The New York WILD Film Festival kicked off Jan. 24 at the famed Explorers Club on the Upper East Side with the screening of the Dos Equis Stay Thirsty grant winning film, "Snows of the Nile" by Dr. Neil Losin and Dr. Nate Dappen.
Festival patrons were welcomed into the warm enclave of the Explorer’s Club, with treats of exotic hors d'oeuvres such as scorpions on endive, tomatoes pierced with grub worms and tarantulas on a skewers. For those not so brave pork sliders and shrimp were available as well as plenty of Dos Equis beer. Adding to the WILD and exotic theme were some feathery guests, an Eurasian Eagle Owl with a piercing gaze, a sweet Barred Owl who melted hearts with the slow blink of his large eyes with every head stroke by a guest and a Kestrel, who was happy to sit on the arm of anyone willing to hold him.
Tours of the Explorer’s Club were given by the informative and lively Executive Director Will Roseman. Every room of the Club is filled with historic artifacts from James Cameron’s Explorer’s Club flag which has taken to Mount Everest and the Mariana Trench, the highest and lowest spots on earth to Robert Peary’s sled used during the first trip to the North Pole to a huge polar bear who stands guard outside the library. At every turn of the tour, people stood in awe and amazement at the history and accomplishments of Explorer’s Club members
The film, "Snows of the Nile," covered the trek of the passionate explorers Dr. Neil Losin and Dr. Nate Dappen as they ascended Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains. The summits of these “Mountains of the Moon,” are some the only equatorial glaciers on Earth whose very existence caused a sensation in Europe when they were first climbed in 1906, are changing fast. Their glaciers have shrunk by more than 80% in the last century, and scientists predict that the remaining ice will disappear in less than 20 years.
Neil and Nate knew if they were ever going to do this trip, they had to do it now but a trip of this kind was not cheap. While researching how to make this trip happen, they found out about The Dos Equis Academy Stay Thirsty Grant, which offers eligible applicants the opportunity to realize their dreams and at the same time showcase their ability to communicate their unique insight, perspective, passion, vision and joie d’vivre to others through their blogging, videography, photography and reporting skills. With footage shot by Neil’s wife and Nate’s girlfriend they created their entry for the competition and won the first grant of $25,000.
The trek to retrace the steps of the Duke of Abruzzi’s legendary 1906 ascent was aided by guides and porters of the Bakonjo people, who consider themselves the gatekeepers of the Rwenzori Mountains, had the goal to retrace the steps of the Duke of Abruzzi’s legendary 1906 ascent and re-capture photographer Vittorio Sella's glacier photos.
While simply completing the assent to the Rwenzori mountains with peaks exceeding 16,000 feet is an accomplishment in itself, Neil and Nate’s goal was to re-capture the glacier photos from the 1906 expedition by photographer Vittorio Sella to show the result of a century of climate change.
The filmaker’s said their lowest point on the trip was then they didn’t think they were going to be able to re-capture all of those images. The formation of the peaks had changed significantly by the retreat of the glaciers and the Rwenzoris' notoriously unpredictable weather was not cooperating. You will have to see the 25 minute film to see how the full expedition ended.
The breathtaking footage was captured along the expedition crossed through the five different vegetation zones found in the Rwenzori Mountains. When asked how they planned their shots along the trek they said simply planned extra time to allow Neil and Nate to capture as much footage as possible. Their guides didn’t believe it when they said would probably take them twice as long to hike as they would need to stop to photograph and film. By day three, the guides were believers. They noted that as slow as they ascended everyday, Bakonjo porters would travel back and forth daily to keep the expedition party supplied. The Bakonjo had never seen the early photos and in the end, they even asked what they could do to save the glaciers. If it was only that easy. Snows of the Nile can be viewed on Vimeo here.
The New York WILD Film Festival is the first annual documentary film festival in New York to showcase a spectrum of topics, from exploration and adventure to wildlife and the environment, bringing all things WILD to the most urban city in the world.
The New York WILD Film Festival, through powerful, exhilarating films and conversations presents an extraordinary opportunity to exchange ideas, affect vital change and celebrate the wild.
Round 3 of The Dos Equis Academy Stay Thirsty Grant is open for entries now. Even you could fulfill your dreams of being an explorer and maybe, someday, become a member of the exclusive Explorer’s Club.