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A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon


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Adventure Travel

Oct 18, 2017

EOFT is Back With 7 of the Year’s Best Adventure Films

The European Outdoor Film Tour or EOFT for those in the know, Europe’s largest outdoor film event is playing once again across 300 locations in 14 countries.

WRITTEN BY

Apoorva Prasad

Here’s our review of this year’s selection. Keep reading for a chance to win free tickets! You can also click here to find a screening near you.

Choices
The show begins with ‘Choices’, an emotionally-charged portrait of Steph Davis – American climber, BASE jumper and wingsuit flyer. Steph rose to serious prominence sometime in the early 00s thanks to her ever-increasing list of achievements, as well as the fact that she became one half of a famous couple – her late husband, the inimitable Dean Potter, kept the climbing world equally, if not more riveted.

But Steph has suffered several tragedies (read our review of Steph’s second book, ‘Learning to Fly’). Both her former spouse and second husband died in separate wingsuit accidents. As Steph climbs and BASE jumps in the film, her current partner reiterates that Steph’s choices in life are driven by her desire to constantly seek ‘ultimate freedom’. “Climbing makes me happy”, she says, and while that might sound simplistic to some, maybe even juvenile, in reality, it is a very deep and powerful statement when we drive deeper into the meaning of a life lived to the limit of absolute freedom. A great film on why outdoor athletes do what they do.

Ice Call
Short film on the European Outdoor Film Tour following Sam Favret freestyle skiing inside the giant Mer de Glace glacier, like it’s some kind of grownup terrain park. Whoa.

Follow The Fraser
A bunch of downhill mountain bikers downhill mountain bike some biggish hills in Canada. “The closest you’ll get to skiing with two wheels”. Nice shots. ’Nuff said.

Dug Out
“Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”, and our two British lads decide to not prove Noel Coward wrong by heading off into the Amazon jungle of Ecuador to live with the remote and isolated Huaorani tribe, where they ‘befriend the natives’, chop a tree, build a dugout canoe and paddle down the river back to civilization. Simple, right? (This reminds us of our very own Brit kayakers exploring and paddling remote rivers across India.)

Of course, hilarity ensues, including nakedness and survival on banana-water and maggots. The film ends on a deeply troubling, somber note, reminding us that the Amazon is today under a deep and existential threat from oil and logging interests. One of the best films of the tour.

Into Twin Galaxies
The world’s only female Master Polar Guide Sarah McNair-Landry (read an exclusive interview with her here), and two dudes decide to kite-ski across the Greenland ice cap so that they can maybe, possibly, kayak a river they think they might have spotted on Google Earth. Erik Boomer and Ben Stookesberry went on Google and found a meltwater stream from a Greenland glacier they thought they could make a first kayak descent of.

So they got Sarah involved as the experienced expedition guide, took a boat to the eastern edge of Greenland, to travel 1000km across on foot dragging their kayaks and supplies to the western edge to a place they call “Twin Galaxies” (no, it’s literally just a location on a map with no inhabitation or life of any sort). Is this river actually flowing? Is it even kayakable?

They don’t really know. Kiteskiing across the ice cap is the only way to do it without support; and well, I guess it does make it more of an adventure. Unfortunately, <<SPOILER ALERT>> on Day 3, Sarah’s safety gets stuck during a gust of wind and she breaks her back… But they carry on. <<END SPOILER ALERT>>. Of course, to kite-ski you need wind, and some days there just ain’t any, so each person just has to haul that 100-kilo pig with their kayak, sled and supplies. On other days it’s booming, so they do “10-on, 2-off” – ten hours moving, two hours resting, repeat.

My level-headed hiking friend next to me whispered that she couldn’t understand what drove these people. It seemed a bit too insane for her. But rest assured, it’s a beautifully shot movie and I’d watch it again.

Ushba
My heart skipped a small beat when the lineup announced Ushba, a movie about skiing in Georgia. I was in Georgia last year, in Mazeri village at the base of Ushba and I’ve been worryingly developing an obsession with this peak, and this part of the world.

Unfortunately, after the epic nature of the previous films from the European Outdoor Film Tour, this seemed to be a pretty random, “dude, that was extreme!” kind of film with some good images of skiing, but an abrupt shift from the pensive, exploratory and environmental nature of some of the other films.

Good shots made want to get back to surfing some snow soon, but I could barely tell if they were even on Ushba, fearsome killer mountain, testing ground of Mikhail Khergiani, Tiger of the Caucasus? A bit unfortunate.

