Rainier Film Festival

Leah DeAngelis
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The 8th annual Rainier Film Festival due to be held May 9-11, 2014 offers a screening venue for indie filmmakers and a great opportunity to get outside. The Mt. Rainier setting in the Ashford Valley is an appropriate place to screen films about adventurers. This year's featured films include High and Hallowed: Everest 1963 and The Blinding Sea, about polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

Festival co-founder Win Whittaker's uncle Jim Whittaker summited Everest with Sherpa Nawang Gombu in 1963. He was the first American to summit Everest, and climbing runs in the family. His father, Lou Whittaker, ran a guide service on Mt. Rainier called Rainier Mountaineering Inc. and is an iconic figure in the climbing community. How appropriate then for his son, also a climber, to pioneer a film festival named after the same sleeping volcano.

Mt. Rainier Film Festival

Win and his wife, Sarah, are both adventurers and filmmakers who met while working on a movie set. They founded the Rainier Film festival as an outlet for true independent filmmakers to get their movies screened, and the couple embraces a wide range of genres. Their own film, Sherpa, the Proving Grounds is about female sherpas and portrays how crucial sherpas are and how, without them, none of the great expeditions would happen. Together, they also run the Whittaker’s Bunk House , a motel that caters to climbers and will host filmmakers coming to the festival.

Movies will be screened in the "Lion's Theater" at The Rainier Lion's Hall and the "Cine Yurt" at The Wellspring Spa. The festival gives filmmakers a chance to mingle with industry folks in a relaxed environment and to attend workshops and seminars. The venues offer an opportunity for the public to hang out with filmmakers and enjoy complimentary drinks.  Film highlights include Herd in Iceland, We Are The Land, and High and Hallowed: Everest 1963.

Between films there are other activities to enjoy in the area.  Mt. Rainier National Park offers hiking, spas, horseback riding, and climbing, and you can also find lodging on the Mt. Rainier Visitor’s Association website.  The Mount Tahoma Trail Association just outside of Ashford has over 50 miles of trails with three huts and a yurt that they offer at no charge for overnight stays at a first come, first served basis.  Drop by for a hike, watch a movie or two and enjoy a drink with the filmmakers. Find out more on the Rainier Film Festival website.

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