Top prize winners at the 2013 5Point Film Festival set the tone for an exciting spring season of adventure. The long journey of solo explorer Kyle Dempster in the movie The Road From Karakol took the Best of the Fest award. The compelling feature showed viewers the importance of vulnerability in the face of adversity, an underestimated instinct that’s at the heart of any great expedition. Striped bare of clothing to cross a raging river in the opening frames and throughout the film Dempster reveals of himself far more than his skin.

“He wasn’t just naked on camera,” said director Fitz Cahall as he accepted the award. Cahall and his team did a masterful edit of 20-plus hours of footage to create an intimate portrait of Dempster, a two-time winner of climbing’s prestigious Piolets d’Or award. Seamlessly woven into a riveting narrative from head-mounted camera shots, the movie follows his bicycle and mountaineering trek through the former Soviet Union nation of Kyrgyzstan. Cold, wet, miserable, full of fear, joyful, and never so glad to be alive, Dempster leads the audience on a roller-coaster ride of emotion that’s thrilling to watch because it’s so raw and real. “We fell in love with him,” said Cahall.

These graphic portrayals of adventurers in action are the soul of the 5Point Experience. Captured on film and displayed in pure expressions of ecstasy on mountain bikes, skis, kayaks, running shoes and horseback these stories inspire members of the audience to look within themselves and seek out adventures of their own.

Cascada, winner of the prize for Best Cinematography, transports the audience along a whitewater highway through a Mexican jungle. Narrated and directed by filmmaker Anson Fogel, the movie opens the mind to infinite possibilities as paddlers charge their boats over roaring waterfalls into a churning abyss hundreds of feet below.

“I look around and see everyone doing precisely what they love to do,” Fogel says in the film. “Athletes, artists, the line between to two is gone now. Every moment, each day is perfect.”

But the human spirit is charged not just with adrenalin. Often viewers are made to experience the agonizing loss of each main character as they struggle through the quite desperation of failure. Fogel took an additional prize for Creative Excellence in the film Death of the Bar T. Without a word of dialog the story of an old rancher unfolds in a dazzling display of imagery that illustrates the hard and precarious life of men and women of the West who work the land. Under foreclosure by the bank generations of hopes and dreams are stripped away to leave the rancher and the audience with an uncertain future and an ambiguous ending that literally goes up in flames.

True to the 5Point experience each film carries with it an element of triumph no matter how dire the circumstances. Winner of the Most Inspiring award, All That I Am, tells the story of disabled athlete Aaron Baker. After a devastating motorcycle accident leaves him a quadriplegic, Baker defies the odds to reclaim his life and become a competitive cyclist.

“It’s the culmination of a lot of the blood sweat, fears, and tears, literally. Rebuilding my body, redefining myself from complete paralysis,” he says in the film. “I’ve never been happier in my entire life than right now.”

That struggle against the hurdles life throws in our path can be made to define who we are in life or help us to reveal the person we most want to become. And when we choose the road less traveled we consciously decide to put our very existence to the test.

The film Crossing the Ice set two Australian adventurers on the path to ski unsupported from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back. Hoping to become the first to achieve such an amazing feat covering more than 1,400 miles the main characters Cas and Jonesy suddenly find themselves facing an even greater challenge as they’re plunged into a race to the bottom of the world with the more experienced Norwegian explorer Alex Gamme. Taking the prize for Spirit of Adventure as well as the People’s Choice award “Crossing The Ice” is a marvel of human endurance, perseverance and sportsmanship.

In a four-day program of more than 40 films 5Point is truly an experience to enrapture both the mind and spirit. Captivated by characters, each more sympathetic than the last, the audience can’t help but see something of themselves in every story. Curated with the diabolic intention to thump the heart and the lift soul this year’s collection of films is a testament to the unquenchable human desire to dream big, travel far and aspire well beyond our vision.

The Joy Trip Project is made possible with the support sponsors PatagoniaRayovac and the New Belgium Brewing Company