Anyone who enjoys defying death — whether directly or vicariously — should rush to the Mystic Theater on March 25 for the Tahoe Adventure Film Festival’s Road Show. These brave souls will see some of the best so-called “action adventure sports” shorts of the year. The traveling version of the annual show only visits a handful of cities — and Petaluma is one of them.
“We sell out the Mystic every year,” said festival creator Todd Offenbacher. “There is a strong outdoor community in Petaluma, where surfers and other outdoor enthusiasts call Tahoe their winter playground. I feel really good when I come to Petaluma.
Founded in Tahoe 20 years ago, the festival has been rolling for 15 years and held in Petaluma for eight years. It features recently released films of exploits and adventures in some of the world’s most remote locations under the harshest conditions. The filmmakers capture the power and intensity of skiing, snowboarding, kayaking, rock climbing, surfing, mountain biking, BASE jumping and other sports.
Some segments this year are previews of movies that haven’t been released.
BASE is an acronym for “buildings, aerial, spans, land” and refers to the various platforms from which riders jump. After an optional free fall, they deploy a parachute. A popular form of BASE jumping is the wingsuit BASE jump, in which air inflates the jumper’s suit into a semi-rigid airfoil shape. By maintaining the correct body position, the pilot is able to move three feet forward for every foot of descent, in other words, become a human kite and fly.
“The movies we show are getting better and better, due to changes in the technology involved,” said Offenbacher. “Camera housings have become so small and light that drones can be used to get shots that weren’t possible a few years ago.”
And body cameras allow athletes to capture their point of view.
“Filmmakers have a whole new perspective,” he said.
When he first moved to Tahoe from the East Coast, Offenbacher kept wondering what was different about the sports culture of his new home. He eventually realized that he was marked by strong camaraderie rather than competition.
“The festival celebrates that connection that we all feel,” he said.
Offenbacher spends nearly six months of the year viewing and evaluating the annual crop of films before selecting those for the program.
“We select the films, we don’t judge them,” he said. “Then our community comes together to honor what these films stand for.”
Previously, Offenbacher had to edit longer films to a decent length, but the current trend is for shorter films, so he is spared this task.
The festival is also a party, with music, refreshments and special guests.
“It’s tongue-in-cheek humor combined with a celebration of our unique South Lake Tahoe community, way of life and culture,” Offenbacher explained.
This year, the festival’s annual Golden Camelot award went to John Rice of Sierra-at-Tahoe, a ski and snowboard resort, for his role in fighting the Caldor fire last year.
“Each year, we recognize a hero from our local community,” says Offenbacher. Past recipients include Royal Robbins, Tommy Caldwell, Glen Plake, Fred Beckey, Jeremy Jones, Alex Honnold, Steve Wampler, Hatchett Brothers, Corey Rich, Doug Stoup, Robb Gaffney, Chris McNamerra, Chris Davenport, Scott Gaffney and Jamie Anderson.
Each of the films will be introduced by Offenbacher, including advice on what to watch out for. The festival includes “The Crux”, the first entry in which Offenbacher himself appears. During the installation of the public, a series of photos taken by the famous Canadian outdoor photographer Grant Gunderson will be projected.
Offenbacher has worked for Outside TV for 20 years. With an office in South Lake Tahoe, it is a sports-focused cable and satellite television network based on Outside Magazine. The network covers running, biking, skiing, hiking, sailing, surfing, kayaking and any other adventure involving wind, water, snow and terrain.
Offenbacher also guides remote ski mountaineering trips to Svalbard, Norway and Antarctica every year. He has climbed first ascents all over the world, including Pakistan, Tibet, Thailand and Peru. The festival is an extension of this passion for life and adventure.