CARBONDALE, Colorado - The most adventurous life starts from within.
That's the message Tony Alva has come to Carbondale to share as one of the special guests at this year's 5Point Film Festival. Alva's short film, "Pass the Bucket," is screening tonight at the end of the 7 p.m. program held at the Carbondale Recreation Center.
Anyone familiar with skateboard culture knows that Alva is one of the most influential skaters of all time.
Now 54, it was Alva and his fellow "Z-Boys," a group of counterculture surfers and skaters, who revolutionized the sport of skateboarding. During a mid-1970s southern California drought, the Z-Boys began skating in empty backyard swimming pools, developing a new style of skating that was the precursor to today's undulating bowl-like skate parks.
Through the years, Alva has simply become an icon. He's been a standout athlete and owner of Alva Skates skateboard company. A model of Vans shoes is named after him, and he's been prominently featured in cult movies such as the documentary "Dogtown and Z-Boys" narrated by Sean Penn, and the feature film "Lords of Dogtown" starring the late Heath Ledger.
But Alva found this life of seeming success and adventure as empty as the swimming pools he skated. And after years of drug and alcohol abuse, he hit a bottom in 2006, losing houses, relationships and his soul.
"It got so bad for me that I was going to die, either through an accident or through my body shutting down," Alva said. "I've had sobriety for five and a half years. Now I'm giving back to young men. Maybe I can save some lives."
Alva's film is a six-minute short that's part of the "Pass the Bucket" series from Off the Wall TV produced by the Vans shoe company. The series highlights the humanitarian side of well-known action-sports people, as well as musicians and artists.
The short film shows Alva interacting with young people on Indian reservations and in East L.A. who show up to skate and hang out with him.
"I don't go out there and do a D.A.R.E.; I know they feel safe talking with me," Alva said, referring to Drug Abuse Resistance Education, a program typically coordinated through law enforcement agencies.
The youth he meets are often dealing with poverty, substance abuse and domestic issues.
"What I've got I'm giving away for free. I get paid immeasurable amounts just to show love to these young men," Alva said.
Alva's perspective is just one fraction of what is being offered this weekend at the adventure film festival, which began Thursday, April 26, and runs through Sunday, April 29.
About 40 special guests are participating in this year's event, accompanying more than 60 films, all of which are 30 minutes or shorter. These shorts are screened together in programming groups of around two hours each.
Founder Julie Kennedy created the festival, now in its fifth year, to provide a showcase for films that feature adventurers of all kinds.
The range is vast, from Alva's inner adventure to the story of climber Craig DeMartino, who lost his leg in a climbing accident but didn't let that stop him from climbing again ("The List"). There are films of extreme skiing, kayaking, cycling, and even pogo sticking - plus much more.
"All of these stories, from Tony's on, fit the theme within the festival," said Justin Clifton, who left MountainFilm in Telluride to become the executive director of the 5Point festival.
"These films show that through experiences - even negative experiences - you can find the positive in yourself. They show that only you can understand who you are as a person by discovering humility and honesty in yourself," Clifton said.
Some of Clifton's personal favorites in the line-up include "Aquaducts," screening tonight about a group of elderly swimmers, along with Alva's piece.
Saturday's family-friendly program starts at 11 a.m. and includes a selection of films geared for younger audiences, a larger-than-life puppet show and an ice cream social.
"It's game on," Clifton said about the festival. "I'm really excited about every night. Sharing this experience with the audience is so magical."
Climber Jimmy Chin, is being featured in a special presentation during the Saturday evening, April 28, program beginning at 7 p.m. Chin, Conrad Anker and Renan Ozturk made a historic first ascent of the Shark's Fin on Mount Meru in the Himalaya last fall. He and Ozturk will be at the festival to present their story.
"Meru was the most challenging climb of my life," Chin said. "It's an honor and privilege to be asked to share our story with the 5Point community, many of whom have supported us throughout our careers as climbers and creatives. We hope to give something special back to the tribe that has given us so much."