If you go
What: Reel Rock 12, the nation's leading adventure film festival. Four short films will debut in Boulder before showings in 500 locations across the nation. The film screenings will be following by the Reel Rock Fest that weekend, with clinics, a climbing competition and trail building.
When: Nov. 3 at 3, 6 and 9 p.m. The two later shows are sold out.
Where: Boulder Theater, 2032 14th St., Boulder
More info: reelrocktour.com
Reel Rock 12 will premiere four short films, all with Boulder ties. Here's a look at the films.
• Break On Through 16 minutes
This film features Margo Hayes, 19, who graduated from Fairview High School. Hayes conquered a 5.15, the hardest route ever climbed by a woman. She then did it again, as documented on this film. When she made history, Hayes was unknown, trained as a gymnast-turned-climber. The film follows her rise to fame, while she pushes herself to the limit and beyond.
• Above The Sea 16 minutes
This short film, made by Boulder-based Sender Films and Big Up Productions (which organizes the festival), follows one of the most iconic rock climbers, Chris Sharma. Sharma (author of the world's first 5.15) was a star in a previous Reel Rock show, and in this year's film he climbs ropeless above the sea on the island of Mallorca. The film captures him making arguably the most difficult ever deep water climb.
• Safety Third 25 minutes
This is the most palm-sweating film at the festival. You may have to watch it in fear through your fingers. "Safety Third" follows Brad Gobright, formerly of Boulder, pushing all kinds of free solo, ropeless limits in Eldorado Canyon. In the film, he attempts a first-ever free solo of one of Eldo's toughest routes. Despite his courage and skill, Gobright remains a "climber's climber," relatively unknown in the scene.
• Stumped 10 minutes
Boulder-produced "Stumped" is the story of Maureen Beck, who was born missing her left arm. Still, she has pushed herself hard as a climber. Beck has an infectious spirit and doesn't see her physical difference as unfortunate. This is a funny and fascinating film about an athlete with a physical disability, but really it's about her character and spirit that pushes her body to new levels. "Stumped" was made by local Cedar Wright Productions.
Earlier this year, the name Margo Hayes was largely unknown. This fall, it will glow boldly on the screen of the country's leading rock-climbing adventure film series.
This 19-year-old Fairview High School graduate became a household hero among rock climbers, after she became the first woman to climb a 5.15. Twice. The second time on film, in a documentary that will premiere on Nov. 3 in Boulder at Reel Rock 12, a climbing film festival.
After that, the short film about her, "Break On Through," will go on tour and show at about 500 screenings around the world, on every continent. Even in South Africa and at a science station on the North Pole. By the end of the Reel Rock 12 tour, an estimated 150,000-plus people will have seen her film. Then, it will be available on DVD.
But for now, the only way to experience it is through Reel Rock.
It's the 12th year of the Boulder-based film series and festival, and the tour continues to steadily grow, says Peter Mortimer, co-founder.
"It started out grassroots and has grown organically," he says.
The festival features four short films, all with strong Boulder ties. Two profile Boulder athletes and two are made by Boulder film production companies, including Mortimer's, Sender Films (which puts on the event with Boulder's Big Up Productions). Although the short films were all created independently of each other, they are curated to flow and complement each other to create a cohesive experience, Mortimer says.
"That's why I love doing it and why people like it. It's a very unique experience, a selection of different films but very curated, and the films are built to play together," he says. "It's a unique hybrid and I don't know anything else like it."
The other films feature Brad Gobright, a free soloist and former Boulder resident; Chris Sharma, one of the most iconic rock climbers; and Maureen Beck, a climber who was born missing her left arm.
Boulder has three showings at the Boulder Theater on Nov. 3: at 3, 6 and 9 p.m., although the later two are already sold out. Mortimer expects the event to attract 3,000 people.
Reel Rock has become a must-attend event for the climbing community, he says. It's more than just watching a movie, organizers say. Many of the film stars attend the screenings, so you can meet the legends. Hayes will be at the Boulder premiere.
During the weekend after the screenings is the Reel Rock Fest, which includes a rock climbing competition and clinic with the experts Movement Climbing + Fitness, and then a trail-building project with the local climbing community.
One of the biggest differences with this year's Reel Rock is the fact that three of the four films were not made by Sender and Big Up productions. An estimated 95 percent of all films shown over the past 11 years were produced in house. Only a few were made by other filmmakers. But this year, the majority were.
"It brings different voices," Mortimer says. He adds that it plays into the original spirit of collaboration that started Reel Rock. It was a joint effort between Sender and Big Up. Along those lines, Reel Rock is adamant that none of its films have ever been seen anywhere else before they're screened at the festival. Not online. Not even a clip on YouTube.
"It's so much about that communal experience, the excitement of 'What are the new stories going to be?'" Mortimer says. "The group experience is so important to us."