Denver-based No Mans Land Film Festival, or NMLFF, is coming to the Athena Cinema this Thursday. The films will highlight the stories of female, non-binary outdoor athletes. The event is organized by Outdoor Pursuits and the Recreation Majors Association.
“A movie like No Man’s Land is very powerful,” Zach McGinty, president of the Recreation Majors Association, said in an email. “There are extremely bada––outdoor women who don’t always get the recognition they deserve. This movie gives them the platform they deserve while lighting a fire in others to go out and achieve their dreams, no matter who you are.
The festival is new territory for Outdoor Pursuits, as it has never hosted an event like this in the past. The event can be attributed to the help of Leanne Chapman, a graduate assistant for outdoor activities.
Chapman was exposed to the NMLFF in her home state of Louisiana while at her local climbing gym and was inspired to pitch the idea of bringing the festival to Athens.
“It was just a cool setting,” Chapman said. “I saw it for the first time and I was like, ‘Oh my God, I can do anything.’ From there…I watched them virtually, and so I tried to keep up.I get excited about the new ones every year because they get me pumped.
Chapman said the festival provides space for storytelling and empowerment, as the outdoors is usually associated with men.
“I think the outdoors itself is inherently intimidating, and rightly so because, in many ways, it is,” Chapman said. “For a while it’s been a male-dominated space.”
Cody Lennon, assistant director of outdoor recreation and education for Campus Recreation, also tends to see only the male side of outdoor activities in the media.
“With all the other outdoor film festivals like Reel Rock (Film Tour) or the Paddling Film Festival, you usually see a lot of white men doing stuff outdoors, and the reality is there’s a lot more of people than white men on the outside. “, Lennon said. “No Man’s Land does a fantastic job of highlighting this fact. It focuses on empowering and showcasing the stories of female and non-binary outdoor athletes.
McGinty said the film festival is also an event that can help Athens residents find new outdoor activities to try for the first time.
“Many of the activities featured in the movie No Man’s Land are available within minutes of campus, such as mountain biking, running, paddling, rock climbing, and more,” McGinty said in an email. “I believe seeing people prominently featured in No Man’s Land can give people the push they need to use these local resources.”
Chapman also views the festival as an important event for those who have never been outdoors before.
“I think it’s important for other people who might be intimidated or who might not feel like what they’re doing is important or their story is important, to know that they are.” , said Chapman. “They also belong in those spaces, too. They should feel empowered and that it’s their space, no matter what the mainstream media says.
The festival begins at 7:30 p.m. and doors open at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $10 for community members and free for students. There will be a panel discussion after the festival, with Rory O’Malley, Hanna Vorisek, Carrie Vieland, Elle Dickerman and Kate Campbell Bernens.