Enthusiasm for the outdoors radiated across campus on Thursday, November 7 when Outdoor Education and the Shaw Wellness Institute co-hosted the 3rd annual  No Man’s Land Film Festival, an international film festival that empowers athletes in the world of outdoor adventure. 

As students and faculty arrived at the event, they were immediately welcomed by the sound of enrgetic music, the smell of delicious food and the sight of many friendly faces. 

Before the film officially began members of the Colgate community were encouraged to come early and make small talk over a complimentary  dinner catered by the Hamilton Eatery. People also had the opportunity to enter a raffle and donate to Girls on the Run, a North American non-profit program that works to encourage pre-teen girls to develop healthy lifestyles and positive self-image. 

“I volunteered with Girls on the Run last year through Hamilton Central and found their whole program to be very empowering because it teaches young girls how to have self-confidence and work towards a goal, and it seeks to undo the stereotypes that most girls grow up under. We were really inspired by Girls on the Run and thought their whole mission connected very well with No Man’s Land Film Festival,” junior Ali Altman said. 

“As an organization, Girls on the Run is locally and nationally funded, but they recently had national funding cuts so we wanted to raise money specifically for the teams at Hamilton Central in order to give back to organizations in our community that are inspiring young girls to do some of the amazing things we will see in the films.” 

After enjoying the pre-show festivities, people made their way into the auditorium and settled into their seats. Altman, Senior Karen Lawrence and sophomore Kelsey Bennet were responsible for putting together the event and gave a few remarks before the start of the film. After giving  a brief introduction, excitement filled the room as the screenings began. 

The collection of short films highlighted stories about women immersing themselves in nature and thriving in outdoor activities such as mountain biking, skiing, swimming, fishing and ice-climbing. Not only did these films share powerful stories about women pushing themselves to the limit, but they also showcased how some women find peace and comfort in nature. The films highlighted how being outside and engaging with nature has helped numerous women cope with adversity and find internal peace and serenity.

Whether they were mourning the death of their husband, recovering from cancer or dealing with the heartbreak of a miscarriage, the women in these films inspired viewers to seize opportunities to get outside and be in nature as a way to reconnect with themselves.

“I really hope the audience noticed the women in leadership roles and got excited about doing outdoor activities. The film festival is not about encouraging people to embark on crazy or intense outdoor adventures, but to just be outside in nature in any way possible. Sometimes the most realistic thing for people to do is just go on a walk, and I really think that is awesome,” Lawrence said.          

After the films ended, anticipation filled the room as raffle winners were announced. People got some great new items, winning prizes from Deuter, NRS, Polar Bottle and Alpine Start. 

Now that Colgate’s Outdoor Education program has hosted the No Man’s Land Film Festival for three years, OE leaders hope to make it a permanent tradition on campus.   

“Hopefully we can keep the legacy of the film festival at Colgate and continue hosting this event in the future. I would love to see the dialogue and the event transform and change over the years in response to stuff going on around campus. We had a great turnout this year and hopefully the event will continue to build over time,” Altman said. 

 By bringing these films to Colgate it gives students the opportunity to see women like themselves excel in areas like the outdoors that typically remain unseen. It empowers women to voice their experience and find and outlet to do so. These films reminds us of the empowering aspects film can bring to a community.

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