5Point Film is Back Where it Belongs
Festival director Luis Yllanes discusses bringing the adventure film festival back to Carbondale
What: 5Point Adventure Film Festival
Where: Carbondale Rec Center & beyond
When: Thursday April 21-Sunday, April 24
How much: Full passes $365-$500; feature films $20; Short Film programs $38; Family program $15 (free 12 & under); many events are also free; aspenshowtix.com
Full schedule & more info: 5pointfilm.org
Moreso than most other film festivals, the 5Point Adventure Film Festival has thrived on the energy in the room at the Carbondale Rec Center during its flagship April gathering.
The crowd is full of locals, artists, storytellers, filmmakers, mountaineers, skiers, skaters and outdoorsy people of all stripes and self-proclaimed “dirtbags” brought together by a love for thoughtful adventure. The mix of short films, features, special and surprise guests and returning emcees like Paddy O’Connell made this more than a ski stokefest or an ego-stroking tribute to the season’s hottest endurance dude.
Guided by the festival’s titular five points – purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance – a day at 5Point can leave you fulfilled and inspired. That was my experience for the decade I spent covering 5Point leading up to the pandemic and, I’m hoping like a lot of folks, that’s the experience awaiting us as the festival returns to its in-person home at the Rec Center April 21-24 after two years of cancellations and virtual programming.
For this spring’s return, which includes more than 50 shorts and three feature-length films, they didn’t include any virtual option. Instead they went back to its core as an in-person experience (with vaccinations or negative COVID 19 tests required).
“It was really a drive towards reconnecting with our community,” said 5Point executive director Luis Yllanes. “And we do that by gathering.”
Yllanes and his team did not shake up the 5Point formula for 2022.
They packed the lineup with beloved local traditions like Thursday evening’s Van Life Rally, Saturday’s family festivities and Sunday’s activism-based “Changemakers” program along with three nightly three-hour programs packed with new films, favorite 5Point filmmakers and adventures from the global 5Point family with special guests (and, we can assume based on years past, lots of surprises).
Yllanes and his team also brought back a full slate of free group outings and free panels and podcast tapings (these have actually provided some of my most impactful days at 5Point including talking to the lage legendary folk singer and activist Katie Lee with about a dozen people one year, listening to climber Brandon Leonard tell his story of addiction and recovery another).
When Yllanes came on board in December, he and the team quickly made the decision to remount 5Ppoint in-person and in its established form.
“We needed the festival to be back,” Yllanes said. “I think we owed it to our community, to our partners who have supported us during the pandemic, and to its importance for the organization. So we looked at what we’ve done before and realized, ‘Okay, yes, we can do this!'”
Its been a long road since the pandemic canceled the event in April 2020.
That spring, the festival produced one of the best virtual programs to come out of Colorado during the pandemic lockdown. In April 2020, 5Point produced a free “5Point Unlocked” virtual festival – an online three-day film event for a global audience – during the stay-home period of the early pandemic. That event drew an estimated 20,000 viewers, far outstretching the limited capacity of the in-person 5Point fest and the nonprofit’s expectations. Nearly 50% of those viewers watched from outside Colorado, they reported.
The organization followed that with “Together Under One Sky,” a four-night virtual festival in October 2020. The 5Point “On The Road” series also went virtual and the 5Point Earth Day Pop-Up hosted a sold-out drive-in movie event in Carbondale in April 2021.
But year two of the pandemic was a struggle as the festival fell victim to bad timing. It pushed its traditional April date – which fell during the first wave of vaccinations but before most public health mandates dropped – to October 2021, but then had to cancel that due to the surge of the delta variant of the coronavirus.
In December, Yllanes came aboard as the new director – succeeding Regna Jones, who had a three-year run at the helm.
Along with the flagship festival this weekend, Yllanes and 5Point are aiming to start going back in-person elsewhere and bringing back popular 5Point events at the Wheeler Opera House, in Denver and the 5Point “On the Road” series, while Yllanes said he is also looking at the possibility of adding programming in Carbondale and Rifle and online.
“I think we can go back to creating more opportunity for folks to engage with us,” Yllanes said. Even if that’s online and virtual, so that people don’t think we’re just about the one festival. People are used to saying, ‘Oh, 5Point, the festival.’ But there, we want to create other opportunities for engagement outside of that.”
On the eve of his first 5Point as director, Yllanes – who previously spent 12 years behind the scenes at the Aspen Art Museum – said he’s excited about inspiring people through the festival.
“What excites me most is films themselves,” he said. “Whenever I’ve had a hard day or I’m really challenged, I’ll watch one of these films that is just so inspirational. I always know the reason why I’m doing this – it’s for the benefit of others, it’s to inspire.”