By Sandra Maszak, for the Auburn Reporter
Even with his 20 years of experience as a film festival director, Warren Etheredge said this year’s Auburn Adventure Film Festival still felt like starting something new.
“There’s something about crossing that bit of a threshold that can be challenging,” Etheredge said. “And I think it’s that way with many people with adventures.”
Hosted at Auburn’s historic Auburn Avenue Theater, the festival ran from Friday to Sunday evening, Jan. 18-20, showcasing various film packages centered on the theme of adventure. Short films, features, documentaries and animations covered stories about biking, skiing, mountain climbing and surfing to encourage audience members to explore outside their comfort zone.
The event also paired film packages with outdoor experiences for audience members to explore the city of Auburn.
Etheredge, who got his start in film festivals with the Seattle International Film Festival, was hired by the city of Auburn to curate this year’s inaugural Adventure Film Festival. He has also served as director of the 1 Reel Film Festival at Bumbershoot and launched the Walla Walla Movie Crush in 2017, among other film festival projects.
The films from the event covered a broad variety of topics. One short film featured a Nepalese biker who built his own bike from scratch, while another, titled “The Frenchy,” followed an 82-year-old biker and adventurer from Colorado. Featured films were submitted by various filmmakers, while others were solicited by Etheredge.
In curating the film festival, Etheredge sought out films that would give audiences a greater perspective of adventure.
Etheredge said it was important to him to put together film packages that are “greater than the sum of their parts.”
“I really hope that people walk away one, having seen some tremendous movies. A lot of them are award-winning films,” said Etheredge. “I hope that in addition to seeing tremendous movies people are also provoked in such a manner as to get them to move.”
Lorraine Chachere, who is Auburn’s tourism coordinator, said the festival was part of Auburn’s “Choose Your Own Adventure” campaign, which seeks to highlight the arts scene in Auburn and the city’s proximity to outdoor experiences. The campaign began last summer and led to this event, which Chachere hopes will become an annual tradition.
“It really showcases that regardless of age and abilities that you can still have an adventurous spirit well into your later stages of life,” Chachere said.
As part of the weekend’s experience, the festival also offered corresponding events alongside the film packages. Auburn SK8 welcomed festival attendees on Sunday evening for a night of skating after the closing night’s skate adventure film package.
Joanne Feinberg is a producer, director and film editor who helped make two of the films that were featured in the festival. “The Road Between Us,” which played on Saturday as part of the biking package, follows the story of a father and son who embark on a 58-day biking trip from Santa Monica, Calif., to Chicago on Route 66.
Feinberg said one of her goals as a filmmaker is to “tell a story that’s a little bit more than the adventure itself but a relationship, or personal growth or something that transpires as a result of an activity.”
Her second film, “Wave Hands Like Clouds,” is a three-minute short about the extreme sport of highlining, which involves athletes walking from one cliff or rock face to another across a tightrope or slackline. The film, which Feinberg said is named for a tai chi move, is based of content from a longer feature she is working on that wraps up this year.
Etheredge, who grew up in New York City, does not consider himself adventurous in the outdoors-sense, but directing this festival has inspired him to try new things. He hopes the festival’s films inspire the same feelings in attendees.
“If these films inspire people to get off their couches and get off their seats and get out into the world around them, I think that would be quite the accomplishment,” Etheredge said.