Radical Reels World Tour @ Kingsbury Hall

Posted March 1, 2013 in

Where the Trail Ends featured some treacherous lines for mountain cyclists.

The fast-paced and action-packed extension of the Banff Mountain Film Festival flew through SLC to close out February. Playing to a sold out crowd at the University of Utah’s Kingsbury Hall, Radical Reels showcased a variety of movies aimed at the heart of the adrenaline junkie. The Outdoor Recreation Program at the U has brought the film festival here for many years and is responsible for keeping the stoke levels at an all time high. Here are a few films that struck a chord.

Being There – The skiers of Norway have a beautiful mountain kingdom to hone their craft. Towering peaks rise up from the myriad fjords that weave through the landscape, and they provide the perfect backdrop for skiers like Tom Wallisch to send it big. Norway is a cinematographer’s dream that allows for hours of delicious light starting at about 4 a.m. Early mornings yield incredible sunrise shots that delight the senses and awake the soul. Even a dislocated shoulder won’t stop some of these dedicated individuals from practicing their technique. Traveling through their endless snowy landscapes, the riders and film crews find unique places to ski and shoot to produce this one of a kind flick.
Wingsuit Downhill Target Punch – Blurring the line between passionate pursuit and lunatic with a death wish, Alexander Polli flies through the mountains on wings of fabric and hope. As if base-jumping wasn’t enough, the sport of wingsuit proximity flying has taken over Europe. Polli and his fellow enthusiasts are determined to show the world that they are professionals chasing down perfection rather than mentally unstable thrill-billies. To illustrate their point, the crew sets up a target in the middle of a field. The objective will be to soar past the target and karate chop the top of it off while flying at speeds over 100 miles per hour. Careening down the mountainsides and over lush forests toward the meadow, Polli’s focus is unmatched. In the next split second, the top of the target is gone. High-speed cameras show the unbelievable truth. In a sport where minute movements mean the difference between life and death, these guys have it dialed. It truly looks like one of the most fun things any human could ever do. Just remember: They are pros.
Of Souls + Water: The Shapeshifter – High water in Quebec means that spring has arrived and it is time to play. World-renowned kayker Ben Marr travels to the Northern rivers and displays his skill and prowess amid the raging torrent. Rodeo kayaking is a sport that combines precision maneuvering and incredible athletic talent. Flips and spins through the churning waves allow the paddler to remain in one spot for extended periods of time. The activity is already quite visually stimulating, but these filmmakers found a way to take it to a celestial level. Marr decides to strap an ultra-bright flare to the back of his boat and takes on the river at night. The cinematographers then strap a $100-thousand dollar camera to a crane and follow his journey through the water. Splashes and flashes of red-orange light bubble up from the murky water and silhouette Marr as if he is moving through some sort of lava. This movie is a terrific blend of enthusiasm and creativity that leaves the audience spellbound.
La Dura Dura – Over the course of the last 15 years, Chris Sharma has become a literal rock star. He took the climbing world by storm and has secured his niche as the planet’s best sport climber. Residing in the hills of Spain, Sharma has been accomplishing incredible feats of power and strength on the limestone walls of his new homeland. The rating 5.15 had to be invented to even categorize his legendary ascents. For those who don’t climb, the hardest pitches on Yosemite’s El Capitan average about 5.12. These next-generation climbs are never repeated, until now. Young Czech climber Adam Ondra is on a mission to chase and surpass Sharma. The 18-year-old protégée has already climbed many 5.15a and 5.15b projects that were pioneered by Sharma. He is now working side by side with the master to hopefully climb the first 5.15c. Arriving at Sharma’s home, Ondra is surprised to see how laid back and unassuming a life he leads; a stark contrast to Ondra’s overwhelming training schedule. Arriving at the foot of La Dura Dura (The Hard Hard), the two men try their hand at completing the project that Sharma started over four years ago. Incredible displays of athleticism and mental stamina highlight these daylong grindfests. Falling is part of the game, and these guys take some incredible whippers, only to get back on and try it again. The rage of Ondra comes to a head as he tries and repeatedly fails at surpassing the crux move. In addition to the incredible talent of these two, the film highlights the strong and beautiful techniques of female climbers. Their grace on the wall inspires a younger generation of women to attempt to gain a foothold in this predominantly male sport. This film takes viewers on an emotional journey through the heads of the world’s top climbers and shows what goes into every painstaking move. The movie ends with the project incomplete, but not given up on. The two will return again and again until the deed is done. (Writer’s note: On Feb. 7, Ondra completed La Dura Dura and secured his position as the world’s best climber.)
Where The Trail Ends:  Mountain biking visionary Darren Berrecloth is on a quest to find the most secluded arenas to ride. Freeride mountain biking has its roots in the depths of Southern Utah and has progressed into a sport known the world over. Steep and technical rock formations are sought after to attempt and descend on a two-wheeled aluminum chariot. In this film, Berrecloth and company travel to Virgin, Utah, the Gobi Desert of China, the Fraser River of British Columbia, the mountains of Salta, Argentina, and the Himalaya to find the most remote and aesthetic lines. During their visit to the Flaming Mountains of the Gobi, the team discovers an untouched mountain bike mecca. Daytime temps of over 120 degrees won’t stop them from climbing and riding the precipitous spines that proliferate the landscape. Each new area brings challenges to the group and the difficulty of pioneering new lines is highlighted in stunning HD. Their journeys across foreign lands give them a deep appreciation for the cultures they encounter and the people that call some of these seemingly inhospitable lands home. The soul of the cyclist is embodied in this film, and the passion of each rider is displayed in every turn of the pedals.
Where the Trail Ends featured some treacherous lines for mountain cyclists. Radical Reels showcased films that feature outdoor athletes performing next-level feats. Of Souls + Water: The Shapeshifter exhibited the artful sport of kayaking.