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Cliff Hanger

film_farleyclimbBanff Mountain Film Festival unleashes daring movies at the Rio Theatre

Go climb a rock. Or at least watch a movie about people who climb rocks, and put their lives at risk for fun, by catching the Banff Mountain Film Festival at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 and 27 at the Rio Theatre. The thrill ride of a festival is back once again to woo adventurers with a series of short films that are inspiring, jaw-dropping, and feature feats that are beyond your imagination. Sporting a fantastic lineup of films, two of the ‘scene stealers’ are the films Finding Farley and First Ascent: The Impossible Climb. The latter stars Santa Cruz’s own spectacular rock climber Chris Sharma, who scales perhaps the world’s most difficult rock climb, and Finding Farley explores the aquatic journey of a couple, their toddler, and their dog as they travel down bodies of water in search of a legendary writer who did a similar trip long ago. Here’s a quick run-down of these two highlighted films.

First Ascent: The Impossible Climb.

24 mins, directed by Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, and Josh Lowell. Starring Chris Sharma.

If you’ve lived in Santa Cruz for any amount of time, by now you’ve heard of legendary superstar rock climber, Chris Sharma, a young man who hails from our town and has gone on to achieve enormous success in the world of rock climbing. In First Ascent: The Impossible Climb, the film follows Sharma as he decides to tackle what’s being deemed “the most difficult rock climb in the world.” Granted, Sharma has been called the world’s best rock climber, so the match would seemingly be perfect. But even for an expert, there are some climbs that are just impossible. And that’s the case for the challenge he takes on with a “90-metre limestone cave on Mount Clark, Calif.” This never-before-climbed mountain sits at the California/Nevada border, and appears to be a sheer cliff. Yet Sharma takes it on with confidence, humility, and a whole lot of screaming (that’s his style as he scales rocks).

The movie puts us right there with Sharma as he travels deep into the rural land, and along a one-hour straight uphill hike to finally discover the limestone cliff. With his bulging arm muscles and lithe frame, Sharma begins the ascent, but he continually finds a specific challenging area where he keeps falling. We see him dangling there, barely holding on, then slipping, falling, and dangling where his rope catches him. He tries to ascend, again and again. Eventually, realizing that it’s not happening quite yet, he returns to Spain, where he lives much of the time these days, with his girlfriend, and begins strength training there for this “impossible climb” at Mount Clark. Here, we get a glimpse into the personal life of the famous Sharma, and what makes him tick—love and rock climbing.

Eventually, Sharma makes it back to California to tackle Mount Clark again, and what filmgoers see is a man who could challenge Spiderman any day. With numerous attempts, he eventually makes it up the great wall. And we are once again reminded of why Chris Sharma is Santa Cruz’s—and the world’s—best rock climber.
First Ascent: The Impossible Climb plays at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Rio Theatre, along with the following short films: Revolution One; Azazel; Take a Seat; Africa Revolutions Tour; and The Ultimate Skiing Showdown.


Finding Farley

63 minutes. Directed by Leanne Allison. Starring Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer.

In this heartwarming, award-winning movie, you’ll surely sink into the depths of nature, travel, family and literature. Finding Farley is a lovely narrative film, looking more like a “story” than a typical talking-head documentary. The film stars real-life couple Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer, along with their 2-year-old toddler, Zev, and dog, Willow. The foursome set out on an adventure to find Canadian adventurer and nature author Farley Mowat. This author, whom they strive to find in Nova Scotia, is known for his books “Never Cry Wolf,” “A Whale for the Killing,” “People of the Deer” and many others.

The husband/wife filmmakers decide to take a journey based on the tales told in Mowat’s books. They cross rivers, sail the ocean, take a train, battle bugs, cook up grub outside, watch elk and bear meander around, and even run into a polar bear at one point.

It’s a gripping tale about a family who crosses 5,000 kilometers in an adventure together, all the while writing letters to Mowat about what they’re discovering, and how they look forward to meeting him at the end of their journey. The story will be alluring to anyone who’s ever wanted to free themselves from an office cubicle and see what an unrestricted life looks like. It’s inspiring, daring and motivating.

Finding Farley plays at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 26 at the Rio Theatre, along with the following films: Kranked—Revolve, Deep/Shinsetsu; MedeoZ; Mustang—Journey of Transformation; and First Ascent: Alone on the Wall.


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