Backcountry Film Festival Presents: What If?

Our second annual human-powered film coming to a screen near you
By Melinda Quick, Winter Wildlands Alliance Events and Marketing Director

Photo from “What if?” film and courtesy Mallory Duncan and Josh Goldsmith

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

Last winter, Winter Wildlands Alliance and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. launched our first ever film grant to produce “Soñadora,” which is the story of Vanessa Chavarriaga, a mountain athlete, environmental sociologist, and Colombian immigrant living in the Tetons. The film’s reception during the Backcountry Film Festival’s national tour was resounding. We catapulted into another grant round to seek out cinematic snow stories that would otherwise go untold without our grant support.

As our second ever human-powered film production, we are thrilled to share the film “What If?” on tour this winter. “What If?” places us in the mind of backcountry skier, Mallory “Mal” Duncan, as he contemplates the delicate balance between risk and reward, reverence and conquest, confidence and trepidation, hubris and vulnerability.

Initially a poem written by Mal, his words come alive on screen to challenge a world focused on expeditions, first ascents, and conquering mountains. It’s easy to forget to find harmony in our ecosystem–that we aren’t fighting the mountains but learning to listen, understand, and embrace them. “What If?” speaks to the soul of many and shifts how we enjoy nature as a collective.

We hope you get to experience “What If?” on tour with the Backcountry Film Festival this winter. The film will also be shared with Winter Wildlands Alliance members next spring.