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Keeping the 5Point Film Festival vibe alive

A pandemic forces organizers to go virtual, but the same great camaraderie and adventure remains given an innovative virtual format

By Lauren Glendenning
Brought to you by 5Point Film Festival
“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
“Pedal Through,” a film about three young black women taking on a week-long bike packing adventure full of joy, healing, and mentorship with mother nature in Oregon’s backcountry
Fresh 5Point programs, accessible to all

5Point Film Festival is online this year, from Oct. 14-18, in a live format that will feature new short films, woven together with emcees who will guide attendees through a live, interactive experience. Programs are roughly two hours long with an intermission.

With short films spanning pure adventure, thrills and adrenaline, to poignant and reflective character stories, 5Point delivers a lineup that takes the audience on a journey, or perhaps a much-needed escape during a difficult and challenging year. 

This year’s films include stories about a little-known style of kayaking called squirt boating, to a sentimental father-daughter story about surfing in Iceland, to a heartwarming story about America’s longest continuously running ski shop that chronicles the history of skiing in the U.S.

When you purchase a pass or ticket, you’ll get an unlocking code that becomes active right before the start of the program. You can enjoy the experience from a smart TV, computer, tablet or smartphone.  

“Whether you’re a fan or new to 5point, this is your opportunity to see what we’re all about,” Jones said. “We’re not going to disappoint.”

What: 5Point Film Festival

When: Oct. 14-18, live-streaming (on-demand programming will not be available)

Where: Online

Cost: All access pass for an individual is $55, or $75 for a household of two or more people. Individual program tickets range from $10 to $25. 

For more details or to purchase tickets, visit 5pointfilm.org/festival

A global pandemic might have changed the format in which 5Point delivers its 2020 adventure film festival, but it couldn’t stop organizers from keeping the 5Point vibe alive. 

The annual gathering that typically takes place in Carbondale brings together adventurers from around the world to share in the creativity, adrenaline, and excitement of 5Point films. This year, 5Point Film Festival is going virtual without undermining one of its core values—bringing people together. 

“5Point is really known for that — audiences watching together and feeling that energy in one room,” said Regna Jones, executive director of 5Point Film Festival. “That’s one of the reasons we’re so impactful, because of this collective experience.”

In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout's Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.
In Northern New Hampshire, Lahout’s Country Store is America’s longest continuously running ski shop. “North Country” is a short story of the American dream and the family that put a community on skis.

A decision to stream live

The engaging, interactive spirit of 5Point led organizers to the only logical format for a virtual event: it had to be live. An on-demand format, which many other film festivals have tried this year, wouldn’t be able to capture the spirit of 5Point.

“Our secret sauce, in a way, is that communal experience,” said Charlie Turnbull, 5Point’s director of programming. “It’s been a really important thing we’ve tried to maintain as much as we can.”

5Point tested this live virtual format in April when it initially postponed its flagship event. Organizers realized they could replicate 5Point’s immersive experience in its own unique way. 

“We immediately created 5Point Unlocked pulling  films from our archives, while weaving into the program our hosts, filmmakers, and special guests showing life in  lockdown. We offered the programs to the community for free as a way of bringing people together around something uplifting. We wanted to be part of a positive experience people could have during such a difficult and uncertain time,” Jones said. 

5Point Film Festival’s programs will only be broadcast live on their designated night (see factbox for details). You’ll have to tune in at that time, meaning all festival “attendees” will be tuning in together.

An interactive audience experience goes online

Many of 5Point’s hosts have become crowd favorites over the years, which led to two more exciting elements in this year’s virtual programming.

“5Point’s hosts will guide you through the program each night showcasing interviews and special guest clips,” Turnbull said. “Then, filmmakers or athletes will pop up and do Q&As, live on Zoom, after the program, just as they would on stage.”

Take time out of your schedule to watch 5point, as if you were attending the festival in person — 5Point promises pure inspiration and entertainment. 

“I think we’ve created a really cool and interesting new experience for our audience, with the same kind of trimmings the 5Point audience expects,” Turnbull said.

Staying true to the 5Point mission

Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer's life with his daughter.
Photo by Chris Burkard “Unnur,” a film that tells a beautiful story of an Icelandic photographer and surfer’s life with his daughter.

Jones said that when the pandemic hit, she found comfort and grounding in 5Point’s solid purpose and mission. 

“As a nonprofit, we want to put our money where our mouth is. We stayed committed to our give-back programs such as the Dream Project scholarships and the 5Point Film Fund, supporting filmmakers and artists and staying true to our work in education and community outreach,” Jones said. 

During quarantine, 5Point partnered with VOICES, a local nonprofit whose mission is to amplify voices in the community through the arts. In this project, the organizations created a platform for people to tell stories through stop motion videos. 

That collaboration led to another partnership with VOICES, called the 5Point Voices Youth Film Project which is teaching autobiographical-style filmmaking to a cohort of students at Bridges High School.

“Film is the most democratizing medium of our time. When youth can use it to tell stories and have their voices heard, it can be a really powerful way of expressing oneself, and also bears witness to what’s happening in the world right now,” Jones said. “We leaned into doing something good for the community and really stepped into the situation in a leadership way in terms of how a nonprofit can be bold and innovative, especially during times of uncertainty. If we can’t fulfill our mission, then what are we?”


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