Highlining on Canada’s West Coast has become a popular sport and this new documentary features some wild feats.
By Drew Copeland
A group of folks gathered in front of the Centre for Performing Arts, Downtown Vancouver, last Friday. Many donned the typical garb of an outdoor community: a mixture of smiles, plaid, puffy jackets, toques and worn approach shoes. A few are of the classier contingent and wear heeled shoes and fancy coats. People trade enthusiastic introductions and overdue embraces as the crowd thickens. Inside the theatre, members of the audience yell amiably to their friends presenting on stage.
This group of people have gathered to see Untethered, a documentary showcasing highlining in Squamish last summer. It was put together by Levi Allen VanderKwaak, whose company is Left Coast.
In short, the movie is sick. It tells the tale, gets into the ethos of the sport, showing something of the lifestyle and motivation of Squamish’s best highliners, but it is also a piece of art unto itself.
Levi deftly blended drone footage and time lapse with interviews and panoramic shots; he paired the footage with a varied pallet of music to create a rather compelling, albeit short film.
It clearly conveys how walking without a tether on a line 250 metres off of the deck is a serious pursuit, but mostly, it shows the playful vibe that permeates Squamish’s excited slackliners.
The story builds to Spencer Seabrooke’s solo of the Itus, a 64-metre highline in the Stawamus Chief’s North, North Gully. Spencer broke the world record free solo on August 2nd, 2015. Untethered also shows Squamish’s stoked slackers hanging out. They’re having a time walking the water line at Brohm Lake and swinging off of Branywine Falls on a rope swing.
During Q & A, after the film had played, both Spencer and Levi give credence to the growing slackline community, which, based on the 200 plus turnout to the evenings event, is coming into maturity.
The film is being made available online December 9.