“In the High Country” will also be shown in film festivals in Poland and South Africa.
“In the High Country,” a new trail running film featuring Anton Krupicka, debuted July 19-20 in Boulder, Colo., and began a limited-engagement tour across the U.S. Filmed and produced by Joel Wolpert, this 30-minute film is about living and running light and free, and it depicts how Krupicka’s running has evolved from roads to trails to mountains and to speed scrambling high peaks. Wolpert, who has previously produced short videos with trail runners Krupicka and Geoff Roes and a variety of other running subjects, released a 2-minute teaser earlier this year. After seeing the debut on July 19 in Boulder, it’s clear “In the High Country” is a ground-breaking film for the sport of trail running with amazing cinematography from Wolpert and thoughtful, introspective narration from Krupicka. (The film was backed, in part, by New Balance and Ultimate Direction, two brands that have worked with Krupicka to make innovative gear to match his running evolution.) Wolpert is the creative force behind The Wolpertinger, a mythical production house based in the hollows of West Virginia. He began running competitively, but, he says, it soon transformed into a way to explore and understand his surroundings. Filmmaking serves as his way to articulate the impressions of being out on the hill. Bonking, he says, is often the collateral. We caught up with Wolpert to talk about the film.
There’s been a lot of talk in the trail running community about your new film. How would you describe it in the nutshell?
In the High Country” is an impressionistic mountain running film, a visual essay about a life in the mountains. It offers a different perspective of running both from the kind of running that it portrays (high-altitude overland slogging) as well as its visual perspective.
You’ve created several videos and short films about trail running. Why do you find that subject so compelling to shoot?
At its heart, this group of films show figures interacting with landscape. Running is such a simple sport that the connection isn’t diluted by the need for much equipment or money. It is accessible to anyone, anywhere.
You’ve filmed with Anton before. What have you learned about him as a person and as a runner that you hope to convey in your new film?
I think the key idea is his immersive approach to mountain life. We share a similar mindset about the peaks: the individual miles, summits and specific runs or races are important, not as part of a tick-list, but rather as the pieces of a greater story — one that only becomes clear when looking at the sum of them.
As a runner, you understand how to tell authentic stories. Talk about your running and how it’s carried over into your filmmaking.
As much as films are about their subject, they are equally telling of the filmmaker. I feel that my films are somewhat transparent, that my personality is deeply imprinted onto every shot and edit. Part of this comes from doing everything solo. The parts of running that I love make their way into the films. A simple example is technical downhill running. It’s something that I’m proficient in doing and that I really enjoy. For an audience of trail or road runners or even non-runners, it allows them the chance to see what that feels like.
What’s next on your filmmaking horizon? Anything in the works? Any ideas you’d like to pursue?
Tough question. I have some rumblings of an idea about a piece about elemental connection with the earth. I’m also very excited to keep pushing towards different visual perspectives on ourselves and the flow of time.