Fisher, films featured in X-dance festival
The godfather and reigning king of mountain biking.
What better way to headline the seventh year of the LAT 34 X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival?
The sports icon will be on hand next week for the annual free film festival that coincides with Sundance to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award from the organizers at the festival’s close.
His attendance should likely garner the attention of recreational enthusiasts in the Park City area and set the tone for what X-Dance founder Brian Wimmer calls the best lineup of movies the film festival has ever released.
It also marks the festivals’ arrival into the big-time. No longer are the sports movies a collage of big air and wicked waves, but a plethora of cinematic masterpieces that follow lives, legacies and grapple with the realities of everyday life that always seem to surround sport.
According to Wimmer, this year all of the filmmakers and the famous athletes the movies feature will be in attendance. In fact, the festival is fast becoming regarded as the Academy Awards of the actions sports genre.
"It’s a much bigger event when we get that kind of support," Wimmer said.
This year the festival received hundreds of film submissions. The final field was whittled down to 35, but Wimmer said the quality was so extraordinarily high this year the decisions were tough.
"The quality of the films this year is incredible," Wimmer said. "It was tough, there were some amazing films from all over the world.
And the choice of Fisher to take the action sports spotlight?
Thank writer, director, and producer of the Gary Fisher-focused film, Klunkerz. The Marin County native dedicated two years of his life, and much of his family’s money, to the making of the film which traces the early roots of Fisher and his friends who created mountain biking as we know it.
"I wanted to get in the heads of the people and see what it was like," Savage said.
Savage calls it a labor of love and it seems true from every aspect. Fisher invented the mountain bike in Marin County. So, when Savage approached the original mountain biking crew about telling the story of the bike’s birth, there was an intimate understanding and acceptance of the movie’s mission. This allowed the Fisher and others who "took it off the road" as Savage says, to open up and truly share their story.
"I think he [Fisher] saw I was doing this the right way. He really opened up his arms to me," Savage said. "I don’t think others have come at it in the way that I did. These guys really opened up."
Intricately woven into the film is Fisher’s connection to culture of the 70s. His relationships with the musical icons of the time, the psychedelic culture of the Bay Area are all interwoven into Klunkerz tale.
Once Wimmer and the other X-Dance judges watched the film, they knew it was their golden opportunity to honor the legend and feature an excellent extreme sport film at the same time.
Savage says that the film’s two-and-a-half year production process has been filled with sacrifice but well worth the effort.
"I wanted to tell the story as if they could all be wrapped up and be the filmmaker," Savage said.
Besides honoring Fisher the first Lifetime Achievement Award since honoring sports filmmaking icon Bruce Bonn, creator of the surf movie "Endless Summer," three years ago the festival is also adding a green component to the festivities. Actor Darryl Hannah will present an honorary award to the Action Sports Environmental Coalition. Wimmer says that the environmental connection makes sense for the action sports film genre, because of extreme’s sports dependence on a clean and sustainable environment.
"There’s a lot synergy between athletes and the environment," Wimmer said. "Athletes that use the outdoors as their playground it’s essential really."
It also makes sense with the festival’s television sponsor Current TV, which is partly owned by former vice-president and environmental enthusiast Al Gore.
Fisher will receive his award at the awards and closing party at Harry O’s, featuring urban musician Talib Kweli and reggae group Zion I. A limited number of tickets will be sold for $35 prior to the event and $40 at the door.
Wimmer says that the entire film line-up is top-notch, but highlights the mountain biking and female surfing films as some of the best. He is also anticipating the screening of a snowboarding movie following the life of Craig Kelly.
For a complete list of films, times and dates as well as short trailers for each, visit http://www.x-dance.com or http://www.LAT-34.com . LAT-34 is the title sponsor of the festival. All films will be screened at the Park City Main Street Mall 333 Main Street across from the Egyptian Theater between January 19-23. The closing party will be held at Harry O’s on Jan. 23 from 10 1 p.m.
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