VIMFF Summer Fest spotlights diverse communities enjoying the great outdoors

The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary in February with a wide selection of documentaries about outdoor recreation, environmental conservation and the victory of the human spirit over adversity.

The festival was founded by Alan Formanek, who moved to Canada in 1992 with his young family from Bratislava. Like many immigrants, he built a new life in this country and contributed immensely to the cultural fabric of Metro Vancouver.

This month, the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is encouraging a greater appreciation for diversity in mountaineering activities with its VIMFF Summer Fest.

On June 26, it will be offering several short films for free in a program called Celebrating Multiculturalism in the Mountains. Taking place from 3-9pm at the Shipyards in North Vancouver, the VIMFF Summer Fest features a beer garden, live music and a climbing wall.

The films feature ‘Path of Cedy Nkunze’, an inspiring take on a young man from a mountainous region of Burundi who feels at home in Whistler. In the Seth Gillis-directed film, Nkunze celebrates the wonders of living in the mountains, but also tackles the challenges of belonging to a minority community.

“Whistler has its own problems, for example in inequality in representation, especially in children’s programming,” says Nkunze in the film. “We have enrolled children from all backgrounds. Yet these children are not included in the images surrounding these programs.”

Another short film, Ross James Reid’s “Riding Red,” shows First Nations youth reconnecting with the land through outdoor activities. And Drew Bennett’s “A Space for All” reveals how African-American cyclist Brooke Goudy is pushing for more black representation and inclusion in her sport.

Brooke Goudy’s campaign for more black representation in the world of mountain biking is featured in Drew Bennett’s “A Space for All”.
Emily Sierra

It’s not the first time the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival has tried to draw attention to this issue. It also took place last February with an event called Color the Trails at the Rio Theater that aimed to promote a more inclusive outdoor recreation sector.

Films at the VIMFF Summer Fest are divided into two parts of 54 minutes each.

In the first part, “A Space for All” is shown with “Dear Pippa” about a mother and a five-year-old daughter; “Ascend”, which tells the story of a mountain biker who lost a leg to cancer; “Em”, with a lot of content from Squamish. This section concludes with “Originate: Inspiration,” a film about skier Michelle Parker teaming up with professional mountain biker Brooklyn Bell and freerider Hannah Bergeman.

The second part features “Eagle Eye-A Higher Perspective” about daring big mountain skiing, “Outlaw Sport” about the North Shore bike paths and “Originate//Symbiosis” about Parker joining adventure athletes in the Fairy River basin Creek in South Vancouver Island. That’s in addition to “Riding Red” and “Path of Cedy Nkunze”.

The festival screens the films in honor of Canadian Multiculturalism Day, which falls the following day (June 27). The federal government designated this day in 2002 to recognize the contributions of various communities to Canadian society.

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