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Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

It would seem that May would be a tough month to hold an event here in the Roaring Fork Valley, what with so many people having gone off to so many places.

But this May has seen an election in Aspen that had a respectably high turnout and a film fest in Carbondale that, while not totally packed, hosted a great gathering of cool people.

You know about the election of course, and, if you were one of the cool people, you also know about the 5Point Film Festival. In just two short years Julie Kennedy’s kitchen table idea of showing a collection of extreme sports shorts and bringing out-there athletes to town for talks has become an institution in Carbondale.

The action began last Thursday at the Carbondale Recreation Center, home to the event, on what was perhaps the most beautiful evening of the spring thus far. Outside on the patio folks wearing Patagonia, Mountain Hardware and North Face leisure lines chowed down on big hefty burritos from Dos Gringos and sipped the always-wonderful New Belgium Mothership Wit as they caught up with each other. Tales were told of this winter past, raft trips to come and bike rides taken that very day.

It was all very Carbondale.

That is to say that Carbondale is one of those towns that has a persona. From Phat Thai and six89 to Steve’s Guitars to the Black Nugget to the Crystal Theatre to the park to Film Fest to the solar farm, to the architects offices and houses, this is a town that has organically created an identity.

Some towns, (and I won’t name names) hold meetings to discuss what they should become and send well-meaning politicians and business people out to create “vitality”. Carbondale didn’t need to do that. Vitality happened.

Anyway, as darkness fell the crowd filtered into the theater for the first of three nights of adventure films. There was skiing, kayaking, sailing, base jumping (lots of base jumping), climbing, surfing (no where near enough surfing), bike riding, fishing, snowboarding … and that was just in the opening film. Actually the opening film was a montage of scenes from all the other films edited by R.A Beattie that was perfect foreplay for the events to come.

I caught two nights of films and, as was the case last year, thoroughly enjoyed the eye candy. My favorite film was called “The Red Helmet” which aired as the first film on Friday night. Without dialogue it told a poignant story of a young Swiss boy who overcomes his fears of leaping from a dock into a lake after he finds a red helmet in the woods. As the boy struggles with his seemingly small challenge we see incredible visuals of paragliders, base jumpers, mountain bikers and climbers, all of whom presumably face their own challenges and fears. Powerful. You can see the film on YouTube, just google “The Red Helmet”.

Also on the web there is a good conversation taking place about the festival on Lou Dawson’s blog at http://www.wildsnow.com where people are discussing whether these films glamorize extreme risk taking and use social messages to find funding. Both are good questions.

Maybe they will be addressed at next year’s event.


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