Reel Rock Film Festival climbs to new heights in 4th year at library |

Reel Rock Film Festival climbs to new heights in 4th year at library

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In between the rush of powder days and bluebird days, the Reel Rock 14 Film Festival offers a series of sun-baked, summer sweat escapes open to anyone feeling up for an adventure — no roping up required.

The climbing film festival returns to the Bud Werner Memorial Library for the fourth year in a row Wednesday, Jan. 29, with three brand-new films in tow.

“It’s high adrenaline, and it’s really fun to see them when we’re snow-bound,” said the library’s Adult Programs Coordinator Jennie Lay. “It’s good cross-season entertainment.”

Nina Williams highball bouldering in “The High Road.”
photo by Brett Lowell

“The High Road” profiles Nina Williams, an elite athlete who climbs in ways most would ever dare: scaling boulders without ropes as high as 50 feet off the ground, a feat called “highballing.” In the film, Williams explores her own psychology of being ropeless in the no-fall zone and what it means to be a female climber.

Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell pose for a portrait at the top of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park, California in “The Nose Speed Record.”

“The Nose Speed Record” tells the story of superstar big wall climber Alex Honnold and legend Tommy Caldwell as they aim to establish a new route up the 3,000 foot Nose of El Capitan. Along the way, the two grapple with the balance between perfection in climbing versus risk and what the smallest error could mean for their loved ones.

A climber takes a turn on a rodeo bull in the film “United States of Joe’s.”
photo by Spenser Tang-Smith

In the “United States of Joe’s,” a conservative Mormon, cowboy, coal mining community in rural Utah is confronted with a crew of punk rock climbers who show up for the area’s top-notch bouldering. The two cultures clash for years until the thought of a more peaceful existence is proposed.

While the content of Reel Rock films focuses on climbing, their humor, action and stories are intended to appeal to a wider audience of nonclimber nature lovers and film fans.

If you go

What: Reel Rock Film Festival
When: 6:30 to 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29
Where: Library Hall, 1289 Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $10 at the door, paid by cash or check

“These films aren’t surgical documentation of the climb,” Lay said. “They’re also beautiful profiles of the people, places and circumstances surrounding the big story.”

Tickets to Reel Rock are $10 at the door, in cash or check. Library Hall’s classic supply of popcorn and lemonade will help fuel attendees through the evening.

“We’ve packed the house for this, the past three years,” Lay said. “There’s always a ton of stoke in the audience.”

Reel Rocks was founded in 2005 by filmmakers Josh Lowell and Peter Mortimer. It’s since grown to deliver the industry’s newest climbing shorts and features to 500 locations — ranging from libraries, climbing gyms, health centers and theaters — across 40 countries, racking up dozens of festival awards and Emmys along the way.

The same day that Reel Rock 14 screens in Steamboat, the North Face-sponsored tour is also set to make appearances in Vallejo, California; Lyon and Dijon, France; and Freiburg, Germany. The next day it travels to Jerusalem, Israel, and Santander, Spain, and the day after, to Chicago, Idaho, Missouri and Texas.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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