Climbing doc ‘United States of Joe’s’ wins top prizes at virtual 5Point Adventure Film Festival |

Climbing doc ‘United States of Joe’s’ wins top prizes at virtual 5Point Adventure Film Festival

Staff report

Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen’s “United States of Joe’s” won the Best of Festival prize from the 5Point Adventure Film Festival on Sunday night, capping a five-day virtual event that showcased more than 65 new movies and marked the return of 5Point’s flagship festival.

The 22-minute film chronicles how a “dirtbag” climbing community and conservative Mormon full-time residents have found common in a central Utah.

The 5Point jury called it “everything a 5Point film aspires to be, and more.” The jury citation goes on: “In today’s divisive political climate, this film is a powerful reminder of what’s at stake when we stop seeing each other’s basic humanity, and a heartfelt motivator for all of us to find the points of connection that build community.”

It also won the 5Point People’s Choice Award, decided by audience vote, underscoring the movie’s relevance during this bitterly divided election season.


“United States of Joe’s”
Courtesy photo

The Spirit of Adventure award went to Aly Nicklas and Analise Cleopatra’s “Pedal Through,” about a group of Black women’s bike-packing trip through an Oregon forest.

“Utilizing a truly authentic voice, ‘Pedal Through’ showed us that you don’t have to be a hardcore thrill-seeker to discover the magic of the outdoors,” the jury wrote. “Having never camped or ridden a bike off the pavement prior to this experience, best friends Analise and Dej stepped out of their comfort zones to explore new landscapes, conquer fears, and most importantly, create an adventure between friends that will not be forgotten.”


Best Cinematography went to Chris Burkard’s “Unnur,” an intimate portrait of an Icelandic surf photographer and his young daughter.

“’Unnur’ is both visually stunning and exemplifies the seamless integration of story and image,” the jury wrote. “As a jury we chose this film because the cinematography so beautifully supports the story.”


The Best Director award went to Nick Martini for “North Country,” a profile of the oldest ski shop in the U.S. and the New Hampshire family that has run it for a century.

“In ‘North Country,’ director Nick Martini unearths the story of Lahout’s, the longest continuously-running ski shop in the country, but there’s so much more to it than that,” wrote the jury. “Through priceless archival footage and interviews with the multi-generational immigrant family who still run the store to this day, Martini’s skilled direction paints a brilliant portrait of a uniquely American treasure.”


The Pure Joy award went to the one-minute “One Star Reviews: National Parks,” which quotes from negative online reviews of the parks. And the Hayden Kennedy Award, given to the film that most embodies the festival’s titular five points, went to “Voice Above Water” about one man’s efforts to clean trash and plastic out of the ocean.

The festival marked the return of the Carbondale-based festival, postponed from April due the novel coronavirus pandemic.

This year’s festival jurors were Adam Montgomery, senior manager of programming for Sundance Film Festival; Jayme Moye, award-winning adventure and travel writer, and Michael Brown, award-winning filmmaker and mountaineer.

Now more than ever, it’s critical that we maintain our connection to one another and to the outdoors,” the jury wrote of the 2020 festival winners. “The films presented here represent that spirit; they embody our shared humanity and our love of this beautiful planet we call home. They also represent the sense of urgency that many of us are feeling at this particular point in time.”


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