IT WAS AN AMAZING WEEK 10/30/10 – 11/07/10

Uncategorized on November 12th, 2010 1 Comment

It started Halloween weekend. I brought the whole family up to Banff for the Mountain Film Festival, for what was to be a real homecoming for A Life Ascending. The film was born in Banff four years ago when I had the idea of making a film about the unique life the Beglingers live, with a backdrop of exploring loss and fear and beauty. I was also interested in my own attraction to risk and the affect mountains have on me. RRuedi and Nicoline, met me in Banff and after a couple days together they agreed to allow the project to go forward.
Within a month I was in Revelstoke with Roger Vernon shooting the first week of the adventure. Four days of snow shoveling and I thought, what the hell are we going to do with this: make a tutorial video on how to shovel off your roof, using a rope, a carabiner and a snow blower.
Over the next two years I would go back four more times with Pat Morrow, shooting climbing and skiing and life in the remote wild of Durrand glacier, and interviewing all the residents until they were blue in the face. Somewhere along the way I became convinced I had more than a tutorial. But I wasn’t sure exactly what.
The editing and music were another year and then it was time to let her out into the world.
Well this past week, it found a pinnacle in Banff as all of those days of the journey came flooding back into focus.
The story of the avalanche was a big story in Western Canada when it happened and everyone knows about it up there, so the film was on a lot of people’s radar.
As I walked to the Eric Harvie Theater at the Banff Centre on Saturday morning at around 11, sun shining hard, there was no one outside the building and I had a moment of panic, empty- theater panic.

That ended once I entered the complex and the lobby was packed with people waiting to get in. I was skirted back stage and into the theater to save some seats for my wife and kids and Sarah (the fabulous associate producer of the film). In the empty theater, I also found Roger and Pat, both in for the screening and both looking mountaineer dapper. It was a sweet reunion. Soon the doors were opened and the theater filled. There were about 750 people there, among them some very dear friends, Neil and Sarah Goldblatt and Andy and Betsy Baur who had made the trek from Colorado and Montana respectively.
I introduced the film sharing my excitement at this homecoming and away we went.
This huge projection and incredible sound system made this the purest and most beautiful screening in the life of the film. For me it was astonishing sitting in that theater and feeling the energy and anticipation of the crowd. It truly was a kind of dream come true. There is so much tedious work that goes into a project like this and you often wonder what is the point. But in that hour the point was very clear to me as people laughed and gasped and got quiet at the points I hoped they would.
At the Q and A, The Beglinger family came up on stage with Roger, Pat and me. The audience seemed so moved by the courage of the Beglingers for opening themselves so completely in the film that they rose to their feet in a standing ovation.
We had a reception at Bruno’s Bar and Grill in the afternoon with a number of locals who had helped out in the making of the film, including none other than Ben Gadd the great Canadian naturalist and author whose book is quoted in the movie. Author and mountaineer Geoff Powter also joined us, and Canadian Icon mountaineer Barry Blanchard who were both contributors on the film. We did shots of yager from a ski and celebrated in true Canadian style.
Susan and I left with the kids the next morning to get back to LA in time to go trick or treating. As I left Banff, I wondered when I would have the privilege to be back in those incredible mountains sharing the warmth of these wonderful people.
Wednesday we all flew to Florida for the Fort Lauderdale international Film Festival. Thursday night the film played in the pastel hued and palm tree lined Cinema Paradiso theater to a great crowd of a couple hundred. It was such a great audience who was seeing into a world so different and in many ways unimaginable to them. I flew home on Friday to get back to town for the Ojai Film Festival on the weekend.
And then on Saturday as I was on my way up to Ojai I received an email from Banff: the subject line reading confidential. They were letting me know the film was going to win an award the next night at the closing awards event for Best Film on Mountain Culture.
It didn’t take me very long to figure I had to cash in some miles and fly up for it. I woke on Sunday at 5 and caught a crack-of-dawn flight. So there I was, back in Banff a week after I wondered when I would be there again. I got to the festival Sunday afternoon and it was in full swing, movies playing, people milling about, and a trade shows. I snuck in and found Pat and his amazing wife Baiba, and then found Ruedi and his family. They were all in on the secret. I watched a couple cool films. After a dinner at the Banff Centre with Pat and Baiba, we went to the big theater for the awards evening. This time there was not an empty seat in the house. 1000 people get tickets to this event because after the awards show they screen all the winners.
I had thought the weekend before was beyond imagination but this night would match it. The first award was a grant of $10,000 of post production services for a current or future film given to a film that showed excellence in post production audio and sound design. They gave it to A Life Ascending. Gulp. I was so surprised as I was sitting nervously in the audience trying to think what I was going to say at my award. I walked up there and stumbled out half of that speech knowing I had to save something to say for the next one. They took me back stage, and someone from Timex (one of the sponsors) gave me this really cool expedition watch. (Which my son has his eye on already) They took some pictures and then the Best Film on Mountain Culture award was given so they sent me back out on stage.
I told the crowd I was going to move to Banff and I meant it. In my overwhelmed state I forgot to thank the judges for their voting but I did manage to thank Pat, Roger and then spoke about the courage and openness of the Beglingers and how this film never would have worked without their honesty.
I finally got to sit down again for the rest of the show. And then just as it was winding up they announced the People’s Choice, Audience Award and the film won again. Ruedi came up on stage with me and we had an incredible moment there, sharing in the award. Immediately following the awards, they started the film and ALA was up first. We sat and watched it one more time in that beautiful theater, with that awesome sound system before sneaking out to the festival wrap party. I finally crashed at 1am and woke at 4am to head back to Calgary and fly back to life. It was a truly unbelievable week and one I am still trying to take in.

One Response to “IT WAS AN AMAZING WEEK 10/30/10 – 11/07/10”

  1. Steve Cole says:

    I was at the Festival and the showing of your film after the awards was my first time seeing it. I was only partially aware of Ruedi and his guide service, mostly because of the association with Craig Kelly’s death. I just wanted to pass along my congratulations on the honors and on the film. It was very moving, extremely well made and very deserving of the honors.

    Best wishes for your future endeavors!

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