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5Point Film Fest in Carbondale looks to motivate people

Stewart Oksenhorn
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Sandy DevenyEighteen-year-old Carbondale resident and Colorado Rocky Mountain School senior Maggie Deveny, right, is shown last year with children in Masara, Kenya. Deveny will return to Africa next week with the support of the 5Point Film Festival's Dream Project and appears Thursday at the festival with other Dream Project participants.
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CARBONDALE – Last year, Justin Clifton attended the 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale as a representative of Mountainfilm in Telluride, the festival for which he had worked for six years. Clifton looked at new films and got acquainted with filmmakers. By the conclusion of the festival’s four-day run, Clifton was looking at 5Point in a different way.

“The trip turned into something much more than that – getting inspired by 5Point, what they were doing, the community of Carbondale,” he said.

Within a few months, the 39-year-old Clifton had switched mountain towns and mountain film festivals. When 5Point opens its fifth annual festival tonight, he will be overseeing it as the organization’s executive director.



To Clifton, 5Point has separated itself from similar film festivals – those devoted to the outdoors, adventure and the environmental movement – by looking not only to entertain an audience but to motivate people. He says 5Point, in its brief history, has put itself among the top outdoors film events, alongside Mountainfilm and the Banff Mountain Film Festival, a view echoed by several filmmakers who have toured the festival circuit.

“It’s the idea of inspiring people to engage with the world around them in a meaningful way,” Clifton said. “5Point does that – celebrating these outdoor endeavors, human endeavors, is a great way to engage people in the world.”



Part of what Clifton saw at last year’s festival was the launch of the Dream Project, a 5Point program specifically designed to get young people to think about ways to better the planet. The Dream Project hands out $1,500 scholarships to local kids, and the funds allow the kids to dream big. One participant last year went to Africa to kayak down rivers that were about to be dammed and thus lost to future kayakers, and he also worked in a malaria clinic. Another established a program at the Bridges School in Carbondale to bring fellow students on hut trips; 35 kids, most of whom had never had intensive backcountry experience, ended up taking advantage of the opportunity.

The Dream Project expands this year to five students, who will appear in a presentation Thursday on 5Point’s opening-night program at 7 p.m. at the Carbondale Rec Center. Among the five are Anabolena Loor Mendoza, who will return to her native Ecuador to implement projects at the Por Amor orphanage; Claire Woolcott, who will work with people with special needs in Canada; and Maggie Deveny, who will continue her effort to buy school supplies for children in Kenya.

“It’s this idea that you challenge kids to think through their dreams in a meaningful way,” Clifton said. “It’s not ‘I want to go on this expedition.’ It’s about thinking deeply about how they can give back, how they can push their own boundaries.”

Clifton sees a connection between outdoor adventures and global do-gooding, which have emerged as the two primary themes of 5Point. Taking account of the outdoors, particularly in ways that seriously challenge a person’s abilities, makes them confront the vastness of the world, the interconnectedness of things and an individual’s place in it all.

“When you realize you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, when you realize you’re not the most important thing there, removing yourself from this ego-driven world we can get sucked into, you begin thinking about what you can bring to this world. It’s ‘How are we going to preserve things in this world?'” Clifton said. “In my mind it’s all intertwined. It’s experiencing the world as a shared experience.”

Julie Kennedy, the Carbondale adventurer who founded 5Point, has stressed from the beginning that the festival was not meant as a celebration of adrenaline-raising extreme adventures (even if many of the films at 5Point depict record-breaking kayak descents and the like). The five “points” in the festival’s mission are respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance – nothing about risking one’s hide on a sheer rock face. So a festival component that focused on urging youngsters to give of themselves was a part of the original vision.

“We wanted to create a festival that would encourage our young students to follow their adventure dreams in a profound, humble way,” Kennedy said. “It’s the opposite of the X Games mentality. It’s cool they aspire to that, but I wanted to create a different reason, a different venue, a different idea for them to be inspired. I wanted them to see that it doesn’t all have to be media-driven, that your adventure, your goals, can come from deep inside yourself.”

Even as 5Point has taken its place in the outdoor-film realm, Kennedy hasn’t stopped thinking about what the festival has yet to achieve. The kids aren’t the only ones with dreams.

“My dream is to do a film academy school – the 5Point Film Academy. That would be amazing,” she said.

stewart@aspentimes.comare Anabolena Loor Mendoza, who will return to her native Ecuador to implement projects at the Por Amor orphanage; Claire Woolcott, who will work with people with special needs in Canada; and Maggie Deveny, who will continue her effort to buy school supplies for children in Kenya.

“It’s this idea that you challenge kids to think through their dreams in a meaningful way,” Clifton said. “It’s not ‘I want to go on this expedition.’ It’s about thinking deeply about how they can give back, how they can push their own boundaries.”

Clifton sees a connection between outdoor adventures and global do-gooding, which have emerged as the two primary themes of 5Point. Taking account of the outdoors, particularly in ways that seriously challenge a person’s abilities, makes that person confront the vastness of the world, the interconnectedness of things and an individual’s place in it all.

“When you realize you’re part of something much bigger than yourself, when you realize you’re not the most important thing there, removing yourself from this ego-driven world we can get sucked into, you begin thinking about what you can bring to this world. It’s ‘How are we going to preserve things in this world?'” Clifton said. “In my mind it’s all intertwined. It’s experiencing the world as a shared experience.”

Julie Kennedy, the Carbondale adventurer who founded 5Point, has stressed from the beginning that the festival was not meant as a celebration of adrenaline-raising extreme adventures (even if many of the films at 5Point depict record-breaking kayak descents and the like). The five “points” in the festival’s mission are respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance – nothing about risking one’s hide on a sheer rock face. So a festival component that focused on urging youngsters to give of themselves was a part of the original vision.

“We wanted to create a festival that would encourage our young students to follow their adventure dreams in a profound, humble way,” Kennedy said. “It’s the opposite of the X Games mentality. It’s cool they aspire to that, but I wanted to create a different reason, a different venue, a different idea for them to be inspired. I wanted them to see that it doesn’t all have to be media-driven, that your adventure, your goals, can come from deep inside yourself.”

Even as 5Point has taken its place in the outdoor-film realm, Kennedy hasn’t stopped thinking about what the festival has yet to achieve. The kids aren’t the only ones with dreams.

“My dream is to do a film academy school – the 5Point Film Academy. That would be amazing,” she said.

stewart@aspentimes.com


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