Paul looking through log book in Watson, directed by Lesley Chilcott
Paul looking through log book in Watson, directed by Lesley Chilcott (Courtesy of Participant Media)

The Whistler Film Festival’s 6th annual Adventure Film Series will take place online from August 3 to 30, 2020. The film series will include five features plus five shorts authorized for viewing in Canada over four weeks ranging from extreme sports to activism through adventure. Mountain biking, deep water cave diving, kayaking, cycling, rowing, trail running, skiing, pioneering, adventure photography, and environmental activism are themes highlighted in the adrenaline-fueled lineup.

Whistler is a renowned outdoor adventure destination and, as this year has forced us all to adapt to the times, we’re bringing great outdoor stories to film fans, thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies who can’t make it here in person. Audiences from across the country will be able to experience virtual adventures through these carefully curated films and personal stories.

Shauna Hardy Mishaw, WFF’s Executive Director and Founder

Dedicated to educating, inspiring and motivating audiences, WFF’s Adventure Film Series will be presented as an online experience featuring the film screenings plus bonus content that includes filmmaker introductions and live Q&A’s with some of the filmmakers as well as the ShortWork program. The features are scheduled to debut each Monday throughout the month of August at 7:00am PST and will be available to watch online until the following Sunday until 12:00am PST, or until sold out on WFF’s virtual festival platform.

In celebration of BC Day, the Adventure Film Series will launch on August 3 with the BC Premiere of Home from Squamish based award-winning filmmaker, Jen Randall. Between 2011 and 2015, UK adventurer Sarah Outen traversed the globe on her ‘London2London: Via The World’ expedition. She was the engine of her four-year odyssey, which took her over 20,000 miles by bike, kayak, and rowboat across Europe and Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic. Winner of the best adventure and exploration film at the 2019 BANFF Mountain Film Festival, Home is the flawlessly edited recollection of Sarah’s ups and downs as she braved the world in isolation and challenged herself to find out what home truly meant to her. 

On August 10, the series continues with double features that include Picture of His Life directed by Dani Menkin and Yonatan Nir, which traces the frigid journey of world-renowned wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum as he attempts to conquer his final photographic dream: to photograph a polar bear underwater while swimming alongside it. The film follows Amos in the Canadian Arctic, as he prepares for his ultimate challenge. As the journey unfolds, so does an intimate and painful story of dedication, sacrifice, and personal redemption. 

Also screening on August 10 is the World Premiere of Lost on Everest, the latest film from National Geographic, which investigates one of exploration’s most perplexing mysteries: What happened to the great explorers Andrew “Sandy” Irvine and George Leigh Mallory, who disappeared on June 8, 1924, while attempting the first summit of Everest? The clues to solving this mystery lie frozen somewhere near the top of the world’s tallest mountain. The one-hour special is led by journalist, climber, and adventurer Mark Synnott, along with National Geographic photographer, climber, and mountaineer Renan Ozturk. They are joined by a world-renowned team of professional climbers with more than 100 combined years of experience on the mountain. Together, they set out to find the body of Everest pioneer Irvine, solve the mystery behind his disappearance, and conclusively determine who successfully conquered the world’s tallest mountain — a feat that would rewrite mountaineering history. Lost on Everest features never-before-seen breathtaking images captured from high-altitude drones and new research from the preeminent Everest historian Tom Holzel, who utilizes state-of-the-art computer software to uncover photographic details. As part of the expedition, Ozturk captured a rare and breathtaking 360-degree panorama photograph of Mount Everest, which was featured in National Geographic magazine in 2019. Lost on Everest is executive produced for National Geographic by Taylor Rees and Renan Ozturk, who also directs, with Drew Pulley. Serving as Executive Producers for National Geographic are Bengt Anderson and Alan Eyres, Senior Vice President of Production and Development. Lost on Everest is scheduled to premiere on National Geographic on October 3 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. 

On August 17, WFF invites audiences to join us for the English Canadian premiere of Dave Not Coming Back directed by Jonah Malak. Two high-level scuba-divers and long-time friends, Don and Dave, broke a world record for depth in the Boesmansgat cave in South Africa. It would take them 15 minutes to reach the bottom, but 12 hours to resurface. Having reached the bottom, against all odds, they find a body. They decide to come back and retrieve it, but their retrieval does not go as planned. What ensues is the gripping, feature-length documentary about the retrieval of not one body but two when Dave does not come back. 

