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A scene from “Queen Maud Land” by Taylor Keating and Cedar Wright. Image provided.

Festival Preview: Ottawa Adventure Film Festival—11.15.19 to 11.24.19

By Chris Cormier on November 12, 2019



For a third consecutive year, the Ottawa Adventure Film Festival is back and once again OAFF 2019 is the biggest and most ambitious program to-date. The inaugural festival kicked off in 2017 with two screenings put on by Mike McKay of Five2Nine, an Ottawa-based media production company. The 2018 edition grew from their modest beginnings and featured 30 films screened over four days with more coverage here. This 2019 edition features well over 40 films and a jam-packed schedule of 11 events over nine days to give even the most enthused adventurers their fix.

Every fall I look forward to the launch of OAFF as it is one of my personal favourite events to cover here on Apt613. This year, as chance would have it, I was writing an email to our contact at the festival to set up an interview when they reached out asking if I would like to join the volunteer jury for the 2019 festival. Having the opportunity to watch all the films prior to screening, and cast my vote for the winners, was something I could not turn down. So after getting the blessings of the overworked Apt613 editorial team, I became a juror for this year’s festival, and goodness me was it fun!

Like in previous years, the OAFF 2019 selection includes a wide variety of films featuring skiing, kayaking, free diving and rock climbing to name a few. The core program has been split into two screenings: Program A “Mountains and Water” and Program B “Air and Land” which will both take place at the Mayfair Theatre on November 16–17 and again on the weekend of November 23–24.

New this year, and one of my personal favourite additions to the festivities, are a number of events at the University of Ottawa which explore recurring topics found throughout the OAFF 2019 film selection. The themed events include The Weight of Water, which examines the topic of accessibility in sport and adaptive athletes; Adventure Film and Indigenous Culture; and Adventure Film and Our Planet which examines adventure filmmakers’ role in conversations about our planet. This programming is free for uOtttawa staff, students and alumni.

The two final additions to this year’s schedule are new opening and closing screenings for the festival. On Friday November 15th, FULL SEND FRIDAY at Beyond the Pale Brewing Company will feature all the best action films and a great selection of craft beer to go along with them. The BEST OF OAFF 2019 closing event takes place November 24th at the Mayfair Theatre and will feature a selection of films as well as the official awards ceremony.

As I mentioned, this year I was part of the volunteer jury for the festival and had the opportunity to view all the films eligible for awards. Much like in past years, I am going to let you know films which I found particularly compelling, starting with Program A, “Mountains and Water.”


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Sand in the Sky by Gnarly Bay is a beautifully shot and very playful film where the filmmaker interviews his son about a vacation they took to Hawaii a year prior. The peculiar part is that Ollie, his son, is only an infant. Splicing video between the “interview” and pristine natural settings, the film takes a dream-like atmosphere. While the film is not what you might typically consider an adventure film, the visuals and story draw you in and take you to a little world created by Ollie.

“8000+” by Antoine Girard and Christian Schmidt. Photo: Antoine Girard.

In Program B, “Air and Land,” there were a number of films I really enjoyed but Antoine Girard and Christian Schmidt’s film 8000+ really brought me to the edge of my seat at times. Seemingly entirely self-shot, the film follows Girard who spends three weeks paragliding solo around the Karakoram Mountains in Northern Pakistan. While I trust the science and natural phenomena that make paragliding possible, I am still quite comfortable leaving it to people other than myself. Girard’s goal was to paraglide around the summit of all five of Pakistan’s 8,000 metre peaks in this single trip, all while setting a new altitude record for the sport. Given the magnitude of this feat, the film’s technical difficulties serve to further testify to that.


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Finally, a film that holds a special place in my heart, The Mystery of Now by Douglas Miles and The Woods Productions will be screened at the Adventure Film and Indigenous Culture event. As a long time skateboarder myself, I really enjoyed the focus on Douglas Miles, artist and founder of Apache Skateboards. The film manages to capture the positive social impact skateboarding is able to have on the community when paired with leaders like Miles in a very captivating way.

The Ottawa Adventure Film Festival has screenings and events happening from November 15–24 at the Mayfair Theatre, Gatineau Park, the University of Ottawa, Beyond the Pale Brewing Company and more venues. A complete schedule, information about the screenings as well as tickets can be found at the OAFF website or on their Facebook page.