncanny curtains of snow that drape the monolith like a Lawren Harris painting.
As if that’s not enough, Ski Show 1 is headlined by a visit from Sylvain Saudan, the Swiss “pioneer of extreme skiing”, who comes to Vancouver at 81 years young with two films about his adventures on the Grandes Jorasses and Denali.
The full program for this year’s VIMFF Fall Series includes a second Ski Show at North Vancouver’s Centennial Theatre next Thursday (November 9), this one featuring the premiere of Coast Mountain Epic, a multimedia presentation chronicling the almost six-month-long traverse of the Coast Mountains by Invermere’s mother-daughter team of, respectively, Tania and Martina Halik. They will be in attendance for a program rounded out by four shorts, including “The Curve of Time”, a gripping film essay on climate change featuring pro skiers Chris Rubens and Greg Hill and directed by North Van’s Jordan Manley.
Stretched across the entire festival at both venues, the Reel Rock 12 program brings five shorts premieres to Vancouver and a notable emphasis on the distaff side of climbing. “Break on Through” captures 19-year-old Margo Hayes’s efforts to achieve a “5.15” (the highest-difficulty grade in the sport), while one-armed climber Maureen Beck aces a 5.12, among other feats, in the wryly titled “Stumped”.
The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Fall Series takes place Tuesday (November 7) to Friday (November 10). More information is at www.vimff.org/.