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Backcountry Film Festival on Thursday at Gonzaga

Backcountry skiing is a featured activity at the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival. (The Spokesman-Review)
Backcountry skiing is a featured activity at the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival. (The Spokesman-Review)

Six films focused on human-powered outdoor pursuits will be featured in the Winter Wildlands Alliance Backcountry Film Festival Thursday night at Gonzaga University.

In its sixth year, the 2011 tour of films is making its debut in Spokane at the university’s Jepson Center.

Six films will be presented that range in location from Alaska to Antarctica. The filmmakers range from world-class to grassroots weekend-warrior video buffs.

“This is a good deal for seeing these films in a fun setting, and it’s a great way to get people thinking about the outdoor recreation opportunities they can enjoy without machines,” said John Latta, a Spokane backcountry skier and event supporter.

The tour is coordinated by the Winter Wildlands Alliance, which solicits short films – no longer than 30 minutes – that tell a thought-provoking, winter-related, interesting story of backcountry, non-motorized recreation or environmental preservation.

Of course, there’s the occasional gag film, such as this year’s short, “Backcountry Snowboarding,” which already has garnered nearly a half a million views on YouTube.

Top films selected for this year’s tour include:

   • “Deeper,” by Teton Gravity Research. Judged to be the best feature film, it follows pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones and other top riders as they forsake helicopters, snowmobiles and lifts to venture deep into untouched terrain under their own power. This film is also a top show at the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

• “Desert River,” by Sweetgrass Productions. Judged to be the best short film, it follows a scenic ski adventure into Alaska.

• “Whitebark Warrior,” by TreeFight and Snaz Media. Selected as the best environmental film, it chronicles the role of climate change in the decline of thousand-year-old whitebark.

Other films on the tour list but not confirmed for the Thursday showing include “Australis,” “TELEvision” and “Cross-Country Snowboarding.”

The Film Festival benefits Winter Wildlands Alliance’s efforts to preserve and conserve winter landscapes for quiet users, as well as local groups on the same mission, said spokesperson Susan Drumheller.

The inaugural Spokane showing is sponsored by Gonzaga University’s Outdoor Program along with The Spokane Mountaineers Foundation, Friends of Scotchman Peaks Wilderness and the Idaho Conservation League.

The festival travels to more than 30 communities throughout the United States.

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