Jackson, Wyoming — March 18th, 2007 — Organizers of the 2007 Alpinist Film Festival announced today that The Aerialist won the People’s Choice Award for its third annual Stone Night, the closing night of the 2007 Festival. As it was the previous two nights, the event was sold out days in advance with a long queue of patient individuals waiting to purchase tickets.
The Aerialist held its world premiere at the Festival and was presented in person by climbing provocateur Dean Potter and filmmaker Brad Lynch. While interweaving footage from some of Potter’s most dangerous endeavors, the film concerns his desire to fly while also paying homage to a late friend shared by many. Throughout its screening gasps could be heard among the captured audience as Potter free soloed deathly heights, slacklined among the high rocks of Utah, and base jumped from some of the world’s highest and most dangerous peaks.
“I was speechless after seeing the film,” said Alpinist Film Festival Founder and Alpinist Editor Christian Beckwith. “Actually, I still don’t even know what to say. The two definitely worked up the audience.”
Unlike other films accepted into the Alpinist Film Festival’s lineup, the film was accepted without being screened by members of the Festival’s board. Rather, it was accepted on the trust of what Potter and filmmaker Lynch could pull together in the time that remained until the evening of the event.
“We got the film literally hours before the event, nobody from the Alpinist Film Festival having even seen the film,” said Festival Producer Wayne Roberts. “Of course after seeing the film I was shocked, not only by the footage obtained by Lynch and others, but also due to the quality of the filmmaking. They deserved to win this award. Hands down.”
Local filmmaker Jennifer Tennican presented her film Benedictus/Masterpiece, which placed in second for the People’s Choice Award. The film chronicles a seven-year obsession of Tom Callaghan as he and others scale the “Big Wall” section of Cannon Cliff in New Hampshire.
Colorado-based filmmaker Chris Alstrin was also on hand to present the world premiere of his film Black Canyon. Taken from his feature film Higher Ground, the footage features lifelong climbing partners Josh Wharton and Phil Gruber as they climb the 2,000 foot trad route Free Nose.
Touching My Self, directed by Alastair Lee and David Halsted, helped bring down the house with its offbeat humor. Also notable was the United States premiere of Ermanno Salvaterra’s Cerro Torre: El Arca de los Vientos, which captured the director, Exum mountain guide Rolo Garibotti, and Alessandro Beltrami as they completed the infamous Cerro Torre climb and helped put to rest one of climbing’s greatest myths. The film came in a close third to receive the coveted People’s Choice Award.
“The success of all three nights is really quite remarkable,” said Beckwith. “One night alone seemed to hold all the energy and excitement capable of a three day event, yet, once again, our loyal fans surprise us by their passion for the arts.”
Potter agreed with the success of the Festival, saying that “once again, Alpinist proves that they are the true custodians of the climbing culture. What an honor to be given an award by an event that is so clearly all about soul.”
After the evening’s films concluded, the 2007 Alpinist Film Festival held its closing party in the lobby of Jackson’s new $35 million Center for the Arts. Beer from New Belgium was served and music from Four4 Productions helped fill the expansive lobby with dancing fans, the party running late into night. The last of the auction items were finally sold, which, in conjunction with the efforts of the Alpinist Film Festival, helped raise over $6,000 for One Percent for the Tetons.
“A lot of hard work went into this year’s Festival,” said Beckwith. “Thousands of hours made it all possible, many of which was generously donated, and yet I know that when those lights first hit the screen, all that stood behind that moment was suddenly made worthwhile.”
“Thanks should also be given not only to the volunteers and presenters, but to the audience, to the fans of the Alpinist Film Festival,” Beckwith continued. “Without them the Festival would not have come off as wonderfully as it did. It is they who truly deserve the thanks to creating the best Alpinist Film Festival yet.”