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Sudbury Indie Cinema, LU outdoor program team up to create new film fest

Banff Mountain Film Festival has gone virtual, prompting creation of local event 
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A new film festival, Sudbury Outdoor Adventure Reels (SOAR Film Fest), is upon us, and it's coming to the Indie later this month, running Oct 22-24 in-theatre at Sudbury Indie Cinema, and the staff (including director Beth Mairs, back left) want to see you there.

A new film festival, Sudbury Outdoor Adventure Reels (SOAR Film Fest), is upon us, and it's coming to the Indie later this month, running Oct 22-24 in-theatre at Sudbury Indie Cinema.  

Originally scheduled for April of this year, SOAR Film Fest is finally ready to take flight. It’s Northern Ontario’s first adventure film festival, with the impetus coming from the pandemic itself. Laurentian’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program had mounted many successful editions of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour over the years. 

However, with flagship Banff festival and its tour going virtual in 2020 (and quite possibly this year as well), Jim Little, co-ordinator of the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program (ADVL), reached out to Sudbury Indie Cinema’s programmer, Beth Mairs, to help design a new in-theatre adventure film festival together. The result is SOAR. 

“This unique partnership between Sudbury Indie Cinema and the Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program out of Laurentian University is a slam dunk for community engagement as well as student learning and leadership,” said Little.

“What we have done with SOAR is quite distinctive from the Banff World Tour which focuses on short film or modified versions of features. With SOAR, we have mounted a programme of the world’s best feature-length outdoor adventure films, many Banff top award-winners, but we’ve also curated shorts which focus more on activities enjoyed here in Northern Ontario, as well as student films.”

Little said that student involvement has been key as well.

Fourth year ADVL students, Kavan Dobos and Owen Duncan, are both on the festival planning committee. 

After virtual learning the past academic year in a typically very hands-on experiential program, they are both thrilled to be on the ground-level of a new film festival.

“It’s such a gift that we as a community have an opportunity to get together safely and enjoy some amazing outdoor films on the big screen,” Dobos said.

The line-up for SOAR is impressive, and all are Northern Ontario premieres.

The Opening Feature is “The Wall of Shadows” by Paul Saltzman.

This Polish-German-Swiss co-production was Winner Best Doc Film: Bergen International Film Festival 2020, Norway; Winner Best Climbing Film: Banff Mountain Film Festival, 2020; Best International Documentary Nominee: Hot Docs International Documentary Film Festival 2020, Toronto; and Winner, Best Film of the Year: Nordic Adventure Film Festival 2020, Denmark.

When a Sherpa family is asked by a group of westerners to lead a trek up the never-conquered east wall of the imposing Kumbhakarna Mountain in Nepal, they’re confronted with a dilemma. Not only is the summit reputed to be more challenging than Mount Everest, but according to the local Kirant religion, it’s a sacred mountain that is not supposed to be ascended. It plays twice Friday, Oct 22, at 6 and 8:15 p.m.

Another climbing film, “Cholitas”, comes from Argentina. It follows a group of five Indigenous women who summit Aconcagua, the highest point in the Southern Hemisphere. 

They aren’t normally climbers: they are cooks and caretakers for the well-heeled ion treks in the Andes. Winner of Best Film Mountain Culture: Banff Mountain Film Festival 2020; Winner Mountain Category: Diable D’Or prize, International Film Festival Alpine des Diablerets (FIFAD),; Winner Alpine Club Award at the Cervino Cine Mountain Film Festival 2019; Prize Judge’s Prize- Bilbao Mendi Film Festival 2019.

“Home: The Outward Journey Inward” is focused on the incredible adventure of a UK-based woman traversing the globe by bike, kayak, and rowboat, solo. 

It’s also a multiple award-winner: Winner of Best Exploration and Adventure Film: Banff Mountain Film Festival 2019; Winner Feminsta Film Festival 2019; Winner Audience Choice Award: She-Extreme Film Festival 2019; Winner Best Exploration and Adventure Award: Kendal Mountain Festival, UK; November 2019, Winner Female Empowerment of the Year- Nordic Adventure Film Festival, Denmark, November 2019. 

SOAR boasts many more titles, and also recently has added “The Rescue” to close the festival on Sunday Oct. 24. By the makers of “Free Solo”, it's a National Geographic documentary, about the international effort, organized at a feverish pace in June 2018, to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand. 

Winner of the People’s Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature at TIFF last month, this will be the first Northern Ontario festival or theatrical screening.

Find more about the festival on the Sudbury Indie Cinema website.

All-access passes are $50, and tickets for individual screenings are also on sale. To purchase tickets or passes, visit Event Brite.