This Thursday will see the return of the Backcountry Film Festival to Sun Valley. The 15th annual festival will screen a collection of 10 short films, ranging in run time from three and a half minutes to 32 and a half minutes.
The film festival is organized each year by the Winter Wildlands Alliance, a national nonprofit organization committed to the preservation of, as one may infer from the group’s name, winter wildlands.
Just as the alliance boasts a nationwide area of focus in its preservation efforts, so too does the film festival tour widely all around the country.
The festival visits more than 110 cities in the United States and Canada (plus Melbourne, Australia), spreading the joy of backcountry adventure and a palpable appreciation of all the natural world has to offer to explorers, outdoor sports enthusiasts and any with a love of the environment.
Winter Wildlands frequently partners with local nonprofits in areas the festival visits to raise funds to benefit grassroots initiatives that align with the organization’s goals.
“As a national nonprofit with a staff of six, WWA partners with boots-on-the-ground organizations to provide assistance and star power behind any policy and advocacy initiatives,” said Melinda Quick, the organization’s festival and membership manager. “We work to protect winter adventures in our backyards as well as access to any wild destination someone could dream up.”
Proceeds from the Sun Valley screening benefit the Nordic and Backcountry Skiers Alliance, a member of the Wood River Valley Winter Recreation Coalition that partners with the likes of the Sawtooth Snowmobile Club, Blaine County Recreation District and the U.S. Forest Service to preserve winter recreation zones in the Wood River Valley and Sawtooth National Forest.
The 10 films coming to Sun Valley this week cover a variety of backcountry concerns and activities, all under that umbrella of the great outdoors.
“The 15th annual season lineup includes documentaries and ski movies about athletic pursuit in the mountains, artistic vision, friendship and how the snow sports community is adapting to a changing environment,” Quick said.
“Endless Winter: Chapter 1” takes a deep-dive approach to analyzing the carbon footprint of skiing and how to reduce it. “KHUTRAO” follows a group of split-boarders through the Mapuche ancestral lands of Chile. “Colter: A Legacy of Adventure” retraces the path of John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, through Yellowstone and the Tetons.
These are but a few of the subjects touched upon in the Backcountry festival. From Chile to the Alps, from Alaska to Everest, the films take the audience on a trip around the world to some of the most breathtaking and remote slices of backcountry paradise out there.
“The Backcountry Film Festival features films about human-powered winter recreation in order to further our messaging around the importance of preserving wild winter landscapes and also inspire folks to get out there on their own power and experience,” Quick said. “Even more importantly, we help these local organizations raise awareness and funds that go directly back into their communities.”
The Backcountry festival is screening at the Sun Valley Opera House on one night only, Thursday, Feb. 20. Doors will open at 6 p.m. with the screening following an hour later.
Admission costs $15 per person. Tickets can be purchased online at eventbrite.com or in person at Backwoods Mountain Sports and The Elephant’s Perch, both in Ketchum. Some tickets will also be available at the door.
Learn more about the films and the organization at winterwildlands.org.