Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is nine days of films, talks and speakers celebrating mountain film, sports and culture from around the world, and from at home here in Canada. This years VIMFF runs from Feb. 9 – 17 at venues around Greater Vancouver. Tickets are already on sale for the festival, so here’s a list of 12 top films to make sure you catch this year, nine mountain bike or cycling related, and three non-cycling standouts worth a look. If you’re not in Vancouver for this years festival, don’t feel like you’re missing out: many of these films are available online, either through streaming services or through the films website. A number of them are also currently touring, so keep an eye out for dates near you or, if there isn’t a showing scheduled where you are, get in touch and get one organized.
The Frozen Road (BC Premiere)
Director: Ben Page
2017, U.K. (24 min)
As part of his ride around the world, Ben Page sought out complete solitude in the Canadian Arctic. Compelled by Jack London’s assertion, that “any man who is a man can travel alone,” Page is quite successful in finding himself very alone in the unforgiving wilderness of Canada’s North. As for whether the experience matches London’s romanticism for solo travel, well, that’s where The Frozen Road comes in.
Director: Anthill Films
2016, Canada (11 min)
Pro mountain biker Matt Hunter tries to survive a week of bike-packing on the remote Island of Haida Gwaii living entirely off the land. Hunter arrives with survival tools and a plan, but all his food must be harvested along the way in this story about bikepacking, and about how society has become reliant on easy access food.
Director: Anjali Nayar
2017, Canada (8 min)
Jean, a Montreal-based DJ, rides towards Tuktoyaktuk, N.W.T. in a quest to beat the record for longest continuous bike ride in a single article. He’s decided to cover the 17, 000 km on a single speed, fixed-gear bike, with a plan to arrive at the Arctic Ocean mid-winter. Difficulties ensue.
Director: Darcy Hennessey Turenne
2017, Canada (75 min)
Canadian director, Darcy Hennessey Turenne delved deep into the history of freeride mountain biking in B.C. for her full length documentary, The Moment. The type of riding that these B.C. riding crews pioneered is such an integral part of mountain biking now that it’s easy to forget how much resistance freeride faced, even from within the cycling industry. Turenne draws on extensive archival footage and interviews with the now-famous riders and filmmakers to tell the story of how freeride went from extreme fringe to wider acceptance. The Moment is the story of the birth of the sport that nobody wanted.
[Related: Moment premier article]
Intersection: Micayla Gatto
Director: Lacy Kemp
2017, Canada (5 min)
Intersection is a creative piece looking at how Canadian rider Micayla Gatto combines her life as a professional mountain biker and artists. Follow Gatto through this award winning short set in the high alpine and forests of Retallack, B.C.
Blood Road (BC Premier)
Director: Nicholas Schrunk
2017, U.S.A. (96 min)
Ultra-endurance mountain biker Rebecca Rusch has previously documented her attempts to set fastest known times and speed records over ultra-distance routes, but in Blood Road Rusch combines the physical challenge with a personal journey into her family history. Blood Road documents her journey with Vietnamese riding partner, Huyen Nguyen, as they pedal 1,200 miles along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, through Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, towards the site where Rusch’s father, a U.S. Air Force pilot, was shot down 40 years earlier. Part ride documentary, part voyage of self discovery, and part journey into the intergenerational legacy of the Vietnam War, Blood Road is more than your average mountain bike movie.
Ditch the Van
Director: Mallory Cunningham
2017, U.S.A. (10 min)
Ditch the Van documents Ben Sollee’s travels as the cellist disrupts the familiar narrative of the touring musician by ditching the van and touring entirely by bike. Over 5,000 miles of touring with his Xtracycle cargo bike, Sollee slows his journey down enough to start discovering the beauty of limitations.
This Way Up (North American premier)
Director: Andy McKenna
2017, U.K. (25min)
This Way Up is a stark departure from the curated world of Twitter and Instagram in the outdoor industry, focusing on the stories left out in the steady stream of selfies and perfect shots. The film follows professional mountain bike guide, Andy McKenna through his 2007 diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and journey back to riding in his scottish homeland. McKenna’s story of finding the connection between the realities of life and how we deal with them, when coping from behind handlebars is the primary tactic, is a candid, irreverent, and touchingly uplifting story, whether you mountain bike or not.
In Constant Motion (Running, or adventure, or something)
Director: Cameron Sylvester
2018, Canada (15 min)
Canada’s Adam Campbell is one of the world’s top ultra runners, his life one of constant movement. But what happens when the motion is brought to an abrupt halt? In Constant Motion is the story of Campbell’s journey back from a near fatal accident experienced while on a running traverse of Roger’s Pass, B.C. in 2016.
Director: Nicolas Teichrob
2017, Canada (50 min)
The latest ski movie from Dendrite Studios follows B.C. born and raised pro skier Kye Petersen as he attempts to push the limits of big mountain skiing. Numinous is shot entirely in the inspiring and demanding mountain ranges of British Columbia. Having grown up in the B.C. backcountry, Petersen is an incredibly talented skier, but he is also aware that existing in such wild places demands respect, and attention to the environment around him.
Searching for Coastal Wolves in the Great Bear Rainforest (World Premier)
Director: Blaise Sack
2017, Canada (7 min)
Director Blaise Sack follows two childhood friends on a search to find and document the notoriously elusive coastal wolves of B.C. Their search takes them to a remote group of islands 60 miles off the mainland, in the Great Bear Rainforest. With the proposed changes to B.C. legislation around hunting wolves, this is sure to be well attended.
Director: Sebastian Doerk
2014, Iran (8 min)
Three years of planning and 10 years experience in extreme unicycling combine into Lutz Eichholz successful unicycle descent of the Damavand, a 5761 m high peak in Iran.