I remember my first film festival

“Oh come on. It’s one of the nicer strip-malls.” Someone said regarding Whistler village, a mountain resort town in the southern pacific ranges of the coast mountains in the province of British Columbia in the country of Canada on the planet we call… as you can see I was in attendance at the 10th annual Whistler film-festival. Big whoop.

Nothing exclusive. Here’re both the films I saw and the one I intended to see but failed.

That last one, beyond the black rainbow, was the one I missed. It was made by Panos Cosmatos and was described by eyeweekly as “sheer skull-crushing berserkitude”. I’m really hoping to catch it in some other theatre somewhere down the line since I’m sure I must be a fan of a film imbued with something called “berserkitude”. So in the Millennium place theatre at 1830hrs on the Saturday there was a double feature of documentaries categorised in the mountain culture section of the festival. The first was A Life Ascending.


A Life Ascending is a beautifully shot, poignant look at the life of world renowned ski mountaineer and guide Ruedi Beglinger who lives with his family in a chalet he built on a remote glacier in the Selkirk mountains. The film introduces us to Ruedi, his family, his life and work before leading us into the tragic story of the expedition on which he lost 6 people in an avalanche. A Life Ascending is a reflection on mortality, loss, grief, achievement and as it was playing in the Millennium place theatre in the 10th annual Whistler film-festival to a crowd of 200 or so middle aged mountaineers me and Alex were becoming more and more acutely aware that after the credits rolled on this touching masterpiece…there would be us.

Alex’s film was playing in the so-called “mountain culture” section. The festival had approached him rather than the opposite. The avalanche in A Life Ascending was the end of the line for the world famous back country snowboarder Craig Kelly. It also took the life of a Canadian called Dave Finnerty who was good friends with friends of mine and Alex’s from Scotland. They had lived with Dave in New Zealand, which is where Riding the Long White Cloud took place and now here we were by the purest chance in the same theatre with just a couple of degrees of separation in the lives of the people involved in these seemingly unrelated stories. Is this an example of the human mind’s compulsion to see patterns (especially in light of strong emotional stimulus) in an attempt to derive some sense of meaning from the brutal, cruel, apparent chaos that makes up the fabric of the universe or was there some higher order of things attempting to make itself known? Either way it turned out that there was another reason to be in Canada that week.

5 thoughts on “I remember my first film festival”

  1. how can I watch Riding The Long White Cloud outside of the US? any suggestions?

    1. I will maybe make a secret place for it inside this site somewhere. When I do the link will be added to this comment thread.Sent from wherever

  2. man wolfs?? so what was blue valentine like then?? its good to see ryan gosling and michelle williams again since the great 'the united states of leland'

    1. The man wolfs are a fictional skate gang (possibly Canadian?) who live, at least some of
      the time at a compound in a forest somewhere. They seem to have a
      fairly anarchic outlook from what I can tell.
      Blue Valentine was pretty stunning. If the leap from tragedy to comedy
      requires a hyperdrive then their hyperdrive is in really good working
      order. Those 2 actors work great together, there's some really good editing,
      oscar possibilities although i reckon Natalie Portman is ahead for Black Swan.

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