Blind and afraid of water, Vivian Stancil learned to swim at 48. “I heard that blind people can’t swim,” Stancil says, followed by: “Oh, yes they can!” Two hundred and twenty-one medals later, at half her former body weight, Stencil is still at it.
Growing up as a ranch kid in tiny Ten Sleep, Wyoming, Mark Carter was raised on small-town realities like fixing a fence, branding cattle and herding steers across the sage-strewn acreage. Not exactly a typical candidate for a professional snowboarder. But once he made his first turns, he had discovered his passion. And he made it a reality. Today, Carter straddles two worlds — traveling the globe in search of epic lines before returning home to help out on the ranch. And he never loses sight of what his father instilled in him as the most important part of life: being a good, honest man.
Rivers run through Vala Árnadóttir’s blood; she was raised by fishing guides. She lives in the city of Reykjavík, Iceland, with her 10-year-old daughter Mathilda, and teaches Mathilda the art of casting, the tricks of fish, the peace of standing on the banks watching the water flow by. But when Vala travels to Greenland for guiding work, immersing herself in a landscape that’s as beautiful and fertile as it is barren and unforgiving, Mathilda doesn’t come along. Not yet. This short film paints the fantastical and mysterious country of Greenland through Mathilda’s fantasies and Vala’s eyes.
Garrett Eaton just doesn’t fit into a box. Which makes him a great subject for a short film. Especially for a filmmaker like Justin Clifton, who has a natural empathy for everyday heroes like Garrett and who knows how to let people — and places — tell their stories through his lens. The result: In the space of mere minutes we get to not only meet a man worth knowing but to become fully vested in his rich story.
“I wouldn’t wish this for anyone,” says Apa Sherpa, who summited Everest 21 times, having started as a porter at the age of 12 following the death of his father. Eric Crosland’s Loved By All leaves no doubt that for many Sherpa, the hard, dangerous work of hauling gear and guiding westerners on Everest is undertaken not for glory, but to provide for their families. Apa Sherpa is now devoted to providing educational opportunities to children of the Khumbu Valley, hoping to spare them his fate. “The true beauty of Nepal is not the mountains, but the people who live in their shadow,” he says, calling into question the Everest industry, fueled by Sherpa labor.
Twice a month for the last 40 years, Felix Belmont has hosted a radio show on KVNF in the small town of Paonia, Colorado, spinning big band music of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Today, at 99 years old, he is believed to be the world’s oldest public radio host. In this endearing short film, Belmont shares the ingredients to life well-lived: a great love affair, a rich relationship with music and just the right amount of top-shelf scotch.
Jaques Houot, 82, may just have found the fountain of youth. The Carbondale, Colorado-based French ski racer, downhill mountain biker, road cyclist and incorrigible flirt is the embodiment of joi de vivre. Houot has survived some two dozen close calls, including avalanches, cancer, car accidents, a heart attack and even attempted murder. As a survivor, he explains, he tries to enjoy every day he has, ripping through his mountains with his signature catchphrase, “No problem!” “When you laugh, you add one extra hour on your life. I’m going to die very old, because I love to laugh,” he says.
Teacher, blogger and mom Mirna Valerio is an endurance runner whose weekends are packed with marathons, 50Ks and other races. But she doesn’t fit into the typical mold of ultra-runner; Mirna is black, and she’s not stick thin. Which means that along with being a runner, she is a great stereotype exploder. It can be a harsh world of cruel internet trolls and insensitive competitors, but where others might relent, Mirna keeps her head up. She chooses to focus instead on the freedom, joy and feeling of accomplishment. As she puts it, “my body got this.”