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Adventure Film Series puts the 'go' in Great Outdoor Festival

Whistler Film Festival shows 20 films from five countries during May long weekend festival
Sky to Sea Seb Kemp and Dave Roth leave snowy Whistler on the first day of their 12-day tour of coastal B.C. in the documentary The Escape, part of the Adventure Film Series. Photo by Union Production co.

Few entertainments get the Whistler crowds whooping like a smokin' excellent and slightly bonkers sportsman (or woman) sending a route or routine in their sport of choice.

So there should be a lot of audience noise during the inaugural Adventure Film Series put on by the Whistler Film Festival (WFF), which is part of the new Great Outdoors Festival (GO Fest).

WFF is offering a 20-film lineup from five countries — Canada, U.S., New Zealand, Australia, and Ireland — all being shown over the four days of GO Fest from May 16 to 19.

The movies cover a wide array of outdoor action, all of which are regular draws around Whistler and the Sea to Sky region, including sailing, surfing, rock and alpine climbing, freeskiing, mountain biking and paddling.

Seb Kemp, whose 17-minute film The Escape (2013) looks at two cyclists circumnavigating the Sea to Sky and Strait of Georgia region in the middle of winter, said it was great to "bring the film home" to Whistler for the first time.

"It's the hometown and where our journey started," Kemp says.

"With The Escape we wanted to do several things. We wanted to show that there's a lot of variety in terms of what happens in winter in B.C. There is all this other mountain biking that can happen in the depths of winter, and we wanted to show people outside of B.C. how deep the mountain biking culture goes here."

The Escape during the Mountain Biking Showcase of short films at Millennium Place on Saturday, May 17, at 7 p.m.

Other films include: The Summit (2012), which opens the series at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 16. It is an award-winning documentary about the brutal loss of 11 climbers on K2 in the Himalayas in 2008. Eighteen climbers went up one of the world's hardest mountains that day, and survivors reflect on the experience.

A powerful film on Saturday, May 17, at 1 p.m. is Desert Runners (2013), which shows a diverse cast of non-professional runners attempting to complete the most difficult ultra-marathon series on Earth. It's a look at the mindsets of athletes taking on the hardest of challenges.

Another feature is Maidentrip (2013), the story of 14-year-old Laura Dekker, who set out on a two-year voyage to circumnavigate the world by sailboat on her own. That will be shown on Saturday, May 17, at 4 p.m.

Other films include shorts in Reel Rock 8, with the best recent climbing films, and Sport Shorts on Sunday, May 18, which has films on surfing, skiing and more.

All films in the series will be shown at Millennium Place, and are family friendly, rated G or PG, and Whistler premieres.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for kids under 12. Passes for the whole weekend cost $60.

The Adventure Film Series is a step forward for WFF, says executive director Shauna Hardy-Mishaw. With the recent refurbishment of the Rainbow Theatre and the current installation of a new digital film system, she says the plan is to run similar series throughout the year, including a children's film festival in October.

The Rainbow Theatre is not available for 2014 GO Festival, but will be ready for future plans.

"Our hope is to do a bunch of film series throughout the year. The Adventure Series is one of them; we're also going to do a kid's film festival over the October long weekend. We've got some other things that are thematic," Hardy-Mishaw says.

"We're hoping to run films on Saturdays, as many as possible throughout the year. Then we'll hopefully do some other programming, over holiday periods and things like that. It helps us build capacity for our organization and that's really critical for success because not only does it increase our programming or our profile in the resort, it builds our capacity. Teaming up with GO Fest is such a great fit and we are really happy."

More information on the films is available at