They/Them is a groundbreaking new climbing film that I highly recommend
The film, featuring top climber Lor Sabourin, debuts online on Oct. 6
I’ve been watching climbing films for 25 years, and have been a jury member at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival and the Whistler Film Festival, and believe that They/Them is one of the most important climbing films ever made.
I had the opportunity to watch it on my laptop thanks to a link that Patagonia sent me last week. You can watch the film tonight at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, which will be followed by a panel discussion with featured climber Lor Sabourin, Nikki Smith, Justin Clifton and Blake McCord. The film will be available to watch online for free after the discussion.
The film description reads: For Lor Sabourin, climbing is more than a sport; it’s a way of exploring identity and building resilience in the face of adversity. They/Them follows Lor, a trans climber, into the sandstone canyons of northern Arizona, on a journey to piece together one of the hardest and most inspiring routes of their life. By embracing the strength in vulnerability, Lor has found the space to thrive and build a climbing community that others like themself can call home.
I don’t want to give anything away, but the film blends Sabourin projecting Cousin of Death, a five-pitch 5.13+ trad line, with an intimate look at their personal life on and off the rock. From bullying and online hate, to the love and support of a partner, family and a growing community, I walked away from this film educated, highly inspired and as a huge fan of Sabourin’s approach to working on hard climbs.
Film producer and Patagonia alpine and rock climbing marketing manager, Justin Roth says “At Patagonia, we look to highlight stories that show the beauty of our planet and the athletes and activists that embrace its gifts. They/ Them embodies each of these themes and goes one step further in opening our eyes to communities that are often overlooked in the outdoors space.”
The film comes with a content warning: This film includes discussions of eating disorders, body dysphoria, self-harm, sexual assault, and suicide. While we have done our best to explore these topics conscientiously, remember that we are looking through the lens of a single person’s experience. Please take care of yourself as you watch, and use the resources provided below to find support if you are struggling with any of these topics.
“There’s going to be non-binary climbers, because there’s non-binary people everywhere,” Sabourin says in the trailer below. This groundbreaking film is unlike any climbing film I’ve seen before, and I hope to see more like it at upcoming festivals for years to come.