Five reasons to go to a film festival

Forget Hollywood blockbusters – outdoor film festivals offer movies that truly take you places.
Front row seats. © Tyler Bradt
By Brendan Leonard

Film festival season is in full swing, with many adventure festivals launching and starting tours around the globe. Haven’t been to a tour stop for Banff, Reel Rock, Radical Reels, or the International Freeski Film Festival? Seeing films like 'Cascada' (where we got the picture above) isn't the only reason you should go – here's five more.

1. Get stoked and enjoy the party
You like to watch, don’t you? Of course you do. If you’re not out skiing, climbing, paddling, or mountain biking 40 hours a week (and most of us aren’t), you’re thinking about it.

And it’s all but scientifically proven that watching the people who are good at the things you love—pro climbers floating 9a routes, skiers ripping through chest-deep pow, kayakers hucking 10-story waterfalls—gets you fired up to get outside and do it yourself. And sometimes imagine you’re that famous climber or skier as you do it ...

And even if you're more of a doer than a day-dreamer, you'll still enjoy the surrounding festivities. Just don't enjoy them so much you miss the next day's adventure!

You're gonna have a good time. © International Freeski Film Festival

2. The big screen
You can watch a film of David Lama sending sick lines sitting by yourself in your office when your boss isn’t looking, or at home on your computer in your kitchen. Or, you can go to a film festival and watch a big-screen film of David Lama sending sick lines sitting in a crowd of 1,000 people who love this kind of stuff just as much as you do, quite likely with a cold beer in your hand.

Love the outdoors? These are your people! © International Freeski Film Festival

3. Score gear
Know who sponsors film festivals? Usually a collection of big-name gear and apparel companies. They help filmmakers produce films, help the film festival present the films, and usually have a bunch of backpacks, jackets and other gear—which they give away through raffles during intermission. When’s the last time you got a new soft shell sitting at home watching YouTube?

Check out the newest gear – and maybe score some. © International Freeski Film Festival

4. Hear the stories behind the films
You don’t go to too many Hollywood films and see the director, or the stars of the film, on stage talking about the behind-the-scenes experience of making the film. But that’s exactly what happens at film festivals: your heroes—the climbers, skiers, mountain bikers, and paddlers who make it look so good on the big screen—and film directors show up and share what it was like in-person. And that’s something that doesn’t often show up if you watch the film online.

See the filmmakers present their work. © International Freeski Film Festival

5. Sometimes it’s the only way to see films
Adventure and environmental films can be hard to track down: you can hunt for them online, sometimes buy them on DVD after they’ve finished touring, but often, the unsung gems of film festivals fall into obscurity. A film festival tour stop presents a curated collection of quality films, and you’ll see a ton in two or three hours, for a few bucks—compared to trying to find and watch (or buy them).

Images above courtesy of the International Freeski Film Festival.

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