Festival History

  1. passion for outdoor + adventure films

    Festival launches

    The Festival was created in 2003 by two friends who shared a passion for cultural and outdoor-adventure documentary films. That year, the Festival only half-filled the historic Orpheum Theater in downtown Flagstaff during a two-day event.

  2. young filmmakers

    Started Student Program

    In 2004 we came out of the gates much stronger and filled the theater for two full days and nights of film. We also started our Student Program, which brought educationally stimulating films to Flagstaff middle and high school students.

  3. more films for you

    Festival Expands to 4 days

    The festival expanded to 4 days and nights of film in 2005 and drew crowds from all over the state of Arizona. In 2006 we were able to draw on the success of 2005 and bring in several filmmakers to introduce and present their films.

  4. environmental activist

    Honored Martin Litton

    2007 was an especially great year for us with the expansion of our Student Program and the addition of an Environmental Program and late-night Extreme Sports Program. In the Environmental Program we dedicated a complete day and night of the festival to a particular environmental concern, highlight an environmental feature and create an expert panel to address the chosen topic, which in 2007 was the global water crisis.
    In 2007 we also honored the great environmental activist Martin Litton, who gave a moving presentation and received standing ovations for his work in saving the Colorado River from being dammed within Grand Canyon National Park.

  5. discussed issues

    focus on Environment

    In 2008 we focused on ANWR and Energy Usage Issues for our Environmental Program and brought in Dale Djerassi to present his film Oil on Ice, and lead the panel discussion that followed. We also expanded our Student Program to meet the increased demand and once again presented a dynamic and well-attended Extreme Sports program.

  6. mentoring youth

    Student filmmakers

    In 2009, we introduced two wonderful new programs made possible by a grant from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). One of those programs was a three day filmmaking seminar on the Hopi Reservation. The program was extremely successful and we hope to provide this type of support again in the future.
    In a similar light, 2009 began our new Student Filmmakers program. This program allows high school aged students to learn about the process of filmmaking. Through a series of tutorials and access to film equipment and filmmaker mentors, the students created films, one of which was showcased at the 2010 festival.

  7. film debut

    Power in the Pristine

    Power in the Pristine made its debut at the 2010 festival. The film follows a team of passionate and talented folks from the Southwest who are fighting to “keep Patagonia wild.” The filmmakers who include professional athlete, Timmy O’Neill and luminary writer, Craig Childs immerse themselves into this remote region of Chile. Craig Childs, adventure author and commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, enchanted festival attendees with two spoken word performances.
    The 2010 four day event included numerous guest filmmakers, an ‘extreme’ late-night program featuring high energy sport films, a local filmmaker/themed session, numerous student film submissions and a hugely successful student program and student filmmaker program.

  8. community support

    exceeding expectations

    The 2011 festival exceeded all expectations. This was accomplished by the generosity of the local business community and yet again, a world-class line-up of films. Films from the festival have gone on to win awards at other festival as well as the Academy Awards including this past year with the film “If A Tree Falls”. This speaks to the quality programming of the festival.

  9. smashing success

    10th Anniversary

    Our tenth anniversary event in 2013 was a smashing success with 2,000 film-goers despite gorgeous fall weather drawing people to the beautiful outdoors. We introduced additional venues at Theatrikos theatre and Fire Creek Coffee for screening more films, panel discussions, incredible speakers, an Extreme late-night program featuring high-energy sport films, three days of dedicated programs to students at our local public schools, an environmental-themed program, many student film submissions and a local filmmakers showcase. 2013 was our inaugural year of an intimate venue at the Rendezvous bar allowing for FREE screenings of films with the directors present to have a unique dialogue between festival attendee’s and the filmmakers.

  10. a Flagstaff legend

    Ed Shred Local's Night launched

    On February 25, 2016, Ed George, a Flagstaff legend and world-renowned filmmaker, passed away after his daily bike ride. Ed was a fixture in Flagstaff for more than four decades. He could regularly be seen downtown, bouncing from point to point in his signature tank top and shorts, stopping by to share tales of his latest adventure and “the greatest” ideas for collaboration. Ed was the greatest of friends to an unimaginable many around the world. He gave selflessly of his time and craft. Ed lived everyday until it overflowed with joy and adventure, exemplifying what matters most in this unpredictable life. He inspired people around the world from mountaintop to canyon bottom.


    To preserve and sustain Ed George’s voice and vision through film and photography, powered by passion, generosity, collaboration, and adventure.

    The Ed Fund strives to keep Ed George’s endless enthusiasm, boundless energy, infinite passion and uncontained optimism alive through environmentally and culturally based visual projects. Honoring the values Ed exemplified everyday, the community of the Ed Fund will collaborate – joining voices across the world – and continue to push boundaries and explore our individual identities and global connectedness.

  11. Celebrating 100th year

    Dedicated to the Grand Canyon

    The Hopi call it Ongtupqa, The Navajo Tsékooh Hatsoh, plenty of old salts refer to it as the big ditch. Whatever you call it, wherever in the world you travel from to get to it, there is a moment that is universally shared when we stand at the rim and look into The Grand Canyon. Conversation stops, handheld screens are temporarily disengaged, wonder surfaces from a mile below and for that moment we are free from government shutdowns, votes of no confidence, dirty laundry. We are 2 billion years old, we are newborn, we are in a moment where hope is ignited and dreams of a better world are within reach. In this our 17th year, we are proud to be a partner in the Grand Canyon National Park Centennial, and we are thrilled to be presenting a line-up of 89 films that in their unique ways evoke that grand moment.

  12. Virtual Reality Program

    Getting Real in 2020

    We are stoked to bring in the new decade by kicking off our Virtual Reality Film Program. In attendance to help us get off the ground is VR Filmmaker Alisa Geiser and Visual Storyteller Seth Winslow. Along with VR Team Leader, Laura Kish, they will be helping you get real all festival long in these special programs as well as random locations that will be updated on our social media. It’s 2020 folks, time to get real! The Virtual Reality Team will also be presenting the program at select special events and film venues throughout the festival.

    In 2019 the Cosanti Foundation and Arcosanti received funding to begin exploring the medium of Virtual Reality as a vehicle for both storytelling and education about STEAM principles. To date, Visual Storyteller Seth Winslow has developed several VR “Arcology” (architecture+ecology) models for display at events and to enhance curriculums for local schools.