Backcountry Film Festival Presents Soñadora: Winter Wildlands Alliance’s first-ever human-powered film grant

By Melinda Quick, Events and Marketing Director

Photo by Micheli Oliver (@micheliphoto)

This write-up was originally featured in our Spring 2023 Trail Break issue.

This past year, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. launched a new human-powered film grant program to foster the production of quality wild stories for the Backcountry Film Festival annual tour. With the goal of uplifting voices not typically heard in the outdoor community, we awarded the 2022 grant to a film project out of the Tetons called “Soñadora.”

“Soñadora” (Spanish for “dreamer”) follows the story of Vanessa Chavarriaga Posada, a mountain athlete, environmental sociologist, and Colombiana. After immigrating to Michigan from Medellín, Colombia, when she was six years old, Vanessa now resides in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The film shares moments from her favorite outdoor activities across three different seasons: backcountry skiing, trail running, and foraging. Poetically woven into these activities are stories of Vanessa’s struggle to maintain connection to herself and her culture in a predominantly white community. “Soñadora” ignites a conversation around the ingrained duality of life as an “outsider” in the outdoors and in this country.

Screened at over 70 Backcountry Film Festival tour stops this winter, “Soñadora” will also be featured at other film festivals and will be available to view online for Winter Wildlands Alliance members later this fall.

“I learned to love in Spanish and I learned to fight in English. I’ve spent a lifetime looking for translations; knowing the name of something in one language but not the other. Even my voice sounds different when I switch between languages—one is warm and it sounds like a song, flows off the tongue like honey; the other is more calculated, exact, cold. Existing in these multitudes is confusing, contradicting, isolating. Instead of having to diminish my identities to this binary, I’m learning to expand myself to embrace all of it at once. My world is bigger because it has to be.”

—Vanessa Chavarriaga