Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Touches Environmental, Indigenous And Mental Health Topics

By Steve McLean 2/19/21 |

Sam Danniels, a multi-sport professional athlete in three para-skiing disciplines, is subject of Beyond The Break — photo credit: screenshot

The 24th annual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) will be held from Feb. 19 to 28, continuing its mission to celebrate outdoor adventure and mountain culture, and there's a range of topics from para-athete Sam Danniels surf doc to recovering addict Harvey Wright who uses rock climbing as therapeutic tool.

VIMFF connects the global outdoor community with international filmmakers, creators and speakers through mountain film screenings, live multimedia presentations, photography exhibitions, workshops, seminars and other special events. These offerings aim to illustrate experiences and cultures from around the world to bring communities together to promote positive values and active lifestyles.

VIMFF has adapted its shows to a virtual setting due to COVID-19, allowing it to connect with audiences in their homes while increasing its global reach. It has expanded its programming to provide regular online content throughout the year.

Individual tickets cost $9 for films and $17 for shows and workshops. A film-only festival pass costs $85 and an all-access pass costs $105.

While the VIMFF programs high-impact environmental content, last year it also established a board-level committee to build a sustainability baseline and set strategic objectives. It has committed to making improvements in areas such as: being more proactive as a community ecological steward with local schools and organizations; procurement; printing; travel and local transportation; waste management; food and beverage selection and service; and venue considerations, such as convenience of location and energy usage.

VIMFF’s Tim Jones Community Achievement Award is given each year to a community member who has made an outstanding contribution to Vancouver’s North Shore outdoor or sports community. It’s presented in memory of Tim Jones, a paramedic and chief of North Shore Rescue for more than 24 years. The award’s mission is to educate and share passion for nature and local mountains. The winner will be announced during the festival.

Here are some of the films and related virtual panel discussions that will be shown at this year’s VIMFF:

Beyond the Break is a documentary making its world premiere about Sam Danniels, a multi-sport professional athlete in three para-skiing disciplines, as well as cycling, snowmobiling and paragliding. He refuses to let his life-changing spinal cord injury become a barrier to the many outdoor sports that he loves and has designed and built a new surfboard to tackle the unpredictable waves of the Pacific Northwest (watch trailer below).

Crux: The Climb Towards Mental Health follows a recovering addict who uses rock-climbing to work through his ongoing struggle with mental health.

Water Flows Together acknowledges the importance of Indigenous land. It provides a glimpse into native views on issues of water resource management, which are often missing from larger discussions of water challenges.

The short film The Mystery of Now focuses on artist and Apache Skateboards founder Douglas Miles, who provides the socio-political context that led to life on the San Carlos Apache reservation while providing advice on cultivating resilience, creativity and joy in a time that for many feels uncertain, polarizing and divisive.

Panelists will share Indigenous perspectives and experiences while delving into how identity can be inseparable from land on Feb. 25 at 6 p.m. PST.

Leuser: The Last Place on Earth will have its world premiere at VIMFF. The film shares the story of the most biodiverse ecosystem ever documented by science in Sumatra, Indonesia, which is facing the looming threat of the expansion of large-scale illegal palm oil processing and exporting.

Maybe Tomorrow, which makes its North American premiere at VIMFF, looks at the impact of vanishing sea ice in northwestern Greenland.

Falling Mountains is also making its North American premiere at VIMFF. It looks at how the last three years have been the warmest on record in the European Alps, causing glaciers to recede at an alarming rate and mountains to crumble, and how communities can adapt their economies to keep pace with these changes.

Climate change is also in the spotlight in When Glaciers Go, which examines glacial water shortages in the remote Mustang region of Nepal.

Viewers will be invited to join a discussion on Feb. 23 at 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST) where panelists will share their research and personal experience as witnesses of climate change.

A panel discussion on personal struggles and the positive effects the outdoors can have on mental health will be held on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST)

Watch trailer for Beyond The Break: The Sam Danniels Story:

* is an online magazine covering the good deeds of individuals, charities and businesses.