MARKUS EDER, SVANETI, GEORGIA

La Congenialita
The legendary Italian mountaineer Simone Moro has one of alpinism’s most storied careers, as the only person to have made first winter ascents of four of the world’s eight-thousanders. This film about the relationship between him and his much younger climbing partner, Tamara Lunger, 30-year old ski alpinism champion during a 2017 expedition to attempt the world’s highest traverse on the Kanchenjunga massif, shows how the mentor-mentee equation has begun to invert with the passage of time. Touching and also one of the best films of the tour, especially for anyone who’s followed Moro’s career.

And if you haven’t already seen it, here’s the trailer:

All images copyright the photographers / EOFT 17/18.

Love the outdoors? Love good cinema? We’re giving you and a friend the chance to get FREE PASSES!*

Step 1: Subscribe to our newsletter here.
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*Competition Rules & Guidelines:

· Entrants must follow The Outdoor Journal’s Facebook Page and publicly share the competition post on their profile. Entrants must also subscribe to The Outdoor Journal’s email newsletter, and request access to the Facebook group “The Outdoor Voyagers”.
· Entrants must clearly enter their complete name and email address on the subscription form. Incomplete or inaccurate entries will be rejected.
· Only one entry per person. All eligible competition entrants must be at least 18 years of age.
· The winners will be randomly selected via a draw on Monday, October 30th, 2017. Two attempts will be made within 24-hours to contact the selected winners via the provided email. If at the end of the 24-hour period the winner has not replied, another winner will be contacted and the process will repeat until winners are selected.
· The winner must present a valid form of identification in order to collect the passes at the screening of their choice.
· Winners may choose from any of the approximate 300 screenings of their choice in Europe.

· The Outdoor Journal does not accept liability for any lost, stolen, unclaimed or expired prizes. Any unclaimed or expired prizes will be retained by The Outdoor Journal. The winner agrees to allow The Outdoor Journal to publicly use their name and likeness in association with the competition and agrees to present The Outdoor Journal, EOFT and any other partners in a positive light in any interviews, social media posts or other public communication now and in perpetuity.

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Video

Dec 06, 2018

Film Review: Ode to Muir. A Snowboarding Movie, and an Important Covert Education

Lost in amazing scenery, and one of outdoor's great personalities. Prepare to learn, even if you won’t realize it’s happening.

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WRITTEN BY

Sean Verity

Before we get to the movie itself, don’t be put off by the narration that you’ll hear in the trailer. It’s a tone that you might expect from the X-Factor announcer, or any movie trailer that starts off with, “In a world…” and it’s important to give you an incentive to push on, in case you might need it.

To answer the question that I suspect you have… yes, the same narration continues throughout the film. I know, it doesn’t seem like a good thing, but I have my own personal relationship to that voice. Something that develops as the film continues, and you recognize its purpose.

WHAT WERE WE EXPECTING FROM “ODE TO MUIR”?

The film is called “Ode to Muir”, so an education about John Muir and the John Muir Wilderness? Probably. Great scenery? Sure. Another awesome Jeremy Jones snowboarding video? Very likely! I was correct on 2 of 3 fronts.

“Price of admission: lots of calories”

In short, this is a nine day, 40 mile foot-powered trek through the Sierra Mountains, as two-time Olympian Elena Hight, and a guy introduced as the “Sierra Phantom” accompany Jeremy Jones deep into California’s John Muir Wilderness. The remoteness is exactly that, and it is earned. Jeremy takes joy in mentioning the “Price of admission: lots of calories”. His point is a good one, that this is something that we can all enjoy. Crest after crest, the views are stunning and beautifully shot (as you might expect from a Teton Gravity movie). Jeremy indulges himself in pointing across valleys, and announcing that they must make their way in that direction. By his own admission, he has spent a lifetime in the Sierra, and continues to see landscapes the first time. The outdoors is a big place. 

Of course, Jeremy Jones does not need any introduction. His snowboarding movies have adorned bookshelves around the world for decades now. This, however, was something different. It was something more important. There is less of an emphasis on the music, or even snowboarding (don’t expect death-defying descents here). Instead, you will find more of an emphasis on Jeremy, the landscape, and more than anything else, Jeremy’s message. This is propaganda, just the positive kind.

Ode to Muir is a little like trying to subtly slip the bad news into an everyday sentence using snowboarding to distract us. “Honey, have we got milk at home, I crashed the car, because my parents are coming around this evening”.

