Summer storming

CU Student organizes winter film fest in Chile on summer break

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The crowd inside El Montañes, a bar and restaurant in Farellones, Chile, is standing room only. There are more people outside, cajoling the security staff in a vain attempt to get in. They’re the unlucky ones, the ones without tickets to the hottest night of the austral winter. Security doesn’t budge and they’re outta luck. Inside, the crowd is overflowing with stoke and anticipation. They laugh and talk in a multitude of languages: Swedish, English, German and, of course, Spanish.

The packed house is due to Rafael Pease.

Pease, a Chilean snowboarder who spends his northern winters in Boulder, and who is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder, has spent the last two months working tirelessly to organize the Flux Veho Mountain Film Festival. Tonight, all the stress and sweat and tears are coming to fruition, and the joint is rockin’. Pease will have a unique answer to “what did you do on summer vacation?” — that’s for sure.

You’ve heard about mountain film festivals. Maybe you’ve even been to one. They’re usually a visual feast featuring impossible feats in remote locations done by professional athletes and shot by professionals with the best cameras that money can buy. While these festivals and the movies they showcase can be inspirational and interesting, they lack the common touch. Sure, it’s easy for sponsored pros to spend three months climbing a remote unnamed peak in the Himalayas with a full crew filming their every move, but that’s not life for most of us. 

Pease noticed this and decided to do something different. With the help and advice from some industry insiders, he came up with the concept of a participatory film festival. An event that anyone could enter, where fun and accessibility would take center stage and where everyone could taste a bit of the red carpet.

“It was a lot of work,” says Pease. “But the response was great and everyone was really into it.”

The concept behind the Flux Veho Mountain Film Festival was simple. Teams of three would pay approximately $30 per team to be a part of the event. They’d have four days to film and edit their video, which could only be two minutes long. The final movies would then be judged, with the winners announced at a redcarpet affair and the entry fee being kicked back into the event as prize money for the top videos.

“We decided on a two-minute time limit because it works really well for social media and online viewing,” says Pease. “And because even if the teams are not that talented as far as filming or athletes, two minutes makes them really edit their content so that the final product is a lot better.”

Farellones, Chile, proved to be the ideal location for the inaugural event. The historic epicenter of Chilean mountain culture, surrounded by three ski areas and home to a motley assortment of skiers, snowboarders and mountaineers, Farellones has an international vibe thanks to a global mix of ski bums, instructors and snowsport enthusiasts. Immediately above Farrellones rise the Andes. The terrain here is vast and untouched, the vistas spectacular and the snow phenomenal.

Despite all of the advantages that Farellones has, there was one thing that it didn’t have. And that was a compelling event that could bring all of the community — from Brazilian tourists to Santiago snowboarders — together.

Enter Flux, which ended up being the perfect fit. 

“I wanted everyone to be able to participate and show off their own style,” says Pease. “I thought that we would get some interest, but I didn’t know how many teams would sign up.”

In the end 23 teams entered, with a wide variety of styles and ability. Colorado was well represented, with Aspen’s Stasinos brothers, Cory and Wyatt, producing a nice effort that focused on snowboarding the hike-to terrain around Farellones; Crested Butte locals Oz Scott and Willam Dujardin teamed up with Canadian skier Patrick Desjardins as part of the West Elk Project team; and, finally, The Surf Gravity team also had a Colorado connection with Aspen skier Katrina DeVore teaming up with Vail skier Cynthia Jah’nson and Canadian skier Maria Fillion.

Still, it was the locals who ended up taking home the cash, with Alvaro Zurita, Iñaqui Irrazaval and Matias Muñoz of Extotreme taking first place ahead of The Brother Hood crew, featuring Martin Oliger, Paul Oliger and Martin Kiffer. Third place went to the Argentine crew of Santiago Martin Ces, Juan Pablo Beltramone and Gonzalo Lopatin.

All three of these two-minute efforts prove that you don’t have to be a professional with a lot of sponsors and a big-budget production crew to create entertaining, visually stimulating work. The Brother Hood’s clip is especially impressive, capturing amazing angles thanks to a GoPro camera and a drone, tools that provide amazing results and are now within reach of amateur filmmakers at relatively affordable prices.

But the Flux spirit was perhaps captured best by Kangalha, a Brazilian team comprising of Jose Gustavo, Hervig Kerkoff and Giovanni Izoton. Winner of the “Best Adventure” award, their two-minute short features themselves, novice snowboarders learning how to ride, and all the falls, bumps, bruises and smiles that come with attempting a new sport in the snow when you’re from a tropical land.

“It was really cool to have all these different visions of what Farellones is, and all the different styles,” says Pease of the shorts. “Everyone did really different things.”

With the 2015 edition of the Flux Veho going viral and receiving widespread acclaim and coverage from some of the most respected media outlets in action sports, including stories in Powder Magazine and on The Inertia, Pease is now planning for the future. He plans to repeat the Farellones event next year in August and is looking to expand the festival to North America and Europe this year. Regardless of what happens, one thing is for sure: he’ll never look at summer vacation from CU the same way ever again.

Check out the winning videos, learn more about the event at see all the other entries at FluxVeho.com.

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