On a nearly freezing mid-January evening, an impressive crowd of stereotypical affluent, environmentally and socially conscious, anti-corporate white North Americans, of all ages and genders, clad in the muted tones of this year’s line of outdoor performance clothes, poured into the bottom floor of the Kimo Theater to watch a collection of films depicting extraordinary women pushing themselves to their limits.

The No Man's Land Film Festival (NMLFF) tour came to Albuquerque on Saturday, January 17, 2020, to show a selection of women-focused adventure short films.

The festival curators clearly did their research and knew that the people who can afford to take time off to go hiking, rock climbing, and skiing are the same people who love to attend film festivals

About 350 festival-goers braved the diversity of Central, stepping around curled up forms of homeless people laying in corners with their backs to the activity of the street and passing by lines of dark-haired 20-somethings decked out in 4-inch heels, heavy make-up, and skin-tight mini-skirts. 

The Albuquerque NMLFF started with a quick welcome from Cristina Radu, one of the owners of Stone Age Climbing Gym, who encouraged patrons to buy tickets for the upcoming, similarly-themed Banff Film Festival. She explained that the 2020 No Man’s Land Flagship Festival will be held this March in Denver, CO. 

She mentioned that the proceeds of the evening went to cover the costs of the festival and that about $1000 of the money raised would go to Barrett Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to ending “the experience of homelessness for women and children in our community by providing shelter, housing and supportive services.”

Radu said last year the festival creators based in Colorado contacted Stone Age Climbing Gym and asked if they would locally host the festival. REI, the well known outdoor recreation retailer, joined as a co-host for the Albuquerque showing this year and was listed as a producer on more than half of this year’s line up. 

The event showcased some of the best work that money and privilege can produce, from talented writers, photographers to film-makers who were dedicated to highlighting the striking beauty of the undeveloped natural world and the incredible tenacity and grit that women can possess.

With a generous amount of drone footage, each film provided breathtaking vistas of coastlines, deserts, forests and mountainscapes, aimed at cultivating a yearning to escape the pressures of the urban lifestyle in exchange for a more natural, simplified, pristine experience. 

Bursts of applause followed the depicted vignettes that were especially poignant and awareness-raising

“Climbing Out” depicted a substance-using mother of two young children who took the audience along with her as she fought against the urge to relapse and climbed Mt. Rainier as part of her recovery. “Golden” featured an ecologist who repelled down cliff-sides to eagles’ nests to document the demise of the Golden Eagle.

In an obvious attempt to be woke, “Facing Sunrise” was the token film that highlighted a plump, Muslim Indian woman in her mid-thirties who divorced her husband and lost her mother in the same week, and the “bucket-list” that lead her to take up camping and eventually emerging from her grief. 

“The Speed Project 4.0” featured an all-women's relay team who ran in the Speed Project, a marathon in Death Valley from Santa Monica, CA to Las Vegas, NV. Though the featured team came in 10th overall, they showed grace in defeat and realized that they had done something they could “tell their kids about someday.” 

“Follow Through” did acknowledge critiques of the leading character’s privilege (a ski mountaineer who was the 4th person and the only woman to ever to ski all 90 “Chuting Gallery” lines in Utah’s Wasatch Mountains), but ultimately framed the feedback as bullying and as just one more obstacle to be overcome. 

So, if you are the type to wear outdoor performance gear, drive an all-wheel-drive sport utility vehicle and support Greta Thurnberg, you would have likely spent a lovely evening laughing out loud, wiping away a few stray tears, and dreaming about the untamed beauty of the wild and rugged outdoors. If on the other hand, you are more into undermining white supremacy and working toward racial justice, this festival probably isn’t the one for you. 

For more stuff that white people like, check out this still relevant blog: https://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/ 

Lissa Knudsen is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at newsreporter@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @lissaknudsen.