Podcast: Sports & outdoors films to check out at the Breck Film Fest
BRECKENRIDGE — When a film festival calls Summit County home, it’s no surprise when many of its films have connections to sports, recreation and the outdoors. In its 39th year, next week’s Breck Film Fest (Thursday, Sept. 19 through Sunday, Sept. 22) will showcase a few films centered around sports and several more that have core themes elsewhere but are tethered to the outdoors or recreation world.
“The difference between us and Sundance,” said the festival’s marketing and development manager, Ashley Hughes, “is we leave the glitz and glamor at home but rock the hiking boots.”
Hughes said of this year’s 601 submissions — 100 films are annually accepted for the festival — about 20% of those were about sports and the outdoors or had sports and outdoors elements to them. That includes some of the most highly anticipated films at this year’s festival, including festival closer “Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable,” a 99-minute film about a 13-year-old surfer who didn’t let a shark attack stop her from achieving her dream of surfing competitively.
“It’s both incredible from a physical standpoint,” Hughes said of Hamilton, “and all of the emotional and mental barriers that needed to be conquered to do that. It’s also quite cool that we are bringing in the director, doing a Q&A, talking about fusing all of those incredible film edits with telling a narrative.”
Hamilton’s film — screening Sunday, Sept. 22, at The Riverwalk Center at 6 p.m. — is far from the only inspiring sports story to air at the festival. A film in a similar spirit, “A Grand Journey,” will kick-off the festival’s “Adventure Block” 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, at Colorado Mountain College. The 15-minute short tells the tale of Jackson, Wyoming local Kira Brazinski who, due to a rare birth defect, uses a prosthetic leg. Despite the impairment, Brazinski embarks on her childhood dream of climbing Grand Teton.
That three-film Saturday “Adventure Block” will be a must-watch for Summit County sports fans. “A Grand Journey” will be followed by a 22-minute film about a member of the U.S. Men’s Raft team, Rob Prechtl, embarking on a journey of his own to learn the craft of outrigger paddling. It will conclude with another one of the films Hughes is most excited about, the 45-minute “B’Hike & Base Jump Across the Alpes.” “B’Hike” stands for “bike and hike.”
“He wants to figure out how to get to Switzerland from France by means of biking, hiking and base jumping,” Hughes said of the film’s protagonist, the 27-year-old Franck. “So it’s pretty intense. He covers 1,200 kilometers, he does 20 base jumps in the film, which is just insane to me.”
Hughes said Saturday’s Adventure Block speaks to the spirit and style of the festival as it nears its 40th year. With the 40th anniversary on the horizon, Hughes said she and colleagues at the festival are working to build off of the festival’s renowned “Adventure Block” and “Adventure Reel” programming to amp it up further.
Click on any of the below films to see trailers and for more information
FRIDAY SEPT. 20
9 a.m., The Speakeasy Theater
103 S. Harris Street
“Carry My Heart to the Yellow River,”
22 minutes as part of block of six films
11:45 a.m., The Speakeasy Theater
“The Wild,” 60 minutes as part of block of 2 films
2:15 p.m., The Speakeasy Theater
“Hiko in Tonga,” 60 minutes as part of block of two films
4:30 p.m., The Speakeasy Theater
“Runner,” 88 minutes
7:30 p.m., Riverwalk Center
150 W. Adams Ave.
The Adventure Reel
“The River and the Wall,” 100 minutes
SATURDAY SEPT. 21
9 a.m., Colorado Mountain College
107 Denison Placer Road
“Motherload,” 87 minutes
3 p.m., Breckenridge Theater
“Breaking Their Silence: Women on the Frontline of the Poaching War,” 110 minutes
7 p.m., The Speakeasy Theater
“Buck Run,” 82 minutes as part of block of two films
SUNDAY SEPT. 22
6 p.m., The Riverwalk Center
“Bethany Hamilton, Unstoppable,” 99 minutes
Hughes hopes it will include working more directly with a multi-platform media company like Red Bull Media House to incorporate more adrenaline-laced sports videos that Hughes feels would resonate with the people of Summit County.
“We’d be working with them a little bit on creating that adrenaline series,” Hughes said, “because we’ve decided there is a difference between adventure and adrenaline. Adventure for us is, like, this year we have ‘The River and The Wall.’ It has the sports context of horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting. But it also has this major thought-provoking component on the impact of the border wall on the Rio Grande. So, not only are they going through uncharted waters, but it’s uncharted emotions of political turmoil.”
“The River and The Wall,” will screen at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Riverwalk Center. When it does, Hughes anticipates festival goers will be awestruck at conservation filmmaker Ben Master’s jaw-dropping glimpses of some of this country’s wildest southern borderlands.
There are two more sports films Hughes is elated to screen at this year’s festival: The 88-minute human spirit documentary “Runner” and the 22-minute “The Cricket Kings of Queens.” The latter will commence the “Alt Sports” block of two films on 9:15 a.m. Friday at the Breckenridge Theater. The film tells the story of three immigrant cricketeers in Queens, New York aiming for an undefeated season.
And then there’s “Runner,” perhaps the film Hughes is most excited about. That’s partially because the athlete the film chronicles, Guor Maker, will be in attendance to view the film, which details his journey from refugee to world-renowned athlete.
“His life story may bring tears to your eyes,” Hughes said. “…I think it shows just how impactful sports can be outside of the discipline of athletics, and how much power it has in the outside world.”
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