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‘Genuine excitement’: Arts Council of Big Sky brings the Adventure Circuit to town

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A series of outdoor and recreation-focused film festivals are scheduled to show in Big Sky thanks to a partnership between the Arts Council of Big Sky and the Waypoint. Officially known as the Adventure Circuit, this brainchild of the Arts Council will consist of five different film festivals. The Arts Council has partnered with the Waypoint in previous years to bring a couple of these mountain-living film festivals to Big Sky, and is hoping this year to bring even more variety of film to the local theater.

The Adventure Circuit logo. COURTESY OF THE ARTS COUNCIL

Things kick off on Thursday, May 11 with the World Tour Paddling Film Festival. Big Sky residents should be familiar with the festival; it also showed at the Waypoint in 2022. The Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival is also back for another year, scheduled to return to Big Sky on June 13. The Mountainfilm on Tour, which is essentially the root of this new Adventure Circuit, will be returning on Sept. 13, after several years of success and positive feedback from the community. Come Nov. 28, the No Man’s Land Film Festival, followed by a to-be-determined winter themed film sometime in December.

The rivers are currently ripping and it seems fit to kick things off with the World Tour Paddling Film Festival. According to Jane Liivoja, events director for the Arts Council, the main focus of this year’s paddling films is whitewater kayaking and rafting, but we can also expect pieces showing different organizations using these water sports as a way to “empower and engage youth.”

Looking into the World Tour Paddling festival program gives us a taste of the variety we can expect. One of the films being featured, “White Gold,” is a “film with no agenda… the next generation of paddling legends embrace the chaos of high-water laps on the South Fork Clearwater, an Idaho classic.” Whereas “On, In & Under the Sava” documents four friends on their mission down Slovenia’s Sava River to “find the elusive finned monsters that dwell in the deep, in order to help protect the Sava from the construction of dams,” according to the program.

The poster for the 2023 World Tour Paddling Film Festival. COURTESY OF THE ARTS COUNCIL

And that really is what all these festivals are all about. “As long as there’s a conversation after the fact, then the film festival has done its job,” Liivoja explained, hoping that these conversations will motivate people to come back for the next one. The Paddling Festival is the most sport-specific of the festivals within the Adventure Circuit, according to Liivoja who is working with the Arts Council to select the films that will be shown.

With the Adventure Circuit as the overarching local umbrella under which all the individual festivals live, there are several different types of ticket options available, including family packs and passes that can get you into all five festivals.

“Ultimately, the purpose of this Adventure Circuit is to reach all members of the Big Sky community with the artform of film,” Liivoja said.

These films were selected because they’re likely to appeal to a broad swath of people: from tourists to locals, and from tenured outdoorsmen to the many developing hobbyists who are drawn to the mountains for all the reasons under the sun. Many of them have a specific purpose or message they’re trying to get across, and all should help build appreciation for what it means to call the mountains home.

“There is genuine excitement that builds when you watch these films and the crazy things these people are doing, but they can also expect some heartwarming stories too,” Liivoja said.

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