With temperatures coming down and the official start of winter just a couple of weeks away, indieWIRE has curated a number of documentaries focused on cold weather sports and leisure for Hulu’s Documentaries page. If you have to be cold, you may as well marvel at the wonders of the Arctic or Mt Everest, and the impressive feats these men and women can accomplish.
EDITOR’S NOTE: “indieWIRE @ Hulu Docs” is a regular column spotlighting the iW-curated selections on Hulu’s Documentaries page, a unique collaboration between the two sites. iW selections appear in the carousel at the top of the page and under “Featured Content” in the center. Be sure to check out the great non-fiction projects available to watch free of charge.
Before looking at a number of mountain climbing films, this week’s selections begin with a more down-to-earth winter sport with which more people are likely to have had direct experience – hockey. In Tommy Haines’ “Pond Hockey” players, fans, and experts reflect on changes to their favorite pastime, focused on the transition from outdoor open ice play to indoor climate-controlled arenas. The doc simultaneously celebrates the sport while investigating these changes to the culture of the game.
The first of four films focused exclusively on mountain climbing, “Beyond Gravity” by Aaron Black, Aaron Jackson, and Sean White impressively showcases world-class athletes in ice, rock, and alpine terrains. Featuring breathtaking camerawork and interviews with a variety of professionals from around the world, the film captures the essence and appeal of climbing.
A series of films about climbing that didn’t include Mt Everest wouldn’t be right – in the first of three, Les Guthman’s “Messner,” the famed Reinhold Messner, acknowledged by many as the world’s greatest mountain climber, reflects on his career and accomplishments, including his 1978 and 1980 ascents of Everest without using bottled oxygen.
Mt Everest is also the backdrop of Michael Brown’s “Farther Than the Eye Can See” – but it’s surprisingly overshadowed by the efforts of its protagonist, Erik Weihenmayer, a blind climber. Showing a triumph of will, Weihenmayer and his team serve as an inspiration against the visual spectacle of the Himalayas.
Weihenmayer served as an inspiration and mentor for the subjects in Lucy Walker’s “Blindsight,” which follows six ostracized blind Tibetan teenagers on an empowering climb of Lhakpa Ri mountain in the shadow of Everest. After premiering at Toronto, this inspirational film went on to the Berlin Film Festival, where it won the audience award.
To round out this week’s selections, art combines with cold weather adventure in David Buckland’s “Art from the Arctic” to increase awareness for climate change. The artist/filmmaker organized three sailing expeditions to the Arctic bringing other artists – a composer, photographer, writer, and sculptor – to experience the region’s ethereal beauty and changing landscape.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Basil Tsiokos is a Programming Associate, Documentary Features for Sundance, consults with documentary filmmakers and festivals, and recently co-produced Cameron Yates’ feature documentary “The Canal Street Madam.” Follow him on Twitter (@1basil1 and @CanalStMadamDoc) and visit his blog (what (not) to doc).