5Point Film Festival to host encore screening of ski town immigration doc ‘The Quiet Force’
IF YOU GO …
What: ‘The Quiet Force’ at 5Point Film Festival
Where: Carbondale Rec Center
When: Sunday, April 28, noon
How much: $25
More info: The 35-minute film is part of a 10-movie ‘Changemakers’ program.
Usually 5Point Film’s wintertime program at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen is a showcase of the best and most inspiring titles from 5Point’s flagship springtime festival in Carbondale.
But with the stirring documentary “The Quiet Force,” which screens Sunday at 5Point in Carbondale, it’s going the other way around.
The stirring 35-minute film about the lives of immigrants in ski towns screened at the Wheeler in January and was followed by an incisive onstage conversation about this sizable but underserved population between filmmaker Hilary Byrne, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s Matt Hamilton and Valley Settlement Project’s Jon Fox-Rubin.
The film had such an effect on the audience, and sparked so much conversation in the Roaring Fork Valley, that 5Point is bringing it back for the main Carbondale festival (running April 25 to 28 at the Carbondale Rec Center).
The documentary opens with President Donald Trump on screen at a rally promising to build his “great wall” and spewing anti-immigrant rhetoric. Headlines about immigration then flash across the screen in the film’s early moments, interspersed with shots of young Latin skiers on the slopes.
Directed by Jackson Hole-based ski filmmakers Hilary Byrne and Sophie Danison, this timely documentary paints a multi-faceted portrait of immigrants in American ski towns, their vital place in the tourism economy and the pall of fear cast over the community in the Trump era.
Byrne and Danison met while working on the popular 2014 all-female ski movie “Pretty Faces” and began talking about using their storytelling talents to be agents of change.
“We have been having a conversation since then about doing something with a little more meat that inspired social change,” Byrne says. “We were both in a similar rut where we were doing cool stuff but not satiating that desire.”
In March 2016, the publication of David Page’s Powder magazine article “The Quiet Force,” about immigrants in American ski towns, inspired the pair to start adapting it for the screen.
“And then Trump got elected and it became even more relevant,” Byrne explains.
They intimately profile immigrant families with varying citizenship status in Mammoth and Jackson Hole, along with a young Salt Lake City woman with DACA status. It brings in elected officials, business owners, law enforcement officers, immigration experts and attorneys to frame the issue.
“It’s not a ski film,” Byrne says. “It’s using these ski towns and industries to talk about an issue that can be applied everywhere.”
While immigrant labor props up the economy nationwide, the film argues, its necessity is laid bare in smaller service-driven ski communities where infrastructure would crumble without immigrants.
“They are the people who keep this machine running,” Mono County Sheriff Ingrid Braun says of the Mammoth-area immigrants in the film. “It’s unseen, the quiet workforce.”
The film introduces viewers to characters like a Jackson Hole-area carpenter, with a wife and two American-born children, who was brought here from Mexico by his parents as a teenager. He is now raising his kids as ski-town rippers while living in the shadows.
It also profiles young Latino skiers who have never known any life but the American ski-town life, yet still live with the fear of losing family members to deportation or of being deported themselves.
“The best thing is I’m a skier,” Diana Zunga, the DACA recipient in Salt Lake, says, later adding while ski-touring in the Tetons: “It pushed me to be somebody who I wanted to be.”