The adventure film festival returns to independent cinema

SOAR, the Sudbury Outdoor Adventure Reels Film Festival, takes place November 11-13

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Adventure seekers rejoice. The SOAR film festival returns for a second year to satisfy your senses.

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SOAR (Sudbury Outdoor Adventure Reels) takes place at the Sudbury Indie Cinema, 162 Mackenzie Street, November 11-13.

“I am delighted to load up Indie with local outdoor enthusiasts; I’m also very happy with the timing of this year’s festival relative to the Banff Mountain Film Festival – it’s this week in Banff – and that we were able to get two feature films playing there now to play here at SOAR. None of this waits a year,” Sudbury Indie Cinema programmer Beth Mairs said Thursday.

The SOAR Festival is the brainchild of Jim Little, a professor in Laurentian University’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership Program.

The wider outdoor community is little-known “as a behind-the-scenes prof of the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s long-running world tour, which tends to land a touchdown in Sudbury each year in late January,” Mairs said.

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Little came up with the idea for SOAR during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the Banff World Tour was suspended and then offered only as a virtual experience. When he approached Mairs about organizing something locally, she jumped at the chance to participate.

“The adventure aspect of these movies certainly resonates with people, because taking risks in the natural world is a huge metaphor for how we experience life’s greatest challenges,” she said. “If we look at our own dream worlds, our subconscious often conjures up physical challenges to represent psychological challenges: crossing a mountain, swimming against the current, etc. because most of us know deeply that we are part of nature – that we are nature – even though our daily lives can take us away from this reality. We experience this vicarious connection when we identify with the subjects of a film based on wilderness.

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Mairs offered to curate the best wilderness adventure features of the year – drawing on top winners from the festival circuit, including Banff, Whistler, Vancouver, TIFF, Hot Docs and other international festivals. The goal would be for all films to be Northern Ontario premieres.

Little said he looks forward to the second edition of SOAR and “to see the community and members of the public re-energize their passion for the outdoors, adventure and the environment through a series of incredible films in a local location. unbelievable”.

This year’s SOAR festival opens with Precious Leader Woman, a documentary about elite snowboarder Spencer O’Brien.

“This gripping story follows her journey to reclaim her Indigenous identity, as well as her struggles and triumphs on the competitive circuit as one of the world’s top athletes,” Mairs explained.

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Precious female leader won the audience award at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. He also won Best Director at the Whistler Film Festival; and it received an honorable mention for best mountain film.

SOAR also picked up the National Film Board’s latest documentary, Voices across the Water, which is also screening in Banff. Voices across the Water follows two master boat builders — Alaskan Tlingit carver Wayne Price and Yukon artist Halin of Repentigny — as they build birchbark canoes and canoes and pass on their cultural knowledge to the next generation.

Buried will wow viewers on Saturday night. It will mark the film’s Ontario premiere.

“It’s notably one of the best adventure films to be released in 2021, drawing comparisons to 2019’s hit Free Solo,” Mairs noted. “The doc follows the 1982 avalanche disaster at a Lake Tahoe ski resort.”

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Buried won top prizes at Whistler, Vancouver, Austin, Bendfilm and Mountain Culture festivals last year.

“There are a few features that have serious heart-pounding scenes, like Buried and Anwar, but for the most part, SOAR’s feature selection reflects a more thoughtful, relationship-based kind of wilderness. movie,” Mairs said. “Some explore the inner life of the subject, like Precious Leader Woman or The Hermit of Treig, while others emphasize a strong environmental component, like Geographies of Solitude and One for the River.”

The Hermit of Treig will appeal to those who enjoy the TV series Alone, about contestants who are dropped into the desert alone and must survive as long as possible. Ken Smith, the hermit in this film, is the ancestor of the off-grid life, having survived over 40 years alone in the Scottish Highlands. The film examines, in part, how the octogenarian deals with his own failing health.

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Geographies of Solitude closes the festival on November 13.n the Canadian-made environmental documentary that Mairs has been patiently waiting for for almost a year, Geographies of Solitude premiered at last year’s Berlin Film Festival and won three prestigious awards. It has since earned 15 wins or nominations, including Best Canadian Documentary at Hot Docs earlier this year.

“When I saw announcements from Berlin last year that a Canadian doc had won not one, but three awards, I was practically jumping up and down, but I couldn’t find much information about the doc,” Mairs said. “I was hoping to screen it at the Junction North Documentary Film Festival last year, but there was hardly any trace of it on the internet. That changed in the summer, however, when Films We Like announced that they had the rights. We do a lot of work with Films We Like, so it was relatively easy to pitch and get festival screening. It opens theatrically in Toronto in mid-December, and of course, I’m still loving grab Toronto.

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SOAR will also include a program of short films. Mairs said this year’s offerings are varied, with finalists from around the world.

Even though each director has a different style, they still managed to capture the beauty and awe of the outdoors,” said Meghan Pucan, one of the festival organizers and this year’s student programmers. “I can’t wait for everyone to see all the shorts which will hopefully spark some thoughtful conversations.”

Eight screenings are scheduled for this weekend. All-access passes are $50. Single screening tickets are $12 and can be purchased in advance on Eventbrite at For the full schedule, please visit

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