Screened as part of NZIFF 2015
Marah Strauch’s spectacular documentary celebrates the reckless free spirit – or insanity, if you prefer – of Carl Boenish, the pioneering hero and cheerleader of BASE jumping. The name is an acronym for building, antenna, span, earth (think mountains) – the things that its practitioners, equipped with parachutes, like to leap off. Boenish made free fall photography an integral part of the sport, providing Strauch with an exhaustive visual archive of his exploits – and affording us the vicarious giant-screen thrill of leaping off mountains too.
“Not only was Boenish a man of his moment [he died in 1984], he was also light-years ahead of it, anticipating the explosion in the kinds of authority-defying extreme sports that are now firmly embedded in the mainstream. Marah Strauch’s gripping documentary about Boenish’s life on land and in the air shows how this sunny optimist ditched a career as an electrical engineer at Hughes Aircraft to follow his love of skydiving full-time.
Soon his feats would grow more and more outrageous and dangerous, as he graduated from parachuting out of airplanes to illegally jumping from Yosemite’s El Capitan and downtown LA skyscrapers as one of the daredevil originators of the BASE-jumping movement. He was like Evel Knievel with a blissed-out smile and a rip cord… until he pushed too far. Interviews with Boenish’s wife, Jean, give his life story perspective and heart, especially in the film’s tragic finale.” — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly