From the film “Deep North.” (Photo courtesy Corey Rich)
Alert, members of the “tribe” … promoter Todd Offenbacher is summoning you to Mammoth Lakes for his Tahoe Adventure Film Festival, which returns to the Edison Theatre for its second year next Friday and Saturday, March 9-10. Offenbacher’s touring festival collects some of the most extreme outdoor adventure footage ever shot, which he dubs, “the next best thing to doing it yourself!”
Like many East Coast transplants, Offenbacher, a Lake Tahoe resident, hails from the Washington D.C./Maryland area, but has called the Eastern Sierra home for 15 years. “I’m a mountain guy. I love skiing and climbing, and I’ve been to Mammoth a lot,” Offenbacher told The Sheet. He launched the Tahoe Adventure Film Festival in large part because of something that prolific skier and writer, the late Robert Frohlich, told him: “Tahoe needs a good outlet for the tribe.”
The “tribe,” as Offenbacher puts it, is a term Frohlich used to encapsulate the cultural brotherhood and sisterhood of outdoor sports. “I’ve been to the Arctic, the Antarctic, Turkey … it’s a lifestyle I live and love,” Offenbacher enthused. “You meet the most unique people. They come together over the love of sport.”
Offenbacher, who is also a host on the Outside TV network — seen locally on Sierra Wave Channel 33, explained that he runs into “superstars” from various disciplines wherever he goes. “I cross paths with members of the tribe from all over the world … we drink beer, ski, climb, camp together. And wherever you go, there’s shared friendship.”
How does he select the films for the festival’s lineup? “I have a real feel for what people like,” he responded. Among this year’s roster of films:
“Industrial Revolution” is Danny Macaskill’s impressive follow up film after last year’s popular You Tube video, “Way Back Home,” which logged more than 26 million hits. “Cold,” which won Best Adventure Film at the Banff Festival, follows Corey Richards, who became the first American to climb an 8,000-meter peak in Pakistan during winter. Legendary film company Warren Miller Entertainment made the program with “Tribute to Kip Garre” featuring steep heli-skiing in Cordova, Alaska. In “Long-Lining,” Matt Gerdes demonstrates a new type of flight suit during a BASE jump in which he actually GAINED elevation during flight.
Kenny Luby’s “Lundberg Loses It” is an insane slice of ski film in which Eric Lundberg tries not to lose it at more than 70 mph … on asphalt.
But, perhaps the festival highlight is one not mentioned in the press releases, and a film that’s rather personal to Offenbacher: “Deep North.” It’s PARTLY a film about a trip Offenbacher made into the Arctic Circle to climb in Brooks Range, but also a sort of “film within a film … within a film,” as he puts it.
“We had photographer Corey Rich shooting [the team] making a first ascent, but we also had a cameraman shooting Corey shooting us,” he explained. “That gave us a behind the scenes perspective you don’t normally see in these types of films.” But that’s not all … devotees of the Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska” got their own sneak peek at the event, with a camera crew shooting Offenbacher’s camera crew shooting the team! “The whole thing has some really weird layers to it!”
With all this technology, how does he view the evolution of the adventure film as a genre? “The masses have really bought into it,” Offenbacher notes. “You see base jumping and skateboarding and skiing in major motion pictures.” He also lauds the proliferation of smaller, more compact cameras, which have all made movies accessible to the everyday filmmaker. “Warren Miller’s early movies were revolutionary, but they had huge budgets and crews. Today, we have smaller remote control helicopters, which you can mount smaller cameras on, that allow you to get that same sweeping footage for a lot less money.”
All of which lets more exploration of “undiscovered country” for films, such as Antarctica, which has historically been very challenging for filmmakers.
As for this year’s Offenbacher said this year’s Tahoe Festival is guaranteed to impress, inspire and fascinate. “But the main thing is to bring the tribe together and celebrate mountain lifestyle through sport,” he said. “It’s like a tribal council … only with movies. We’ll have everything except the sweatshack. The movies take care of that!”
“The Foundation takes its mission of supporting education and the arts seriously, and hosting a tour stop of Todd’s film series is an opportunity to provide a unique insight into extreme sports that appeals to all ages,” commented Shira Dubrovner, Artistic Director of the Mammoth Lakes Repertory Theatre, who’s presenting the festival in association with the Mammoth Lakes Foundation. A portion of every entry ticket sold over the two days of the festival’s stop in Mammoth at the Edison will be donated to the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center.