5 of our favorite 2018 Adventure Film Festival films

Boulder’s stoked-fueled fest aired over 30 films at its 14th annual event

By Paul Hagey Oct 7 2018

Boulder’s Adventure Film Festival turned 14 this weekend. Hundreds of adventurers braved a cold and wet weekend to revel in over 30 films and, expanded this year, various expeditions designed to bring the fest’s spirit to life.

As usual, founder Johnny Copp’s spirit rang large, thanks in no small part to Boulder’s quintessential adventurer Mr. Van Duzer, who emceed for the 10th year.

The fest is on an expanded trajectory under new acting executive director Justin James. BLDRfly’s looking forward to the wild ride.

This year, the fest aired 30 films. Below are five of our favorites.

The Frenchy

“I am lucky boy. I am a survivor. I have 23 close calls — 23, maybe 24,” says 82-year-old Jacques “The Frenchy” Houot in filmmaker Michelle Smith’s 16-minute celebration of the Carbondale, Colorado-based biker, skier, character. (You can see the full film on Michelle’s site here, at least for now).

This one proves you’re never too old to push the pedal to the medal — or strive for kisses from cute girls.

Valley of the Moon

Valley of the Moon still. Credit: Adventure Film Festival.

Two Israeli climbers aim to tame, and attract climbers to, the sheer cliffs of Jordan’s Wadi Rum, an enchanting desert whose name translates as “Valley of the Moon.” Director Henna Taylor brings that name to screen in her 22-minute doc.

As one of the Israeli climber says in the film, the effort to establish a climbing route, and an impossible 4th pitch, marries “nature, challenge, risk, unknown” — who doesn’t love that.

The whole town roots for success as they want a “Hefla,” a party, when they succeed. You’ll have to watch to see if they do.


“The Infamous Flapjack Affair” on a Grand Canyon rim. Credit: Adventure Film Festival.

Local filmmakers Amy Marquis and Dana Romanoff followed Ben Barron, a banjo player with “hair the color of a Southwest canyon, and his “The Infamous Flapjack Affair” bandmates on a music and spiritual tour of the Colorado River Basin.

The 56-minute film premiered at the fest — its shots of the band on the rim of the grand canyon, and capturing their harmonizing and a celloist Bach solo in Echo Canyons, shot magic into the theater.

RJ Ripper

21-year-old Nepalese mountain biker Rajesh Magar “RJ” caught the mountain bike bug early growing up near Kathmandu. His mom sold his first bike for scrap metal, so, as a teenager, he scrapped together parts and built his own.

His riding caught the eye of a mountain bike tour guide, who hired him. He’s now the fastest mountain biker in Nepal and aiming to hit the European and North American racing circuits.

Real Rock — An Urban Climbing Experience

This 10-minute film is filled with light-hearted irreverence, a tone close to BLDRfly’s heart.

Real Rock shot. Credit: Adventure Film Festival

Produced by Drew Herder and Josh Weinstein — who displayed their wit onstage Saturday night after their film aired as Van Duzer interviewed them — the film showcased the new sport of “buildering.” Because new routes on natural surfaces are all but claimed, adventure-seeking climbers must turn to man-made items such as CU buildings, the Boulder County Court House and more.

Of course, Timmy O’Neill, who dropped in to briefly intro the film and had a couple cameos, was an inspiration for it.

Feature image: The Frenchy. Credit: Michelle Smith.

Paul Hagey

Paul Hagey is BLDRfly’s founder and editor. When not wrangling video, audio and words in the name of story, he’s riding his mountain bike, trail running and hanging with his awesome wife Jen and their young daughter. paul@bldrfly.com