The Women’s Adventure Film Tour first premiered to a sold-out crowd in Sydney, Australia in May 2017. Since then, the film tour has left its home country and toured across Asia, Europe and North America. This spring, it is coming to Eastern Canada with a stop at Hamilton’s historic Playhouse Cinema on March 21.
The tour celebrates the extraordinary adventures of women by putting on a selection of short films. It is the result of a partnership between Australian company Adventure Film Tours and women-centred outdoors community She Went Wild. The Hamilton screening is open to all and will be two hours long with a short intermission. There will be also be raffle and door prizes offered.
Eastern Canada tour organizer, Benoit Brunet-Poirier got involved with the tour when he met Adventure Film Tours owner Toby Ryston-Pratt on a trip to Australia last year. At the time, Ryston-Pratt had been thinking about expanding to Canada. Brunet-Poirier discussed the opportunity with his partner Jamie Stewart and the two decided to take on the challenge of bringing the film tour home.
Adventure is important for the couple, who met while rock-climbing. The tour also combines their respective industries as Brunet-Poirier works in the entertainment industry and Stewart works for an outdoors retailer.
By showing women-centred films, the tour is helping break down barriers in the outdoors industry. Brunet-Poirier noted that women are historically thought of as individuals to be protected and this series of short films challenges that notion.
“So I really like the idea of having a woman-focused film tour just because… although women are starting to be represented more in adventure stores and in the media and in film, I do think that there still is a misrepresentation or underrepresentation of women. And so this film tour is just putting… the spotlight on women,” Stewart said.
The couple did their first screening for the film tour in Ottawa last fall. They are taking the feedback from that event on the road by increasing the number of films in order to show a few shorter ones and playing well-received flicks.
One such film, titled Finding the Line, follows professional skiers and sisters Anna and Nat Segal across Canada, France and the United States. While the film’s humour and thrilling 80 degree slopes make it an exciting watch, it is one of Stewart’s personal favourites because of its narratives of overcoming fear and sisterly bonding. It is these narratives that Stewart and Brunet-Poirier feel will resonate with audiences.
“We let go of some films that were focused on physical achievement to give room to films that are focused on the psychological or social achievement of other women. So there are films about BASE jumping and extreme sports, but there are also films that are more accessible,” said Brunet-Poirier.
In this way, the films should provide something that appeals to everyone, regardless of activity level or interest in extreme sports. The couple hopes that the pictures inspire audiences of all ages to attempt new things or take on a challenge that frightens them.
Stewart and Brunet-Poirier also focused on ensuring that the films showcases diversity. From a film about an older, blind woman learning to swim for the first time to another about the challenges a lesbian couple faces in a mountain biking community when they open a pizza shop, the films capture a range of identities.
The films were selected from Adventure Films Tours’ global database. While the couple chose some films based in North America in order to be more local, their priority on diversity led them to select films from around the world.
“I am a Chinese woman here in Canada and… we really wanted to showcase diversity and acceptance of everyone… [T]hat's the root of our cause. [We] really try to reach as many people as we can and showing representation in adventure sports of all types of people,” said Stewart.
By centring the diversity of women, Women’s Adventure Film Tour pushes back against the perception of the outdoors community as male-dominated or predominantly white. The films aim to be a comprehensive show of the physical and mental strength of women.