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Wilderness Association brings Backcountry Film Festival to Great Falls this month

Nine films showing at Great Falls College-MSU on Feb. 19

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While nothing can replicate traversing in person the fresh powder sprinkled by the snow gods themselves, later this month the Island Range Chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association offers folks an evening of the next best thing — a set of documentaries showcasing plucky outdoors enthusiasts braving the elements at their most extreme.

The Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival makes a stop in Great Falls on Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. at Heritage Hall on the Great Falls College-MSU campus. Tickets are $9 in advance, $10 at the door. Children ages 12 and under are free.

Advanced tickets can be purchased in advance in Great Falls at Big Bear Sports Center, located at 121 NW Bypass, and Big Horn Outdoor Specialists at 206 5th St. S.

Backcountry film festivalThe films featured are: The Weight of Winter by Ben Sturgulewski, I Love Splitboarding by Right on Brother Productions, Shifting Ice by KT Miller, The Forecaster by Spindle Productions, 55 Hours in Mexico by Joey Schusler,  Connections by Dynafit, Shared Lines by T-bar Films, Always Above Us by Sherpa Cinema and Japan by Van by Sweetgrass Productions. Below are brief summaries of each film being shown.

  • The Weight of Winter (Ben Sturgulewski)

A massive storm consumes Hokkaido, Japan, blanketing everything under wind and clouds and swarms of butterfly-size snowflakes. Three skiers venture out, pushing through the blinding white of this elemental world, finding lightness as the weight of winter presses down. This ski short by Ben Sturgulewski offers an ode to the coldest and darkest time of year.

  • I Love Splitboarding (Right on Brother Productions)

This documentary is filmmaker Sam Giffin’s ode to splitboarding. Mount Baker’s backcountry is some of the most spectacular in the lower 48, tucked away in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. It’s here that splitboarders can still find fresh snow and unridden lines.

  • Shifting Ice (KT Miller)

In March of 2014 six women set sail from Isafjordur, Iceland with the intention of sailing across the Denmark Straight and up the west coast of Greenland. They hoped to explore the remote coastline, pioneer new ski descents, and collect scientific data in some of the most incredible wilderness on earth.

  • The Forecaster (Spindle Productions)

Reading the snow is both an art and a science, but as the promise of deep powder draws more backcountry skiers to Utah’s Wasatch Mountains, avalanche forecaster Drew Hardesty is sharing more than a snow report. He’s speaking out, sharing a message that will change the way you think about skiing in the backcountry this winter.

  • 55 Hours in Mexico (Joey Schusler)

This film explores the limits of the weekend warrior and dives deep into type 2 fun with four friends who take off to Mexico for an outlandish adventure on the continent’s highest volcano, Orizaba.

  • Always Above Us (Sherpa Cinema)

A tale of life, loss, achievement and perseverance, told by climbing legends Conrad Anker and Kris Erickson as they swing leads up Montana’s most famous mixed climb, adding new pitches along the way.

Shot during a record setting deep freeze this past December, the Sherpas rallied down to Bozeman, Montana to document the ascent of the Nutcracker – a new mixed climbing route which is a variation to the infamous climb, Winter Dance, in Hyalite Canyon.

  • Connections (Dynafit)

Dynafit’s Connections is as hort film introducing a team of athletes in the mountains they call home.

  • Shared Lines (T-bar Films)

Shared Lines features the untold stories, forgotten places and authentic characters of the outdoors sports scene.

  • Japan by Van (Sweetgrass Productions)

Pep Fujas, Eliel Hindert, and Carston Oliver spent a little more than a week driving a van around Japan to hike and ski the mountains above the historical village Shirakawa-go. The film features all the things we love about Japan, namely deep snow.

The 11th annual Backcountry Film Festival is,” renowned for its collaboration with filmmakers from all corners of the globe, ranging grassroots to professional,” according to it’s news release. It is, “committed to getting everyone awakened to the powder turns as well as environmental initiatives happening around the world.”
Part one lasts about 47 minutes followed by a 15 minute intermission. Part two is about 50 minutes in length.

For more info on the Island Range Chapter of the Montana Wilderness Association, check out their website here. Check out the MWA’s Facebook page here.

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