Heavy-hitting films anchor 5Point schedule | AspenTimes.com

Heavy-hitting films anchor 5Point schedule

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Fisheye view of Matilija Dam on Matilija Creek, Ventura River watershed. This is what steelhead see blocking their access upstream.
Matt Stoecker |

5Point Film Festival founder Julie Kennedy recently recalled a conversation she had with Patagonia clothing company founder Yvon Chouinard about 15 years ago.

His company was soaring, and Chouinard had become “iconic” for his accomplishments and environmental activism, Kennedy said. Never bashful, Kennedy asked him what heights he imagined taking his company. His answer surprised and inspired her.

Chouinard told her he had no burning desire to create a bigger empire selling outdoor clothing and equipment. He saw the success of his brand as an opportunity to give back to the environment, according to Kennedy.

She credits him for accomplishing that in multiple ways, the latest being the presentation of the film “DamNation,” which will be shown Saturday at 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale. Chouinard is the executive producer of the film.

“Some of the scenes, no words need to be spoken.”
Julie Kennedy 5Point founder, referring to scenes in ‘DamNation’

The filmmakers spanned the U.S. to explore the change in national attitude over the decades from pride in big dams as engineering marvels to a growing awareness that our future is connected to the health of rivers.

“Dam removal has moved beyond the fictional Monkey Wrench Gang to go mainstream,” says the official synopsis of the film. “Where obsolete dams come down, rivers bound back to life, giving salmon and other wild fish the right of return to primeval spawning ground, after decades without access.”

The film made its debut at SXSW in March and has been screened a handful of other times since. “For us to have it is incredible,” Kennedy said.

Chouinard urged Kennedy to pursue her passion and start 5Point Film Festival seven years ago. Patagonia has been a major sponsor from the start.

Kennedy said “DamNation” is visually stunning — portraying both the majesty of dams and the elation of wild salmon finally swimming home after decades of barriers.

“Some of the scenes, no words need to be spoken,” Kennedy said.

Sarah Wood, executive director of the film festival, said the film is a “good fit” with 5Point because it isn’t preachy or telling viewers how they should feel. It presents the story and helps them understand the issues.

“DamNation” will be shown from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Carbondale Recreation Center. The 87-minute screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Katie Lee, who fought the damming of the Colorado River at Glen Canyon as well as filmmakers Ben Knight, Travis Rummel and Matt Stoecker.

5Point typically features short films and highlights one feature. This year’s lineup showcases two feature films. In addition to “DamNation” on Saturday, the Sunday afternoon program will feature “McConkey,” a film about the late freeskier and ski BASE jumper Shane McConkey. The film is described as “a heartfelt examination of the legacy one athlete left to the progression of his sports, and the path he paved to conquer his dreams.”

Wood said the staff didn’t intentionally set out to include two feature films, but felt both of them were super strong. “McConkey” will make viewers take note of how extreme sports are progressing, she said.

Kennedy said the film debunks the idea that becoming a sponsored athlete means everything will be all right.

“McConkey,” a film by Steve Winter, will air at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets for both feature films are available online at http://5pointfilm.org. Ticket price for “DamNation” is $10. The price for “McConkey” is $28 and includes a later session of short films and the festival’s closing ceremonies.