02 May 14.c Film Featuring Teen Climber Kai Lightner and His Mom Wins Inspiration Award
The new climbing film 14.c introduces a unique perspective on the sport that demonstrates the critical importance of family in the development of natural talent. Directed by George Knowles, the short film follows a few days in the life of Kai Lightner, a talented young man who at the age of 14 climbs with incredible skill and ability. As Kai ascends to the top of the most difficult routes, rated 5.14c, he relies upon the support and encouragement of his mother, Connie. With infinite patience and enthusiasm, this single mother lovingly guides her son through the early stages of a promising career—Kai aspires to one day become a sport-climbing world champion.
Having premiered to a sold-out crowd at the 7th annual 5Point Film Festival in Carbondale, Colorado, 14.c allows viewers to witness the ascent of a rising star. A four-time youth sport climbing champ, Kai is well on his way toward his life’s goal. Created with the support of the 5Point Film Fund this short reveals an intimate portrait of mother and son as they work together to take full advantage of Kai’s passion and aptitude for climbing. Balancing his straight-A school schedule with high intensity workouts, Connie channels her boy’s energy with love and encouragement as she belays him up one difficult route after another. The incredibly strong bond between these two characters is compelling.
“From the moment I met Kai and his mother, Connie, it was obvious that their relationship was unique and that there was a story needing to be told,” said director George Knowles. “To be welcomed into their lives for the week we had to shoot the piece, as if we were family, is something I will never forget.”
Showing on opening night of the festival 14.c roused the audience to their feet and applaud with more excitement than at any other moment during the long weekend of outstanding films.
“The crowd reaction was amazing,” said festival director Sarah Wood. “There were tears, there was laugher, there was applause. I think everyone championed Kai as a young climber out there climbing for all the right reasons. But they also championed his mom, who’s so dedicated to her son and is helping him to achieve his dream. The 5Point audience really recognized that and they stood behind Connie with that standing ovation every bit as much as they applauded for Kai.”
14.c is a piece that speaks to the true spirit of independent filmmaking. Immediately following its premiere in Carbondale, where it won an award for Most Inspiring film, Knowles was invited to present his short at the Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride over Memorial Day weekend. With a storyline that tugs at the heartstrings while encouraging viewers to seek out the best in themselves the life of Kai in 14.c is a truly wonderful tale of ambition and courage that continues to unfold and reveal a bright future.
This story originally appeared in the National Geographic Adventure blog Beyond the Edge on May 1, 2014