5Point Film to premiere Brody Leven’s ‘Pedal to Peaks: Norway’ at the Wheeler Opera House
If You Go …
What: 5 Point Film Festival, On the Road in Aspen
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Saturday, Jan. 21, 7 p.m.
How much: $25
Tickets: Wheeler Opera House box office; www.aspenshowtix.com
You know those travel debacles where everything goes wrong? Or those backcountry misfires where your equipment and the weather and your body all conspire against you to create a bitter stew of misery?
And you know how, a couple months later, when you’re telling the horrid story of this nightmare trip to your friends, you realize it’s actually a lot more interesting than the tales of trips where everything goes just right?
Well, that’s the narrative principle behind Brody Leven’s new film “Pedal to Peaks: Norway,” which has its world premiere Saturday night at the Wheeler Opera House.
Last April, Leven set out for Norway with biker Joey Schusler and photographer KT Miller. The goal was to bike the length of the 350-mile Lofoten archipelago, skiing the mountains along the seaside.
At the outset of the film and just 60 yards into the trip, Leven’s derailleur breaks. It doesn’t get much better from there. Over-burdened with gear on cursed bicycles, tormented by semi trucks whizzing past them on the highway and baring down on them through lengthy underground tunnels, the expedition devolves into a spirit-crushing journey. One of the trio quits early and heads home. There’s no epic ski day at the end of the rainbow. It’s all guts, no glory, all captured in a memorable eight-and-a-half minute film that about the small victories in failure.
Leven meets the bad mojo of the trip with good humor and without any smug self-aggrandizing. There’s a “Cribs”-style tour of his overloaded at one point and a joke at the expense of celebrity climber and “Sufferfest” star Alex Honnold, along with a lot of actual suffering.
“I’ve come to appreciate the more miserable trips,” Leven said with a laugh in a recent phone interview from home in Salt Lake City, “the ones that push you physically and mentally. It’s hard to explain why, but I think everyone can relate to that in some way.”
An Instagram star, writer, Ohio native, pro skier and self-proclaimed mediocre cyclist, Leven has been increasingly drawn to the more challenging side type-2 fun in the mountains.
“In my backcountry skiing, I enjoy the up as much — if not more — than the down,” he said. “I’ve never done things the easy way. … It’s kind of weird.”
The new film — Leven’s first as a producer — is a sequel to his 2014 “Pedal to Peaks,” which chronicled a similar bike-packing trip up 50,000 vertical feet of mountains in the Pacific Northwest
“I told myself I’d never do it again,” he says at the outset of the new movie.
But on a trip to Whistler two winters ago, a pair of Europeans from the Salomon Global Ski team encouraged Leven to take a look at the Lofoten archipelago for another bike-ski adventure — they told him of the scenic highway that runs between islands there: “They said, ‘Man, that’s crazy. Have you thought about doing one in Norway?’”
He hadn’t. But within two months, he had mapped a route and bought plane tickets.
“This is how all of my trips start,” he said of the relatively impulsive planning process. “How else do trips get put in someone’s mind? Somebody mentions it or you see someplace on a map and then you’re going.”
The world premiere of Leven’s “Pedal to Peaks: Norway” is the centerpiece of 5Point Film’s program Saturday night at the Wheeler. The annual Aspen show from the Carbondale-based film festival will be hosted by writer Paddy O’Connell and will show 10 short movies, including screenings of Aspen filmmaker Jesse Hoffman’s “The Process” and Silverton Mountain guide John Shocklee’s “A Fairytale.”
The event will raise funds for the nonprofit, which is hosting its flagship festival in Carbondale April 20 to 23, and will launch this year’s Dream Project.
“The program will take the audience all over the world with stories of triumph and pain, elation and wonder in some of the most beautiful places on Earth and leave you on the edge of your seat and compelled to get out and live your best story,” Meaghan Lynch, 5Point’s newly appointed executive director, said in the lineup announcement.
Leven got his first taste of 5Point at last year’s Aspen event, at which he took the stage to talk about about the spellbinding “Eclipse.” That award-winning film followed photographer Reuben Krabbe, Leven and a group of skiers on a quixotic journey to the Arctic to ski through a solar eclipse.
Leven returned to the Carbondale festival last year and is quickly becoming a part of the 5Point family — an avatar of its titular principles (respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance).
“I instantly felt right at home with that crew,” Leven said of 5Point.
He’s likely to keep taking on these pedal-to-peak trips, though where he’ll end up next remains undecided: “I have trips that are booked all over the world right now, and if two of them happen I will be stoked.”
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