On August 24, the series concludes with the exclusive Canadian premiere of Watson directed by Lesley Chilcott. Runner up of the Documentary Audience Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, Watson is the quintessential documentary for environmental enthusiasts and activists. Coming out of hiding, Captain Paul Watson, Co-Founder of Greenpeace and Founder of Sea Shepherd, grippingly recounts his adventures at sea and the History and work that has gone into the last 40 years of fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat. Produced by Academy Award-winning production studio Participant Media (American FactoryThe Cove, and Roma), Watson blends revealing contemporary interviews with Captain Watson, archival clips of Sea Shepherd’s dramatic encounters, and spectacular underwater nature footage, as award-winning documentarian Lesley Chilcott (An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting For “Superman”) paints a fascinating portrait of a man willing to put his own life at risk in a relentless quest to protect the oceans and the marine life within.

To recognize the vitality and endurance of adventure filmmakers during these unprecedented times, the Adventure Film Series also features five award-winning BC made short films that previously played the festival. The ShortWork program includes: the WFF19 Best Mountain Culture Film winner Coming Home by Ryan Scura and Dylan Ladds, honorable mention for Best Mountain Culture film Nebula by Jay Trusler, Call Me Crazy from Whistler-based production studio Origin directed by Andrea Wing, Becoming History directed by Whistler’s ‘Father of Freeskiing,’ Mike Douglas, and Madman Trails of Bhutan, the latest work from WFF Adventure Film Series alumnus Scott Secco. The ShortWork program will be available to view throughout the series as free bonus content for all Adrenaline Passholders or for a suggested $20 donation in support of WFF’s 20th anniversary year.

WFF Adventure Film Series tickets are $14 per feature and the Adrenaline Pass is $50, which includes the five features and the five shorts. Discover more at www.whistlerfilmfestival.com.

Adventure Film Series Lineup

MONDAY, AUGUST 3 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 9

HOME
2019 | 92 mins | Whistler Premiere | Unrated | Canada |  Dir. Jen Randall

Between 2011 and 2015, UK adventurer Sarah Outen traversed the globe. For her expedition London2London: Via The World, Sarah was the engine, traveling by bike, kayak and rowboat across Europe and Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America and finally the Atlantic. Sarah’s incredible four-year odyssey saw her travel over 20,000 miles. As she migrated between cultures, climates and landscapes, Sarah’s inspirational voyage was followed by thousands, hooked on her infectious humour and love of life. But traveling solo, the trip took its toll, and the punishing elements, ticking clock and months of solitude pushed Sarah to the physical and mental brink. Woven out of hundreds of hours of footage from the expedition, HOME intimately and unflinchingly captures Sarah’s journey: the kindness of strangers, the wonders of the wild, the savagery of the elements, the near-death experiences, the demons of her emotional trauma and PTSD and her discovery of love for a farmer called Lucy. Directed by Sea to Sky local Jen Randall, HOME won the Best Film Exploration and Adventure at BANFF Mountain Film Festival in 2019.

MONDAY, AUGUST 10 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16

PICTURE OF HIS LIFE
2019 | 72 mins | Whistler Premiere | Unrated | Canada & Israel | Dir. by Dani Menkin, Yonatan Nir

Multi-award winning documentary PICTURE OF HIS LIFE follows the frigid journey of world-renowned wildlife photographer Amos Nachoum as he attempts to conquer his final photographic dream remaining – to photograph a Polar Bear underwater while swimming alongside it. No stranger to danger, Amos travels to the far reaches of the Canadian Arctic in search of a Polar Bear to photograph. When the opportunity arises and he jumps into the well below zero arctic waters, the results are more than what he bargained for.

LOST ON EVEREST
2020 | 60 mins | World Premiere | Unrated | United States | Dir. Renan Ozturk

LOST ON EVEREST investigates one of exploration’s most perplexing mysteries: What happened to the great explorers Andrew “Sandy” Irvine and George Leigh Mallory, who disappeared on June 8, 1924, while attempting the first summit of Everest? The clues to solving this mystery lie frozen somewhere near the top of the world’s tallest mountain. The one-hour special, is led by journalist, climber and adventurer Mark Synnott, along with National Geographic photographer, climber and mountaineer Renan Ozturk; they are joined by a world-renowned team of professional climbers with more than 100 combined years of experience on the mountain. Together, they set out to find the body of Everest pioneer Irvine; solve the mystery behind his disappearance; and conclusively determine who successfully conquered the world’s tallest mountain — a feat that would rewrite mountaineering history. LOST ON EVEREST features never-before-seen breathtaking images captured from high-altitude drones and new research from the preeminent Everest historian Tom Holzel, who utilizes state-of-the-art computer software to uncover photographic details. As part of the expedition, Ozturk captured a rare and breathtaking 360-degree panorama photograph of Mount Everest, which was featured in National Geographic magazine in 2019. LOST ON EVEREST  is executive produced for National Geographic by Taylor Rees and Renan Ozturk, who also directs, with Drew Pulley producing. Serving as executive producers for National Geographic are Bengt Anderson and Alan Eyres, senior vice president of production and development.

