Event features top Chinese climbers, adventure filmmakers

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Lots of people ask Amy Liu what the opportunities for ice, rock and alpine climbing in China are like.

A Canmore resident who moved here from Shanghai three years ago, Liu said the recurring questions led her to devise a way to bring stories about climbing in China to a Bow Valley audience.

With staff at The Alpine Club of Canada’s national office in Canmore, and fellow members of the ACC’s Rocky Mountain and Calgary sections, Liu began planning. The result is an evening featuring showings of three Chinese mountain films accompanied by presentations by five Chinese climbers and filmmakers.

“Because of my Chinese background, people always ask me questions about China,” Liu said. “I realized there was not much info about China’s climbing opportunities. This event is the first of its kind both for the ACC and the Chinese climbing community.”

Chinese Adventure Film Night happens at artsPlace on Friday, March 2, starting at 7:30 p.m., with the event featuring screenings of three award-winning Chinese films.

First up is Altay Wild Snow, which unveils the story of the birthplace of skiing in the remote northwestern region of China, which shares borders with Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Russia. The film was a finalist at the Milan International FICTS FEST in 2017.

The second film is Searching for Christmas Tree, an ice climbing epic about a search for a mysterious frozen waterfall that delves into the cultural transformation of China’s current generation. It made the finalists’ cut at the 2017 Banff and Kendall, U.K. mountain film festivals.

The third film, Pilgrimage, is a documentary capturing the traditional Buddhist pilgrimage around Mount Kailash, which won the 2015 Gold Rhino award for Best Outdoor Film in China.

The showings will be followed by three filmmakers and two climbers sharing behind-the-scenes insights and information about climbing and mountaineering in China. Filmmaker and climber Lie Feng, a veteran climber and one of China’s preeminent extreme sports filmmakers, will talk about rock climbing in China; China’s only big wall soloist, He Chuan, will speak about big wall climbing at Hua Shan and alpine rock at Si Chuan and climber and filmmaker Li Shuang will share the story of how she met the Tuvan people – the world’s most ancient skiers.

As well, Rockies climber Raf Andronowski will speak about his own 2016 ice climbing experience in China. Top Chinese alpinist Zhou Peng and free-spirited skier and filmmaker Asu round out the presenters.

To help bring the five Chinese to the Rockies, Liu said all involved were grateful for the support of Shanghai-based finance company China Summit Capital, which made flying the five all the way from China possible.

For her part, Liu said she knows the climbers and filmmakers personally, and that four of them have visited Canmore in the past few years to take advantage of the area’s world-class ice climbing. As well, she has been working with one of the filmmakers on a documentary he’s been shooting in the Rockies. And when she’s in China, she climbs with them there.

“Adventure documentary films are very new in China,” she said. “The Banff Mountain Film Festival has done a great job to influence the new generation of filmmakers. The three filmmakers we invited are some of the best and also some of the first who became independent filmmakers.”

The films were chosen for the diversity they offer, introducing audiences to ice climbing, backcountry skiing and Tibetan mountain culture. In addition to the Canmore showings, the ACC’s Calgary Section is hosting a similar event so the filmmakers can share their work with a larger audience.

“Also, I think what brings them here is the climbing opportunities, and the strong mountain culture we have in the Bow Valley,” Liu said. “Our event has attracted attention in the Chinese climbing community too. People are curious about Canmore and why these Chinese filmmakers/climbers are going there.”

If all that wasn’t reason enough to see the show, the event also coincides with the Chinese New Year, which runs for 15 days beginning Feb. 16. This year, Liu added, is the Year of the Dog.

For tickets or more information visit www.accrockymtn.ca/activities/events

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