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Colorado adventure film focuses on risk/reward of extreme skiing

"Earthside," film about wintry mountain adventure, part of Boulder International Film Festival
"Earthside," film about wintry mountain adventure, part of Boulder International Film Festival 02:02

Colorado director Robert Wassmer is screening his new, short film in the Adventure Pavilion at Boulder International Film Festival. "Earthside" is set on Baffin Island in Canada. It's an artic playground. Four female ultra-athletes spend three weeks climbing and skiing the fjords. The North Face captured the expedition and turned it into a 30-minute movie.

"We're a brand that stands for exploration," said Wassmer, who co-directed the film.

Mathius Dumas, Nick Kalisz, Jordan Manoukian

The first challenge for the team was just getting there. It took six days of travel and 14-hours on a snowmobile that's before they even started skiing.

"There were hardships in the sense of the physicality, overcoming something that has never been done before," Wassmer explained.

The trip required all their skills: ice climbing, alpinism, rock climbing, and skiing.

"It's a film about determination. It's a film about complete concentration on something," he said.

It's a film about the success and rewards that come from that kind of focus.

"I think being able to tell that on the stage where the risk is so high, the conditions are so brutal, I think it allows those larger ideas to be communicated with more clarity just because you see what's at stake," Wassmer said.

The focus of the film changed slightly. Two months after the expedition, team member Hilaree Nelson died on another adventure on Mount Everest.

"You have to take risks if you want to learn anything about yourself. You have to take risks if you want to expand the self-imposed walls that we put around ourselves," Nelson said during one of her interviews for the movie.

Mathius Dumas, Nick Kalisz, Jordan Manoukian

"I think the other half of the film is being able to immortalize someone through story," Wassmer explained.

"Earthside" explores larger themes through a niche adventure experience with the goal of inspiring all of us to take a risk.

LINK: Boulder International Film Festival

The Boulder International Film Festival opens March 1, 2024 with a screening of "Ezra." Actor/director Tony Goldwyn flew in the Boulder to speak after that screening. "Earthside" is screening as part of a series of four short films at the Adventure Film Pavilion. Biff runs through Sunday, March 3, 2024. 

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