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An audience watches the No Man's Land Film Festival at the Baker Theater in Athens, Mar. 29, 2024.

Outdoor Pursuits hosts third annual No Man’s Land Film Festival

While Athens anticipates the upcoming 51st Athens International Film + Video Festival, another film festival came to town. Ohio University Outdoor Pursuits, along with the OU Recreation Majors/Minors Association, or OURMA, hosted a screening of the ninth annual No Man’s Land Film Festival on March 29 at the Baker Theater.

Founded in Denver in 2015 by Aisha Weinhold, the festival's primary goal is “un-defining feminine in adventure and sport through film.” The films range from those about skiing to photography to cycling, but all have the common theme of revolving around women, transgender and genderqueer people. It is a 501c3 nonprofit.

However, the festival is now an essentially one-person team, consisting of executive director Kathy Karlo. Karlo said No Man’s Land has gotten increasingly more inclusive in recent years.

“It was a sort of a response to the lack of female representation at the time,” she said. “In 2020, we went back and revised our mission statement to further include gender non-conforming or gender-expansive individuals as well, just further recognizing there's a lack of representation in the media industry.”

For OU’s third year of hosting No Man’s Land, there were a total of eight films shown. In order, the films were: “NGR: The Fabulous Life of Nancy Greene Raine,” “Re,” “The Debora Effect,” “The High Route,” “The Right to Joy,” “Both & Neither,” “Trailblaze” and “A Bitch of a Race.” “The Right to Joy” won Best of Festival this year at the festival’s flagship in Denver in early March.

After the screening, five panelists from Southeast Ohio had a discussion on women and genderqueer people in the outdoors. The panelists were: Madison Donohue, Zest Bodimer, Sydney Hansen, Anna Monarchino and Kylie Sauer.

A poster for the No Man's Land Film Festival at the Baker Theater in Athens, Mar. 29, 2024.

Hansen, a graduate student studying geology, said coming from a background in caving, she rarely sees others like her.

“It gets awareness out there for all the different fields and sports that these people that are typically not represented in these fields can get into,” Hasen said. “So typically, when I think about caving, I picture billboards with men with hard hats on, or the caving documentaries are typically male-dominated.”

A vast majority of representation in outdoor media, and the outdoor industry more broadly, is that of cisgender white men. Claire Waldrop, a junior studying English and the operations and logistics supervisor for Outdoor Pursuits, said she has faced discrimination while working in the outdoor industry.

“It's an industry that has a special place in my heart, but being a woman in that industry isn't always the easiest thing,” Waldrop said. “I've definitely experienced a lot of sexism.”

No Man’s Land will be on tour screening across the country through the rest of spring and the summer. Waldrop said she hopes the festival can continue and that Outdoor Pursuits can continue to host it.

“It's a really hard industry to be a part of, and the first time I went to No Man's Land, it was all these stories about women who had experienced the same things I had, and we're out there telling stories and celebrating the fact that we're women, and we're in this field,” Waldrop said. “I left feeling like I could do anything.”


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