5Point Film Festival doubles down for second year in Asheville

MOUNTAIN LOVE: Kyle Dempster is shown in a still from Road From Karakol. The American alpinist, who died in early September while on an expedition in Pakistan, will be honored Oct. 8 at the 5Point Adventure Film Festival with a screening of 5 Ways to Love in the Mountains, in which he's prominently featured. Photo courtesy of 5Point Film

For the inaugural 5Point Adventure Film Festival in Asheville last year, then-Executive Director Sarah Wood was cautiously optimistic regarding its future in Western North Carolina. Though the flagship festival in Carbondale, Colo., organically grew into a four-day event, whether that number made sense for the new Southeastern regional hub would depend on attendees’ response to the initial two-day offering.

The hope was that the 2016 iteration might expand to as many as three days. But turnout and enthusiasm for the first year were so encouraging that 5Point has doubled its stay for round two, which takes place Thursday, Oct. 6, through Sunday, Oct. 9.

“I was blown away by how hungry Asheville was for this event,” says Micah Pulleyn, the Asheville festival’s manager. “The community embraced the events throughout the weekend, primarily the film programs. I had so much positive feedback from people that they were deeply moved by the films we shared.”

After four years with 5Point, Wood recently transitioned to a new career in engineering with Asheville-based Industry Nine Componentry. In addition to overseeing logistics for the local festival and her myriad duties as national events director — including managing the one-night On the Road traveling film series — Pulleyn has absorbed many responsibilities that were once under her colleague’s umbrella. “She leaves some pretty big shoes to fill, that’s for sure,” Pulleyn says.

Pulleyn notes the Carbondale festival is “stacked with special guests, workshops, presentations, panel discussions, podcast recordings and fun activities like dance parties, late-night dodgeball and night rides.” She feels “very confident that Asheville can carry the same weight” of a four-day schedule and is experimenting with its possibilities this year.

Based on strong interest in last year’s Van Life Rally, whose attendees didn’t want the party to close down for the film program, the showcase of livable adventure vehicles has been given its own day on Oct. 6 at Salvage Station. In an effort to not overlap events, the expansion to Oct. 9 honors requests for a second unicycling clinic and a leisurely raft trip. The extra day also provides an opportunity for the community to relax together after sharing the experience of being in Thomas Wolfe Auditorium for two evenings of film programs.

“5Point curates films that go deeper than the traditional ‘action porn’ so celebrated in the adventure film festival industry,” Pulleyn says. “Our films get under your ribcage and offer more of the human experience in their storytelling. Or, we feature films that are beautiful and inspire in ways that make you ask yourself some big questions.”

Along with surprise selections created by local filmmakers and a few premieres, Pulleyn is excited to share Trail to Kazbegi with the Asheville community. Director Joey Schusler and expedition members Brice Minnigh (editor-in-chief of Bike Magazine) and Sam Seward will be onstage to talk about their adventure. They’ll also offer a bikepacking workshop on Saturday, Oct. 8, at Second Gear, to bring their work to life.

“Another film we are honored to bring to Asheville is 5 Ways to Love in the Mountains, a film featuring Kyle Dempster, who died just a few weeks ago while on a big expedition,” Pulleyn says. “Kyle’s film, Road From Karakol, was in last year’s Asheville lineup, and we will pay tribute to Kyle and his spirit Saturday night with some special guests.”

Both film programs will be hosted by local filmmaker, storyteller and community builder Brett McCall. Pulleyn praises McCall’s magnetic stage presence as well as his ability to illuminate the films with articulate comments and inspire special guests with thought-provoking questions.

Entertaining and uplifting as the evening events are in their reflection of the festival’s five (hence the name) principles — balance, commitment, purpose, humility and respect — strong language in some of the films proves a potential deterrent for a family-friendly outing. Filling that void is the Youth Adventure Program on the morning of Oct. 8, featuring films that appeal to a younger audience, including some animated works.

“We like to inspire the next generation with films that are about kids who take risks, ‘go big’ in their own ways and stretch the definition of adventure,” Pulleyn says. “Our mission is to inspire adventure of all kinds, connect generations through shared experience and respect, to engage passion with a conscience and to educate through film.”

WHAT: 5Point Adventure Film Festival
WHERE: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium and other Asheville area sites, 5pointfilm.org/asheville
WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 9. $60 VIP weekend pass/$20 individual night tickets/$10 youth program/ages 12 and younger get in free to all films

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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for ashevillemovies.com and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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