Note: Whilst this is not your typical snowboarding movie, I could still hear the customary Jeremy Jones’ oooohs and ahhhhs from those sat around me.

THE MESSAGE

Time is spent on recalling a bygone era, when politicians spent time in the outdoors, they appreciated them and fought for them. They sat around fires, and really experienced the outdoors, they didn’t just swing clubs at The Mar-a-Lago Club. This movie is a call to action, that we must do something now, but gives us hope, that things can be done correctly, with the attitude that we have seen in presidents past. 

The movie is interwoven with animations that paint an important, and scary picture with regards to the future of our climate and planet. Key messaging that continually remind you that this is not just a snowboarding movie. This is an education, but not algebra, the information is presented well, it sinks in and you immediately recognize the importance. You’re going to bring this up and discuss these newfound stats when you’re next hanging out with friends.

Whilst the animations play an informative role, Jeremy contextualizes them. He refers to the terrifying term “last descents”, the chilling concept that people are now doing things that might not be possible in subsequent years due to climate change. As someone who lives in the outdoors, Jeremy can see these detrimental changes in his everyday life, and of course, it means a great deal to him. He isn’t just using what he is, but who he is to pass on this important information. Not stood behind a podium, but communicating important information to us whilst he uses his skills, and the beautiful shots to hold our attention. Jeremy obviously loves what he does, but he now chooses to do what he has done for so long, in such a way that communicates an important message. It’s commendable. What’s more, this isn’t a one-off, Jeremy is the founder of “POW”, or “Protect Our Winters”, an initiative with a mission to turn passionate outdoor people into effective climate advocates.

Find out more about POW: Protect Our Winters.

Still, an important point is made, real change can unfortunately only be sparked in the wilderness. Walking up the mountain isn’t enough, we need to walk up to the White House, and up Capitol Hill too.

THE PERSONALITIES

“The older I get, the more I love my snow”

A great element of this movie is easy to miss, Olympian Elena Hight trying to understate her own abilities. Elena is, of course, a very accomplished snowboarder, she’s more than comfortable on the snow and her modesty with regards to split skiing wasn’t fooling anybody. It’s an attitude that is great to see, but will make your average Joe, with your average abilities (like me), smile. Her reservations regarding her own ability are not shared by anybody else. Nor were there any problems for Elena when it came to the descents. She’s awesome, and a great addition to the film.

Jeremy introduces the “Sierra Phantom” pretty quickly. In effect he’s presented in a way that you would describe what Mogli is to the jungle, “ he’s out there all day and you just see his tracks”. A brief appearance, but worthwhile. 

Elsewhere, there are laughs from those who are sat around me watching the movie, as Jeremy reaches the crest of ridge and summits alike. You might expect “f*ck, that was hard” or “Jesus, I need some air” but no, invariably you will only hear “Good job”, another “Good job”, or “The older I get, the more I love my snow”. As impressive as Jeremy’s attitude is, and of course, it’s due to his familiarity with something that he has done for so long, it is also the relaxed nature of those that that summit with him. You won’t hear them telling JJ to “shut up and pass me the water”, it’s all fist bumps!

The movie ends with JJ suggesting a moonlight ride, to “get the last bit out of it”; spare a thought for those that might have fancied an early night. You would really have felt for the production team, had it not been for the stunning shots caught under moonlight. As someone who can relate to these guys, they live for such shots, and wouldn’t have required much encouragement. Not that their skill shouldn’t be acknowledged, something special is happening behind the camera. Many of the shots are powerfully engaging, whilst the audio is picked up perfectly, regardless of powder being thrown around.

BACK TO THE NARRATION

Here’s the thing about the narration. What would the movie be without it? Whilst Jeremy brings credibility as someone who is acutely aware of “last descents”, John Muir’s words hold unparalleled sincerity that can only belong to a different time – a time when people were less cynical, and in this context, given that this is propaganda, a perspective from that time counts for something.

I had a relationship with that voice. So much so, that I almost felt apologetic by the end. In a way, the voice is synonymous with the film, you need to absorb the delivery in order to absorb the information. It was just harder to do so in comparison to appreciating fresh pow.

Who would I recommend the film to? People who like ski docs? People who care about the environment? Just general outdoorsy people? It’s of interest to each, they all cross-pollinate in a way that was definitely intended.

This is an important film to watch, it’s incredibly digestible, and it will raise awareness of important issues. It’s the kind of content that we need more of.

You can find more information, and a calendar of tour dates should you like to go and watch the movie for yourself here. We encourage you to do so.

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