shextreme

‘What is your point of view? – what is your longitude and latitude?’

Squash Falconer - First British woman to paraglide from the top of Mont Blanc

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to interview pro snowboarder Robin Van Gyn about an exciting film project she was working on. Fast forward to October and that kickstarter project ‘Full Moon’ was closing out Shextreme Festival in Bristol.

I was tipped off about the event by British Snowboard X rider Jen Heath and we decided to get our tickets early. We were both so impressed by all the films, speakers and the great brands and exhibits on show and were stoked to witness such an incredibly inspiring event. Here’s how it went down.

Shextreme is a celebration of women in extreme sport and adventure, and the brainchild of Dr. Ruth Farrar who ‘decided to be the change she wanted to see’. She brought the two-day festival to Bristol UK for its second year and day two culminated in a screening of a handful of short films picked from a plethora of incredible entries from all over the world.

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Jenny Jones – by Mikey Corker

The evening featured a panel discussion from some of the most inspiring women in extreme sports. Bristol’s own Jenny Jones took part alongside adventure blogger Sian Lewis and extreme adventurer/all -round legend Squash Falconer. It was great to hear their perspectives on the representation of women in extreme sport, and also their experiences of being supported by their male counterparts, rather than dismissed. Believe me these women match it with the guys and it was really positive to hear that rather than being intimidated, a lot of blokes are super supportive. They each spoke about what’s on their calendars for the next year or so and what they’re seeing when they are out doing what they do best. There are so many reasons to follow each of these empowering women on their journeys and I recommend you do.

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From L-R: Sian Lewis, Jenny Jones, Dr Ruth Farrar and Squash Falconer

This wasn’t your ordinary movie screening. This was about and for awesome women, not their objectification. It’s what we’ve been waiting for. Each short film featured incredible female extreme athletes and the platform of a festival gave them the chance to inspire women to believe we do anything we set our minds to. It encourages all of us no matter how old, or how experienced to pursue the ultimate thrill. It documented the excitement of coming together to charge powder, climb great peaks, surf untouched icy swells and trek through mirage after mirage only to find oneself in the face of the abyss. Emerging not just alive, but truly living.

Sitting in a dark auditorium it was really awesome to see a very mixed crowd of guys and girls all evidently pumped about being together to celebrate something special.

The theatre quickly became filled with an energy and whole lot of inspired people left that night having seen women pushing each other further than they thought imaginable and embracing the wild unknown. Something ignited in us all that night and I applaud everyone who made it possible.

The crowd was treated to a visceral experience of incredible imagery and words that make your spine tingle and soundtracks that forced you to cling to your seat, simply to avoid your arms and legs from taking over – you want to be there experiencing it all so bad, and for me this was testament to the festival’s resounding success. It was amazing to see these athletes and the exploratory film makers documenting their journey’s, finally getting the exposure they so truly deserve.

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The Girl Outdoors

One film from the first half of the evening, The Space Outside, posed the question ‘what is your point of view – what is your longitude and latitude?’ That really set the mood for the whole night. This was a film as much about self-discovery as it was about stepping foot in new places and confronting your fear. When faced alone on a mountain in the dark and not knowing if she’d ever make it back to base, one of these amazing women described feeling at peace as she uttered the words I’ll never forget, ‘I want to die with memories, not dreams’. That just about sums it all up. This short film was all about women creating memories through a necessary expedition that changed their perspectives forever.

Way East took out the festival’s audience choice award, a worthy winner. It tells the story of the aftermath of the Fukushima earthquake, through lenses fixed on landscape, adventure and human spirit. Aline Bock; 2010 Freeride World Tour Champion and Lena Stoffel; professional free skier teamed up with film maker Mathias Koegel and their guide/photographer and fellow adventurer Aaron Jamieson, to explore what it means to escape to the countryside and to embrace nature after a terrible disaster.

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Way East

It was very much about life’s most basic necessities: instinct, being humbled by our surroundings and realising how little we actually need. The landscape was mountain caps meet icy seas. The crew trudged through vast snowfields until the water started to lap at the ice and from watching that, you get a real sense of space and peace. The juxtaposition of the landscape and the intermingling of boarding powder, to surfing cold-water waves, places you somewhere so intense, you’ll want to see it for yourself.

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Full Moon

Full Moon was the festival’s finale and the perfect way to end a phenomenal night. I couldn’t wait to see this film and was not disappointed. What an insanely incredible posse of snowboarders! The film took us on a journey of a group of snowboarding legends, taking on challenging drops, stacking it hard and pushing their talents to new highs. Boarding naked for the thrill, using every ounce of adrenaline in their bodies and giving each other the edge each needed to push further. This was a snowboard film for everyone – incredible extreme athletes in their own right, living for the moment as comrades on a mission and enjoying every second.

Shextreme is an exhibition and exploration for every person who ever dreamed of stepping out of their comfort zone to embark on an adventure extreme - and to take a quote from the evening, to ‘do something not brave, but necessary’.

I spoke to Dr Ruth Farrar after the event to see how she fely it went: ‘Very happy hearts here at Shextreme HQ. We've been bowled over by the positive press coverage, sponsor support and audience messages we've received after the festival.

Here’s to you Doc Ruth – I can’t wait to see what you can do next year, count me in.

I cannot encourage you enough to get behind this project, check out the films and share.

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Surfboard artist Chanti Mai flew in from Amsterdam to exhibit her skills.