Five must-see movies at the 2011 Adventure Film Festival this week

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The 2011 Adventure Film Festival gets under way in Boulder this week with a free Adventure Film Community Night at the Patagonia store at 1212 Pearl Street on Thursday at 7 p.m. and a Photographer Seminar at REI Boulder, 1789 28th Street, on Friday at noon, before the first screenings at the Boulder Theater on Friday at 5 p.m. The full-festival pass is $50, good for access to all forty films and shorts, plus a series of workshops and after-parties. Friday passes are $25; Saturday passes are $30. Individual screening tickets are $15 and available in limited quantities (AFF tickets typically sell out, so order online in advance to be safe). We've picked a few of our favorites from this year's featured films, after the jump...

5. All.I.Can. (Sherpa Films). After its Denver premiere last month at the Oriental Theater the buzz was that All.I.Can is the best ski film of the year, rolled up in a thought-provoking bundle of questions about the climate changes big-mountain skiers are experiencing firsthand. At 74 minutes it's more than twice as long as any of the other films screening on Friday night at the Boulder Theater, but you won't be able to take your eyes away for even a second: All.I.Can won Best Documentary and Most Innovative Visual FX at this year's IF3 International Freeski Film Festival. (Screens in the 6-8 p.m. block, with the two-minute short Chalk and Ski).

All.I.Can. Teaser 2 from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

4. Salt (Jerrycan Films). Photographer Murray Fredericks collaborated with director Michael Angus over a period of three years to present a 54-minute portrait of Australia's desolate Lake Eyre and some of the most stunning time-lapse sequences of all time, set to a soundtrack of Aajinta's Harmonic Spheres. Angus calls Fredericks' photos and sequences "representations of pure space, infinity and emptiness." The film screens at 2 p.m. on Saturday at REI Boulder.

'SALT' Documentary Trailer from Murray Fredericks on Vimeo.

3. The Pinnacle (Hot Aches Productions). Director Paul Diffley follows Scottish climbers Dave MacLeod and Andy Turner in a tribute retracing of the steps of Jimmy Marshall and Robin Smith, who famously climbed six first winter ascent routes on six consecutive days on Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in the British Isles, in 1960. Even with modern equipment and contemporary climbing styles, MacLeod and Turner learn firsthand why the mountain's Scottish Gaelic name Beinn Nibheis is alternately translated as "Malicious Mountain," "The Mountain With Its Head in the Clouds," and "Mountain of Heaven," giving them an even deeper appreciation for their predecessors' accomplishment.

2. The Art of Flight (Brain Farm Digital Cinema/Red Bull Media). If you missed the sold-out premieres of the year's biggest-budget backcountry snowboard and helicopter porn epic last month at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House and Boulder Theater, you'll get another chance on Saturday night at the Boulder Theater (screens at the end of the 6-8 p.m. block, with Towers of Ennedi, One Beach, and Real Skifi). For more on the film, check out our September Show + Tell interview with snowboarder Travis Rice.

Brain Farm - The Art of Flight Trailer from Brain Farm on Vimeo.

1. Cold (Forge Motion Pictures). National Geographic photographer Cory Richards brought a small handheld camera with him to record a series of video blog dispatches from what would become the first successful winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, a 26,362' peak in the Himalayas, with Simone Moro and Denis Urubko. But when temperatures dropped to -51 degrees, Richards found himself wondering if those videos would serve as his epigraph. Carbondale-based director Anson Fogel has turned Richards' video clips into a moving meditation on adventure (and freezing your ass off). A shorter edit of Cold is currently touring with the 2011 Reel Rock Film Festival; check out our September Show + Tell interview with Anson Fogel for more on the film. (Screens in the 8-10:30 p.m. block on Saturday at the Boulder Theater, with Chimaera, Summer Snapshot, Chasing Water, and The Wolf and the Medallion).

Another must-see this weekend is the ongoing Make Your Own Legends exhibit of photographs by the late Jonny Copp at Amante Coffee, 1035 Walnut Street; the Adventure Film Festival founder died in an avalanche in 2009 while climbing Mt. Edgar in southwestern China.

If you'd like to see your own work featured at a future Adventure Film Festival, follow Copp's "Make Your Own Legends" creed, starting with the Filmmakers Workshop on Saturday, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., at REI Boulder. This year's panelists include Boulder-based Travel Channel host Ryan Van Duzer, Condorcam owner Jesse Placky, and Academy Award nominee Bob Carmichael, of Denali Productions. And don't forget to check out the exhibit of Keith Ladzinki's photograph while you're there: The official reception is Saturday from noon to 1 p.m.

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