Art In Motion at the 5Point Film Festival


For the past seven years, mountain-inspired athletes, artists and activists have gathered in Carbondale in late April to share their love of adventure. This meeting of the minds is afforded by the 5Point Film Festival, a three-day bonanza of films, live performances and storytelling that celebrates the active lifestyle. Within its relatively short lifespan, the festival has grown into one of the country’s premier adventure film events. But it also showcases much more than just what’s on the screen.

“5Point has created its own personality to become more like an adventure concert. It’s not just a film festival,” says founder Julie Kennedy. “You never know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get theater. There are speakers. There’s poetry. You’re to going to have all kinds of art coming at you.”

The films themselves go beyond the typical adventure porn. Sure, there are the riveting scenes of mountaineering through the Himalayas or kayaking across Mongolia, but viewers are also treated to truly compelling narratives, like the short feature The Heat. In a distinctly non-mountain film director Chris Eversole tells the story of female boxing champion Heather “the Heat” Hardy as she struggles to the top of her sport while raising a child as a single mother through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in New York City. By supporting the ambitions of independent filmmakers to capture all types of adventure, 5Point aims to present experiences that both entertain and inspire.

“We try to get filmmakers to step out of their boxes and create 5Point films,” says Kennedy. “We try to hook them up with different ideas and resources so that they can create really good programming not only for our festival, but for festivals around the globe.”

Following the five guiding principles of respect, commitment, humility, purpose and balance 5Point offers an annual scholarship for young people in the Roaring Fork Valley to achieve their ambitions in the world outside through its Dream Project. Area teenagers from high schools across the region can earn the opportunity to give back to the world at large through both exploration and service projects. The Festival also offers adventure artists with a forum to share resources and ideas and, potentially, reach even larger audiences.

For example, George Knowles, a filmmaker from Telluride, was commissioned by 5Point to make the short film 14C, which details the lives of 14-year-old sport climbing phenom Kai Lighter and his mother, Connie. The inspiring story follows the passionate quest of an African-American youth from North Carolina to become one of the world’s best athletes.
“It definitely wouldn’t have come to life without [5Point],” says Knowles. “It meant a lot having people of that caliber give me their input.” After its premiere at 5Point in 2014 the film was screened at several other festivals around the country.

That type of success lends great credibility to this small town event. In the past year, 5Point added a road-show component, with screenings of selected films at multiple venues across the U.S., including Boston, Asheville, North Carolina; and Bellingham, Washington. Growing popularity for these events have prompted near sell-out crowds and expansion into other markets like Minneapolis in 2016. Organizers expect these off-site shows to increase viewership in Carbondale as the festival grows.

“You’ll continue to see 5Point evolving,” says executive director Sarah Wood, who joined the festival in 2012. “There’s this unique balance we try to find in giving audiences what they expect and then more. And what is that more? It’s not just more films, more to do around the weekend. But it’s kind of taking a twist every year to find stretch pieces and find new or different activities or putting a different spin on something that’s familiar.”

The 5Point Film Festival runs April 23-26. Tickets go on sale in March, and program specifics will be announced in April. Individual shows are $TK. The $250 Independence Pass, available until March 23, includes priority reserved seating at all shows, six drink tickets and acknowledgment in the program.

2015 5Point Film Festival Trailer from 5Point Film Festival on Vimeo.

The story originally appeared in the March 2015 edition of Aspen Magazine


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I'm a freelance journalist that specializes in telling stories about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation, acts of charitable giving and practices of sustainable living.

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