Put several hundred fish-heads in a room together with a well-stocked bar, and nearly two hours of the best new fly-fishing cinematography, and what do you get? A party.
The International Fly Fishing Film Festival (IF4) started the year with a sold-out show at the Denver Fly Fishing Show January 6, and is touring the country appearing at five total Fly Fishing shows across the country and at least a dozen independent venues from Spokane, Washington, to Fort Collins, Colorado. Click here for a complete listing of events.
I caught the show twice—once at the Somerset, New Jersey Fly Fishing Show and again at a slightly smaller theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The crowd gets rowdy even before the movies begin, when organizers dole out a tackle box full of prizes—Airflo fly lines and G.Loomis rods anyone? (Pay attention when the prizes are thrown, as evidently a bystander was hit with a prize at one of the shows).
The event starts off with seven short films of about 5 minutes each. Some, like Plan B by Faceless Fly Fishing are the whole enchilada, (so to speak) in that you see everything the filmmaker originally intended.
The main course of IF4 is six longer feature films—which at about 10 minutes each amount to a meaty teaser of a larger commercial effort such as Cross Current Fishing's Cast Alaska or A Backyard to Nowhere by Sellfish Media.
The films catch the inherent spirit of adventure in fly fishing, and highlight the reasons we love fish and the places they swim. Notice I said "fish" as these aren't all trout films. In fact, some of the most breathtaking and exuberant films are a long way from trout country. Devil's Gold shows the high-flying antics of golden dorado in the clear rivers of Bolivia, and A Backyard to Nowhere shows some of the best strikes and belly flops of fly-caught pike ever caught on film. IF4 also takes us to Cuba, Costa Rica, and to faraway Mongolia in The River Time Forgot.
If there's one overriding message to IF4, it's that these places are special and need to be protected. Mikey Wier will not become wealthy selling Mongolia DVDs, but his film gives birth to the idea (in my mind) that Mongolia is both pristine and unprotected. As we know all too well, development comes first, and protection and legislation usually comes far after its too late.
So while there's plenty to celebrate at IF4, there's also plenty to learn, and that's also part of the essence of fly fishing some of the IF4 film-makers have managed to capture. Yes, we're here to have fun, but once we stop learning, it isn't fun anymore. And with the twists and turns in both the story lines and the travel itineraries in IF4 there was enough there to make me wanted to see it twice.