Films that shine a light on the human spirit |

Films that shine a light on the human spirit

5Point Film Festival believes that adventure belongs to all, which is why its films connect emotionally with audiences from all backgrounds

Written by Lauren Glendenning For the Aspen Times

This Sponsored content is brought to you by 5Point Adventure Film Festival.

Blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak in “The Weight of Water.”

In the 5Point film “The Weight of Water,” blind adventurer Erik Weihenmayer takes on the Grand Canyon in a kayak, but this impressive physical and mental achievement is really just the backdrop for a much more remarkable human story.

“The film transcends the outdoor genre with strong characters and a very compelling story about life that includes all of us, not just Erik,” said filmmaker Michael Brown. “Kayaking and the Grand Canyon, while beautiful, are merely a backdrop for a deeply human drama mixed with a wonderful story of friendship.”

Transcending the outdoor genre is exactly what makes 5Point films — all of which capture and display the 5 points of purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance — unique in the outdoor adventure film world. Other festivals may tug at viewers’ adrenaline strings, but 5Point wants its films to do that and more.

“We’re looking for the stories behind these adventures,” said Regna Jones, 5Point’s Executive Director. “We want to go deep into the human story to find out what drives and motivates people.”

Evolving from the adrenaline-pumping vibe of the festival’s early days, today’s festival connects with its audiences by showing moving stories about the human spirit and how adventure is for everyone — with a bit of action-adventure mixed in.

“Whether someone is showing true grit, pure joy or overcoming an obstacle in life, it’s the people — the human story — that drives a 5Point film,” Meredith McKee, 5Point’s Program Director.

Adventure belongs to all

Weihenmayer, who has been blind since the age of 14 due to a genetic condition, trained for six or seven years to kayak the Grand Canyon. He also was the subject of a film, “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” about his 2001 journey climbing Mt. Everest.

Mike Chambers and Jason Antin in “In Due Time.” In the film, these two men openly explore their thoughts on fatherhood, family and adventure — and how the proper balance between these three is necessary for their happiness.

“Some people are on the fast track in life and they want to conquer a mountain really fast. I’m not really into that — I like to build up and see if you can flourish in an environment rather than just survive it,” Weihenmayer said.

When asked what drives him to accomplish these harrowing feats, Weihenmayer doesn’t have a clear answer.

“I can tell you why I don’t do things — I don’t do things to prove blind people can do things. That’s sort of shallow and unsustainable. The world says I can’t do something so I’m going to go do it — I don’t think that’s enough,” he said.

Weihenmayer said it’s Brown’s work as the filmmaker that impressively captures the real story behind the journey. He said filmmakers often don’t get enough attention for these storytelling achievements.

“When I left the Grand Canyon, you have this story but it hasn’t really emerged yet,” Weihenmayer said. “Filmmakers try to figure out what’s the story and where’s the truth in this experience. I think Michael really tried to tap into some universal things a lot of people experience in life and the outdoors. People can connect themselves — their own fears, limitations and dreams — to the characters in the film. Michael nailed it. He did such a masterful job connecting it with people.”

That’s the root of a 5Point film, Jones said — knowing that it’s going to be full of heart. From 5Point’s perspective, “adventure” is a very broad term.

“It does not matter if you are a kayaker or not, or if you have been to the Grand Canyon or not. If you have lived life and suffered from setbacks, you will appreciate the very human and very universal aspects of this story,” Brown said. “What especially resonates is that in life, our choices define us and our perception of success and failure.”

The Carbondale experience

Brown sees Carbondale as the heart of a true mountain community that encompasses the entirety of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“There is a lot of authenticity in the audience at 5Point,” he said. “They will see through anything contrived.”

The platform of the festival challenges its filmmakers and audiences to take on a new view of life, and to be more open to new ideas, cultures and current events, according to Rob Prechti, the subject of the film “(People) Of Water.”

“My favorite part of this festival is interacting with the community, sharing ideas and thoughts with the directors, creatives and influencers, the hosts and general audience,” he said. “Everyone has a story to tell no matter how mundane or exciting, and it is that connection that really brings the community together.”  

(People) of Water is the story of Rob Prechtl, a member of the U.S. Men’s Raft team, on a journey to learn the craft of outrigger paddling.

There will be more than 100 special guests coming to town for this year’s festival. And in the spirit of this special mountain community, there will also be many surprises.

“After many films, we will bring up the filmmakers and athletes in the films on stage to share their behind-the-scenes stories with the audience. We also look forward to moments of music played out in our films and love to surprise the audience with a live-score or song after a few films every year. 

” McKee said. “It really surprises the audiences — and very much amplifies the message of the film and leaves the audience feeling inspired and changed.”

5Point has worked hard to build this reputation authentically. Jones said the nature of the festival and the ethos it represents has the capacity to make the world a better place. “Caring about the planet, being healthy, active, having the 5 points to focus on — it’s a spiritual invitation to be a good human and take care of our environment and earth, and learn about each other and connect and walk with a bit more grace and humility,” she said. “That’s what excites me about this organization.”


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