Lights, camera and a premium on action: Lake Tahoe film fest puts adventure on center stage
Some of the big buzzwords in action sports can prove to be the biggest buzzkill for an adventure movie festival.
“I always kind of liked them, but I’d be personally kind of frustrated,” Tahoe Adventure Film Festival producer Todd Offenbacher said of other mountain film festivals, which slowed the action with spots on environmental responsibility and full-length features — noble but not exactly sexy.
“To me, it killed the tempo,” Offenbacher said. “We need a festival that’s fast-paced and high-energy.
“This is a totally different concept.”
That concept — all killer, no filler — is how Offenbacher tries to set Tahoe apart from the likes of Telluride or Banff. The main event of the fifth annual festival, from 7:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 at the MontBleu Casino Resort and Spa, is chockablock with skiing, snowboarding, BASE jumping, climbing, mountain biking and surfing, with nothing in between to slow the pace.
Two of the highlights come from area filmmakers — the snowboard movie “Hello My Name Is,” and “Linescore,” from Coreshot Films. (See related story.) There’s also an infusion of North Shore flavor with “Seven Sunny Days” from North Shore filmmakers Matchstick Productions, in which Shane McConkey spoofs James Bond.
“It’s nice to have some local films, but part of what we try to do is pick the films so that it’s diverse,” Offenbacher said.
Another highlight is so new it doesn’t have a name: filmmakers Peter Mortimer and Josh Lowell accompanied legendary husband-and-wife rock climbers Tommy Caldwell and Beth Rodden, and BASE jumper and speed climber Chris McNamara, on a float down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. They’re cobbling together a 10-minute piece for the festival from footage that’s just 30 days old.
“It makes our festival very unique,” Offenbacher said. “That footage has never been seen. Tommy Caldwell will be at the festival, and it’s something not even he has seen.”
Organizers will award the Golden Camalot (named after spring-loaded climbing cam), which Offenbacher likened to the festival’s version of the Oscar; Caldwell won last year’s Golden Camalot.
The preparty sets the tone at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, featuring not only a showing by Aurora Photos but break dancers, go-go dancers, DJ Red Dawn and a host of other entertainers festivalgoers might know from years past.
“It’s a real entertainment show, with the photography, with the way the films are selected, with the hired entertainment,” Offenbacher said. … It’s way more than just coming out and seeing movies.”
The festival is shooting for wild and high-energy — but still PG-13.
“I don’t want to make it the kind of thing where you can’t bring a kid,” Offenbacher said.
The Tahoe Adventure Film Festival draws inspiration from actual action and adventure instead of from other film festivals. Offenbacher, a skier and sponsored climber, suffered a ski accident that tore his quadriceps off his knee in 2003. Cabin fever, plus his background as a TV host and producer, provided the inspiration.
“I needed something to keep me from going crazy and I said, ‘You know what, we’ve always needed an event like this,'” he said.
The festival outstripped its first home, at Lake Tahoe Community College, and moved to the casinos. For those who miss the event at the MontBleu, the festival will return to the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno on Jan. 12.
“I’m definitely encouraging people to get their tickets in advance, because I’m sure it’s going to sell out,” Offenbacher said.
Lake Tahoe Adventure Film Festival
Where: Mont Bleu Showroom
When: Doors at 6:30 p.m., main event at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: (800) 648-3353