Backcountry preservation film screens to benefits WWA

It's not often that winter sports enthusiasts get the opportunity to view a film seeking to inform and inspire them instead of merely providing entertainment and marketing new products to them. Those folks who can't wait for the snow to fall every year can treat themselves to just such a movie on December 13 at the Flicks. Add to the entertainment that a portion of the proceeds will benefit a great cause, and you have a real reason to attend the screening of the new film Sanctified hosted by the Winter Wildlands Alliance.

Produced by a small production company based out of Wilson, Wyoming, Sanctified is billed as "a ski film about backcountry preservation." KGB Productions released the film in November, and they have been touring it around the country ever since. Their stated intention is to make films that appeal to viewers on a level beyond the sheer adrenaline-rush footage viewers have grown accustomed to. They recognize that skiing, and the ski industry, have an established culture surrounding them. And KGB is hoping to create films that will escape the seemingly permanent confines surrounding the idea that the progress of human-powered sports is based solely on the idea of "bigger, longer harder," that is, bigger air, longer lines and harder tricks.

With Sanctified, Sam Pope and Chris Kitchen of KGB Productions attempt to do two things: to present the experience of backcountry skiing as a celebration of the environment, and to educate their fellow sportsmen about the issues confronting that environment and thus their experience there. Sanctified not only shows skiers and snowboarders enjoying the pristine beauty of winter wildlands, but gives a brief overview of some of the environmental issues threatening those same wildlands. The filmmakers are hoping to inspire those who view the film to take action to help preserve the environment portrayed in the film.

The issues highlighted by the film include access to the backcountry; the development of areas formerly reserved for backcountry sports; the overuse and misuse of land allotted for specific purposes; and the big one, global warming. By using brief examples of specific places and the conflicts that each places faces, KGB Productions hopes to educate other backcountry users to become engaged in helping to support these causes and to become aware of issues that may be facing their own favorite backcountry area. As an extended effort to illuminate local issues, KGB Productions has decided to use the screenings of Sanctified as a benefit for local environmental agencies. Here in Boise, that group will be the Winter Wildlands Alliance.

"It's kind of a funny story how we got in touch with KGB Productions," says Charlie Woodruff, the outreach and development coordinator of the WWA. "They approached our executive director, Mark Menlove, at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. When I followed up, it turns out I was friends with the KGB guys in college."

It also turned out that the WWA had some material closely aligned with the mission of KGB. Three winters ago, the Winter Wildlands Alliance developed a presentation on the effects of snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park. Part of the presentation was a video called Stand Up for Yellowstone. The WWA let KGB use some of their footage for Sanctified, and Boise was scheduled as a stop on the tour.

"It's not a movie that we produced to fit our mission exactly, but we advocate for any kind of information on the importance of winter wildlands preservation," says Woodruff.

The WWA was formed in 2000 as the first national organization to work on behalf of skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, winter hikers and other outdoor adventurers to address national issues that affect winter wildlands. Their work advocates on behalf of human-powered recreation, something that many of us may take for granted.

"We are concerned with the quality of the experience," says Woodruff. The WWA's definition of quality translates as the right to a quiet, easily accessible experience on good quality terrain. The WWA works closely with the Forest Service and grassroots organizations to help preserve as well as expand the areas used for human-powered outdoor recreation activities and the larger environment, where such endeavors can take place.

Sanctified's screening provides an opportunity for those people who are interested in finding out more about the issues facing the environment where they go to play to meet and mingle, as well as the opportunity to start networking for their causes. Informational booths will be set up and prizes will be raffled, in addition to the screening of the film.

As to the film itself, Woodruff says, "I don't know of any other movie that would show that lone guy out there just making turns and having fun."

Sanctified, December 13, information tables 6-6:45 p.m., movie starts at 7 p.m., $10 general, $8 students with ID, $5 raffle ticket. The Flicks, 646 Fulton St., 342-4222.

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