A&E » Arts

IPPs hit the big screen

Squamish kayaker, filmmaker tells story of the Ashlu River in 49 Megawatts



What: 49 Megawatts, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: Friday, March 28, 7:30 p.m.

Tickets: $15 adults; $12 youth

The 11 th annual Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF) is coming to town — in a 1984 converted diesel Mercedes, affectionately dubbed George Oilwell.

Ivan Hughes, tour coordinator, explains that they are taking a more hands-on and environmentally friendly approach to screening their films across British Columbia and Alberta. The vehicle runs on post-consumer vegetable oil.

“We wanted to take the films out to the communities ourselves and thought that if we’re going to do that and drive it all over B.C. and Alberta, that we wanted to do it in the most environmentally conscious way as possible, and this seemed to be the best way to do it,” Hughes explained. “It’s not the answer, but it’s a better way to do it, anyway.”

This is also the first year organizers have incorporated environmental topics into the festival, introducing an entirely new part of the festival called the Earth Alliance Series, sponsored in part by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Hughes says climate change is having an impact on anyone involved in outdoor adventure sports, adding that he knows a few mountaineers who have photos of glaciers from 10 to 20 years ago, who have returned recently to find incredible recession.

“It’s just impacting us more and more every day, and I think the people that are out there doing adventure sports are seeing it first-hand,” said Hughes.

The film, 49 Megawatts , produced by Bryan Smith, captured the prize for Best Environmental Film at this year’s festival. The film follows the story of the independent power project on Squamish’s Ashlu River.

“The story is a little bit old, but it’s certainly relevant with everything that’s firing up right now,” Smith said, pointing to the recent controversy over a similar power project along the Upper Pitt River.

From Chile to China, Smith agrees that adventure sports enthusiasts are starting to pay attention to environmental issues that are hitting close to home, and says a lot of the world’s top kayakers are seeing the first-hand effects of global warming and over-consumption.

A professional kayaker and adventure filmmaker, Smith lives in Squamish and spends a lot of his time on the water, running the camera and paddling.

Smith and his loose knit group of fellow paddlers, photographers and filmmakers started off as amateurs, simply wanting to document their trips.