Reel Stories preview series: Into the Canyon


The 16th annual Reel Stories film festival is just around the corner and will feature four days of hand-picked, thought-provoking documentary films from all over the world.

The festival will take place at the Uptown Theatre from February 20th to 23rd and tickets are $10 for each viewing. In anticipation of this event, we will be previewing a selection of films that you can check out this weekend at the festival.

Into the Canyon

It’s a funny thing we do, instead of taking the easy route, we choose the rough. Instead of being complacent, we push ourselves, we seek discomfort. Why? One reason is perhaps the pursuit of knowing ourselves. Another might be to crack the surface and gain insight into the human spirit and every so often, we are lucky enough to have a lens through which to watch this journey.

Image Courtesy of the Barrie Film Festival

Into the Canyon gives viewers a glimpse into a world that is more alien than most realize. More people have walked on the surface of the moon than have walked the entire length of the Grand Canyon but thanks to filmmaker Pete McBride and writer Kevin Fedarko, we get to witness the rose that is the Grand Canyon. It’s breathtaking beauty a visage to the thorns that lie below.

Though the likable duo’s trek takes them through some of the most dazzling natural environments you will ever see, it becomes apparent that this beauty is under siege, from proposed developments in the East to Helicopter Alley in the West. The canyon has two qualities, rock and silence, and human interference is robbing it of both. However, what is presented, at first, as a seemingly one-sided issue, opens up to reveal a more complicated situation.

Image Courtesy of the Barrie Film Festival

Developments in the canyon would lead to the creation of over 3,500 jobs and create a revenue stream for both native populations located near the canyon, the Navaho Nation and the Havasupai Indian Reservation. Not to mention that so-called “below the rim” experiences are unreachable for so many people. This again brings us back to deeper questions: is it too much to ask for all things for all people?

It is clear in this documentary that a balance must be struck between the two but neither side seems capable of compromise. A dogmatic approach to the sacredness of land meets the irresistible temptation to monetize beauty. Just as balance is important when journeying through the narrow and often harrowing paths that snake the canyon, what we ask of this natural phenomenon must also be balanced. Ask too little and a valuable resource will be squandered, but ask too much and the river will no longer reach the sea.