A caravan of five Land Cruisers bounces along a rocky path. Five hundred miles north of Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the village of Atsemba is only accessible by a dirt road, and the nearest town is over an hour away. The passage is not so much a road as it is simply the clearest line of travel across a dusty landscape scattered with stones and scrub grass.In this remote region of East Africa, donkeys are more common than cars. And the arrival of so many sport utility vehicles in this austere community of 3,200 draws an excitable crowd Laughing voices rise with the sound of beating drums. Ululations and cheers from the growing throng are jubilant, welcoming. People of the village and the surrounding community come running to meet honored guests-17 tired travelers. Their white skin and pristine sportswear are a stark contrast against the dark complexions and second-hand cotton clothing of the villagers. But everyone shares broad smiles and eyes that shine bright with excitement. The visitors, from North America and Australia, are eager to see their vision of foreign aid brought to life in the shape of a four-room schoolhouse they helped to fund here. The people of Atsemba are just as anxious to show them. Children are quick to take the strangers’ hands as they enter the heart of the village. The new arrivals exchange greetings with village elders, some offering handshakes, others offering hugs. It’s a boisterous and happy parade of strangers, one of which-a tall, athletic blond woman-tries to go unnoticed. She’s hard to miss, and, as she’d visited Atsemba before, a few of the villagers recognize her as the catalyst for the occasion. She smiles warmly, but Shannon Wilson tries not to draw anyone’s attention. It’s clear she doesn’t want today’s celebration to be about her. Even as she cuts a bright pink ribbon to dedicate the new building at the Atsemba Community Primary School she has very few words. “We hope that your children will envision a brighter future for themselves.”
Many of us have a deep fascination with rock climbers. Big wall climbers in particular captivate our wonder and attention as we marvel that their daring feats of courage. And in the movie Alone on the Wall from Sender Films fans are introduced to a new breed of climber and the most breathtaking alpine style of all. Alex Honnold is one of those guys who has distinguished himself as a climber doing amazing things. Climbing the Yosemite big wall of Half Dome without a rope is what he’s best...
Living simply isn’t as easy as it looks, or is it? A new film by Allie Bombach and Red Reel Productions explores the transient lifestyles of people who live out on the open road actively in pursuit of their dreams. In a documentary filmed in a style true to its subject the short feature 23 Feet delivers the promise that happiness is often discovered in what remains of the trivial though seemly important things we leave behind.
In the best mountain adventure films a successful summit bid is never a forgone conclusion. Throughout the 15-pitch climb of The Asgard Project, a movie by Alastair Lee, you’re left wondering, “Are these guys are going to make it?” That riveting sense of anticipation will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. And though it received the prize for Best Film on Climbing at the 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival even those with no alpine aspirations will enjoy The Asgard Project. It’s simply a great piece of cinema.