MONDAY, AUGUST 17 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 23

DAVE NOT COMING BACK
2020 | 92 mins | English Canadian Premiere | Canada | Dir. by Jonah Malak

Two high-level scuba-divers and long-time friends, Don and Dave, broke a world record for depth in the Boesmansgat cave in South Africa. It would take them 15 minutes to reach the bottom, but 12 hours to surface. Having reached the bottom, against all odds, they find a body. They decide to come back and retrieve it. They call the parents, enroll 8 fellow divers, and hire a cameraman to document the dive. The camera will follow them throughout the preparation and the dive, including to the bottom of the cave. Little did they know that on that historic dive, Dave would not be coming back. In this time of over-performance driven by self-promotion and self-filming, comes a story of loss and mourning where egoism and altruism, hubris and self-control, risk-taking and spirituality all go hand in hand. A cascade of choices and tense paradoxes that lead to a tragedy long foreseen, yet impossible to prevent.

MONDAY, AUGUST 24 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 30

WATSON
2019 | 99 mins | Canadian Premiere | Unrated | USA | Dir. Lesley Chilcott

Runner up of the Documentary Audience Award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, WATSON is the quintessential documentary for environmental enthusiasts and activists. Coming out of hiding – Captain Paul Watson, Co-founder of Greenpeace and Founder of Sea Shepherd, grippingly recounts his adventures at sea and the history and work that has gone into the last 40 years of fighting to end the destruction of the ocean’s wildlife and its habitat.

SHORTWORK PROGRAM:

Included in Ticket Packages as bonus content or available for a $20 donation to support WFF’s 20th anniversary

To recognize the vitality and endurance of adventure filmmakers during these unprecedented times, the Adventure Film Series also features five award-winning, BC made short films that previously played the festival.

MONDAY, AUGUST 3 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 30

MADMAN TRAILS OF BHUTAN
2020 | 4 mins | Unrated | Canada|  Dir. Scott Secco

Vancouver based cinematographer and director Scott Secco is back for the second time in the WFF Adventure Film series this time with the visually stunning MADMAN TRAILS OF BHUTAN. Join Wyn Masters, Cody Kelley, and Florent Poilane on a 4-minute adrenaline ride as they explore Bhutan by bike.

COMING HOME – AG TEACHT ABHAILE
2019 | 24 mins | Unrated | United States & Ireland |  Dir. Ryan Scura & Dylan Ladds

Winner of the Best Mountain Culture Film Award at WFF19, COMING HOME tells the story of Paddy O’Leary who grew up in Wexford, Ireland, but didn’t discover his love and talent for running until he moved to San Francisco. Now, he’s returning to Ireland to take on the fastest recorded time on the 115 kilometer Wicklow Round, and to rediscover his home through the lens of running.

NEBULA
2019 | 13 mins | Unrated | Canada|  Dir. Jay Trusler

Nebula received an honourable mention for Best Mountain Culture Film at WFF19 for capturing the jury’s photographic imagination. From Whistler-based director Jay Trusler comes the tale of Whistler-based photographer Reuben Krabbe on his quest to finish his three-part celestial ski photo series. Krabbe ventures into the B.C. backcountry in an attempt to shoot a deep space photo of the Orion Nebula with a skier in the foreground. The pressure is on as Krabbe tries to prove to himself that he can capture another ‘impossible’ photograph.

CALL ME CRAZY
2019 | 20 mins | Unrated | Canada|  Dir. Andrea Wing

From Squamish-based director Andrea Wing and Whistler-based production house Origin, CALL ME CRAZY tells the story of how a young Austrian, with little more than a dream and a love for skiing, became one of the most influential ski pioneers in Canada and the founder of North America’s preeminent heli-skiing operation.

BECOMING HISTORY
2017 | 15 mins | Unrated | Canada|  Dir. Mike Douglas

From longtime Whistler local and professional skier, Mike Douglas comes the story of a group of Whistler legends. Twenty years ago the New Canadian Air Force and Salomon changed skiing forever with the release of the Teneighty ski. The original crew comes together in Whistler to celebrate the anniversary and look back at what has happened in the sport.

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