When Skip Armstrong screened three films at last year’s 5Point Film Festival, he had no idea what the next year would bring.
Among those, there was a move to Carbondale, a film tour and a chance to work with the medium of his dreams: water.
“I essentially didn’t leave,” he says, after visiting Carbondale for the four-day film festival last April. “I wasn’t working in filmmaking for a job, but they (Forge Motion Pictures) found me and I have been working in film to some extent since then.”
Now he’s returning to the festival with the Forge Motion Pictures-produced “Of Souls + Water,” screening two films in a five-part series that showcases the artistry and ethos of water. The series showcases five archetypal characters on water, including kayakers and a surfer.
“Anson Fogel gets a lot of credit for the piece, because he had the vision for an artistic and poetic piece about water,” Armstrong says of the founder of Forge Motion Pictures. “I had always wanted to do something with water sports and we combined those visions. It’s not adrenaline-based. … We wanted to bring something to the screen with a high-production value.”
Armstrong is a principle in Forge Motion Pictures, a Carbondale-based film and production company focused on the outdoors and environment. Fogel is the founder of this award-winning company, which is behind such films as “Cold” and “Chasing Water.”
On Friday, they’ll show “The Nomad,” a short film that tells the story of Erik Boomer, a 27-year old kayaker who has navigated some of the wildest whitewater in the world, and became one of the first people to circumnavigate Ellesmere Island in Canada, along with John Turk. (The pair will give a special presentation on Friday night about this feat). “The Nomad” is shot in Baja, Mt. Hood, an unnamed urban landscape, and Oregon’s Sahalie Falls, which Armstrong picked during an eight-day scouting trip through the Pacific Northwest.
“This festival is about fostering creativity and helping to define how we tell these stories,” says Justin Clifton, 5Point’s executive director. “We’re bringing together the best of the best. All of these folks really want to be at 5Point, and all have the same or similar experiences together.”
Founded by Julie Kennedy in 2008, the film festival embraces humility, respect, commitment, balance and purpose as guiding principles.
It’s more than “adventure porn” for a mass audience, says Clifton. Part of the appeal of 5Point is that many of the filmmakers, producers and featured athletes or characters also come to the festival to give presentations, or to simply absorb other films as part of the audience.
“It really is a time to kick off the spring, and share this amazing creativity and inspire passions as we get ready for the next nine months,” says Clifton.
The festival, which started on Thursday, runs through Sunday with one full program each night comprised of several short films. On Saturday, children’s programming, an ice cream social and three full programs give movie-goers more choices.
“Saturday is geared toward seeking out a soulful place and looking at why we do what we do. It attempts to answer that question of ‘what’s the driving force of getting us into the mountains,’” says Clifton.
The second film Armstrong, Fogel and their partner Thatcher Bean will show is “The Mother.” Part of Saturday night’s program, it documents the story of a 67-year-old sea kayaker named Melody.
“It tells the honest story of what it’s like to start to look in the rearview mirror,” says Armstrong. “She is getting close to 70, but realizing there is still a lot of life to live.”
And for Armstrong, there’s nothing like premiering these films in the city that’s become his hometown.
“There is a real sense of community here. Other festivals can be disparate, but everyone is together in the same room. It’s incredibly cool.”
Can’t Make the Movies?
Try these insider tips for free festival fun
1. 5Point Gallery Reception at Phat Thai on Friday, 3:30-5 p.m. featuring climber and photographer Ben Moon
2. Big Art Ice Cream Social and Community Picnic on Saturday, 12:30-2:30 p.m. at the Carbondale Rec Center
3. All ticket-holders get 10 percent off food at participating Carbondale restaurants
4. Campfire Stories — Saturday, 2:30-5 p.m. at Steve’s Guitars. An intimate venue talk featuring Fitz Cahall of The Dirtbag Diaries podcast
5Point Film Festival
Carbondale Rec Center
www.5pointfilm.org  for full schedule
$22/advance, $28/day of