Never a dull moment at Tahoe Adventure Film Festival |

Never a dull moment at Tahoe Adventure Film Festival

Anyone with a passion for adventure or has attention deficit will love this event.

The Tahoe Adventure Film Fest is not your typical drawn-out, somber film festival. Imagine a series of movies where hurling your parachute-clad body off a massive cliff is the least wacky activity on the list. Also known as the “Don’t-Tell-Mom-I’m-Doing-This Fest,” it showcases the best few action minutes from a rowdy range of new sports movies.

Now in its sixth year, the festival typically draws sellout crows. Apparently footage of guys free-falling, back flipping and chasing each other down-slope with helmet cams will never be boring. In addition to helmet cams and heli shots, this year’s footage includes a surf cam and a riverside cable cam. It’s an era when uber-close camera angles add such reality, the audience can feel like participants. Plus, seeing the sport from the athlete’s view is crucial because no one would believe a normal description.

This venture into crazy celluloid is a natural off-shoot of its mad, mad host, Todd Offenbacher (pronounced Todd Offenbacher). If you’ve caught his interviews on Resort Sports Network, you’ll know he’s a sassy, random-brained and off-kilter mega-athlete.

“I got pretty badly injured in 2003,” Offenbacher said. “And when I was laid up, I got this idea for the Film Fest. I wanted to showcase films that would inspire and motivate the athletic community, but make it really friendly and open. At TAFF, the audience gets to meet the stars, meet the filmmakers.”

Since the first showing in 2004, the film festival has snowballed into a great local event. And nowadays, the TAFF is keeping fairly fancy company. Of the hundreds of movies submitted each year, the top eight get boiled down to the best minutes of footage; this year includes offerings from Match Stick Productions, Warren Miller and Teton Gravity Research. Match Stick has had three Emmy nominations for Outstanding Cinematography and is the five-time winner of Powder Magazine’s Movie of the Year.

“This year was so amazing,” Offenbacher said. “Match Stick actually came to us. We get a ton of excellent submissions. And we turn down a ton of great films because in each year. W only want one segment on snowboarding, one on kayaking, you know? It can’t be eight clips on the same sport. We also want one to introduce the crowd to a new sport and they’ve all got to be fast-paced and high-energy. What we want to offer the audience is a combination of good athletic performances, amazing locations, an excellent soundtrack and off-beat camera angles.”

But what RSN’s viewing public may not realize is that Offenbacher is a sort of he-man action figure with a soul – and he brings this to his Film Fest.

“We like to have a theme every year,” he said. “Last year we focused on being green, and we like to make things fun, so it was a bit of a spoof. But we were sincere about the topic. For 2009, since we’ve lost so many athletes this past year, the message is to simply celebrate life.”

Of those friends, Shane McConkey is the most obvious. He was a past keynote speaker and there’s a tribute to him in the film lineup. Add three men from Sender Films – Johnny Copp, Micah Dash and Wade Johnson, plus climber, Ron Bachar, and local skier, Chris Trethaway, and the past few months have seen a huge loss of athletes.

In a sense of trying to offset future backcountry accidents, the film festival has partnered with CALSTAR, a South Shore air ambulance.

“To progress sports, and to push limits is a risky business,” Offenbacher said. “CALSTAR is a perfect partner and they are offering anyone a $35 membership for the year. Think about it: the show sells out at 1,500 people. This is a room full of hard chargers. Odds are pretty good that someone is going to need a helicopter ride this winter. If we can get people to sign up, it helps keep a helicopter in our community.”

Also this year, the TAFF has partnered with the Sierra Avalanche Center to host the raffle held during intermission. Prizes include season passes, heli- and cat-skiing trips, plus enough gear and swag to stock any adventurer enthusiast’s garage. A percentage of ticket sales will benefit both the Avalanche Center and the McConkey Foundation.

Making it all fun are the usual Festival suspects: DJ Kos, go-go dancers, Little John (Offenbacher’s dwarf sidekick) and a photo display of 100 action-adventure shots from Corey Rich’s Aurora Photos. Kirkwood continues as a main event sponsor , and Offenbacher said the resort “really stepped up again this year. It would be very difficult to put this on without their support.”

And it’s reciprocal.

“The Tahoe Adventure Film Festival represents the best in the entrepreneurial spirit in both film and high adventure,” said Kirkwood Chief Marketing Officer Tim Cohee. “The type of people featured in these films, as well as those who come to watch, are the same type of people who appreciate a place like Kirkwood. Todd, Kirkwood, and the TAFF are all cut from the same mold and it makes good sense we are his sole resort sponsor.”

Offenbacher added, “When people leave the festival, I want them to come out with a sense of awe at the progression of these sports. It’s perfect for someone with attention deficit like me – I get to watch just eight minutes of the very best footage. And the beauty of holding this event at Mont Bleu is that we are selling out the biggest showroom in Tahoe. Dress ‘Tahoe Wild’ and be ready for a good time.”

Teton Gravity Research

“Out There”

TGR is on location with the best riders from around the world for the biggest swell to ever hit Tahiti. (13 minutes)

Sender Films

“Alex Honald free solo”

A film that will leave your palms sweating featuring Alex Honald’s historic free solo of two huge big wall classics from Zion to Yosemite. (20 minutes)

Huckin’ Huge


A special TAFF edit of never before seen progressive kayak action from their 2010 upcoming release Haymaker. (8 minutes)

Warren Miller

“Points North Heli Guides”

A great segment featuring Tahoe locals that guide for PNH. Get pumped to win a ski adventure with PNH in Cordova AK after the film! (minutes)

INTERMISSION (15 minutes)

Match Stick Productions

“Shane McConkey”

A tribute to the ski legend. (12 minutes)

Adam and Dave Productions

“Cross Country Snowboarding”

Introduction and insight to another new snow sport. (4 minutes)

Standard Films

Two Special Segments:

Tahoe local Chas Guldemond, and Lonnie Kauk the son of rock climbing legend Ron Kauk. (8 minutes)

Teton Gravity Research – “Re:Sessionn”

16 mm and HD film segment of Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (5 minutes)

All films are available for purchase in their full format from the filmmakers.

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