25 October 2012

Film Review: Endurance at the Adventure Film Festival

On the Camino de Santiago, our own adventure!
A few weeks ago we heard that the Adventure Film Festival would be taking place across the UK and knew we had to check out some of the films. There was a choice of three evenings of film -- High Altitude, Adrenaline, and Endurance. Given our soft spot for long distance cycling we thought we'd give Endurance a try.

There were four films featured in Endurance, three shorter ones and the hour-long Crossing the Ice. We loved Crossing the Ice but were disappointed by the rest of the films, and unfortunately the last film was the worst, leaving us less than thrilled about the evening. But let's start at the beginning.

The evening begain with A Story for Tomorrow, a quick piece that was more about capturing the spirit of a journey than telling any kind of story. I quite liked it, but as it was only five minutes long it didn't leave much of an impression on the night as a whole. Still, it was a nice introduction. It made me look forward to our upcoming adventures, big and small.

Crossing the Ice was next, a great story of two friends attempting to be the first to journey from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole, and back, completely unsupported. This film had it all--humor, pain, suspense, desperation, and kindness. We loved it. Even though their adventures are so much more extreme than the ones we find ourselves on, I could relate to the emotions they experienced. It also convinced me that there is definitely a limit to my own adventurous spirit. My first words to Alberto when the movie ended were, "I am never, ever, doing that."

Next up, and with a tough  act to follow, was Chasing Water, about a man's search for the final destination of the Colorado River. This was an excellent environmental documentary, and it is an abomination that, after millions of years, since 1998 the Colorado River has not drained to the sea due to humans interfering with its flow across the southwestern US. Unfortunately it had virtually nothing to do with endurance, or even adventure for that matter! It just didn't belong.

Finally, there was 5 Races, 5 Continents. Here's where the evening really fell down and left us questioning why we had even come. Instead of being an interesting documentary about trail running, it turned out to essentially be a twenty minute Salomon advertisement. There was no arc to the story, just a series of interviews with sponsored trail runners, interspersed with admittedly impressive shots of the scenery through which trail runners get to travel every day. It did serve the purpose, however, of reminding us why we stick to Audax UK and our own touring events rather than sportives or even charity rides. The commercialisation that is a big part of lots of sports these days is just not appealing to us. We prefer the non-profit mutualism of the audax/touring community.

With the final film making us question even whether the film festival was too commercially oriented for our tastes, we were less than wowed with our evening. Still, it gave us lots to think about as the 2012 season comes to a close, as we start planning our own adventures for 2013!

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