Ten years since its inception the Adventure Film Festival is still going strong. And even though its creator, artist and climber Jonny Copp, has passed away, his spirit endures through a thriving community of supporters who every year gather in Boulder Colorado to celebrate the legacy of a great leader. The program has expanded to include day-long exhibits and performances by local artists in an adventure street fair out in front of the Boulder Theater. The event has evolved well beyond the confines of a common film festival. Today Adventure Film has become the complete realization of the vision Jonny aimed to share with friends and family he loved most in life. And under the direction of his sister Aimee Copp the weekend has taken on a life of its own that others can now experience in Jonny’s memory.
“One thing that was especially important to me this year because of the 10-year anniversary was to really share him with this audience,” Aimee said in an interview. “There are obviously people in Boulder who knew him, that spent time with him or had just met him briefly, but as the years pass that will become less and less. I wanted to do this so that people can literally see him, hear his voice, get an idea of his personality and learn about him.”
A short montage of film clips edited by Alex Rojas Sanders gave festival attendees a small glimpse into Jonny’s life. The audience was treated to a special preview of the new film by artist and climber Jeremy Collins called “Drawn”. Though due to premiere at the Banff Mountain Film Festival next month in Alberta this latest production was directly influenced by Jonny and incorporates original poetry that he wrote shortly before his death in 2009. And by all accounts many in the audience were brought to tears when Jonny’s poem “Border Country” was read by his mother Phyllis Copp.
Despite their unimaginable loss the Copp family continues to give the adventure community incalculable gifts in remembrance of the son and brother who meant so much to so many. This year the Jonny Copp Award went to friend and fellow adventurer Timmy O’Neill who said the recognition came as an unexpected surprise.
“To receive the Jonny Copp award reminds me of his absence and yet everything of him that still remains,” Timmy said in a phone interview. “Jonny was my equal or better in everything we did, in climbing, in art, in music, and this award is an affirmation of everything in him I have ever wanted to be.”
Five years after Jonny’s death Aimee said she was reminded recently that she has now run the Adventure Film Festival for as long as Jonny had. Having worked to fulfill his original ambitions to take the event to a higher level of production Aimee finds great satisfaction in the knowledge that much of what her brother first conceived still stands and continues to grow.
“I’m happy that his values and what he wanted for the festival and the soul and spirit of the festival are completely intact,” Aimee said. “Sometimes it’s hard when someone passes away. There’s a void and it’s been touching to have all these people care so much and continue to share the love they have for him. I think that’s what it’s all about.”
Photos by Sidni West
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