Even though most of us would rather be outside most of the time, blissfully disconnected and far away from the glowing light of any screens, big or small. There’s no denying the pleasure of cozying up with a movie, especially on a cold winter night. If you’re looking for inspiration – or perhaps a little armchair adventure – here are some of our favorite documentaries that offer the perfect opportunity to Netflix and, well, chill.
180° SOUTH (2010, directed by Chris Malloy)
Ready to develop some serious wanderlust? Then settle in with this chronicle of surfer/photographer Jeff Johnson’s quest to re-trace the 1968 trip Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard made with his friend, the late Doug Tompkins, co-founder of The North Face. The two venture between California and Patagonia (which, incidentally, also resulted in a documentary – Mountain of Storms). While the film has plenty of drool-worthy surf and climbing segments, it also has a lot of heart – and a well-balanced message about the importance of conservation.
THE BARKLEY MARATHONS: THE RACE THAT EATS ITS YOUNG (2014, directed by Annika Iltis & Timothy James Kane)
This one's for masochists, or at least people who like to watch masochists do their thing. The Barkley Marathon is a grueling but quirky ultramarathon held annually in the thick woods of Tennessee's Frozen Head State Park. The film documents the quirky world of the event itself, with its race director, Gary Cantrell, and the strong (and possibly daredevil) athletes who experience a bit of malevolent madness.
CHASING ICE (2012, directed by Jeff Orlowski)
While a movie with "Ice" in the title probably doesn't look like this gold This climate change documentary is the smartest choice in the dead of winter and should earn a spot on everyone's must-see list. Just make sure you have extra cover handy. The cinematography is impressive, as is the message.
ENDLESS SUMMER (1966, directed by Bruce Brown)
Filmmaker Bruce Brown, who died in early December at the age of 80, is widely regarded as the father of surf movies and The Endless Summer is one of the main reasons for which he received this award. The film, which has inspired many others (by the way, "Mountain of Storms" by Yvon Chouinard and Doug Tompkins was one of them) follows surfers Robert August and Mike Hynson in search of waves around the world. The cinematography and music will take you there.
FINDING TRACTION (2014, directed by Jaime Jacobsen and Charles Dye)
The Vermont Long Trail is widely considered the oldest "Long Trail" of the world of the United States. Here, ultramarathoner Nikki Kimball traverses an incredibly steep, rugged and uneven course on a challenging journey to set a world speed record. Kimball is an absolutely captivating character, a paragon of courage and grace as she gives her all.
LE GRAND SEUL (2015, directed by Greg Kohs)
You might want to grab that blanket you used earlier as The Great Alone travels north into the snowiest and coldest region of Alaska, in search of the best dog sled racer, Lance. Macky. The scenery is stunning and the story of Mackey's deep connection to the sport and his quest to regain Iditarod glory after overcoming a cancer diagnosis is fascinating.
INSPIRED TO RIDE (2015 , directed by Mike Dion)
This one is for bike enthusiasts, especially those who like to cruise very long kilometres. The documentary follows several cyclists, including Julianna Buhring and the late Mike Hall, on their maiden voyage, tackling the 4,233-mile TransAmerica Trail on an unsupervised ride between Astoria, Oregon, and Yorktown, Virginia. While it's a celebration of suffering, it's also inspirational.
JUMBO WILD (2105, directed by Nick Waggoner)
This is another entry to the world of Patagonia, but with implications for the environment and an embassy at 180˚ South. It's also particularly timely news given that its subject, the controversial proposal to build a resort in the heart of the pristine Jumbo Valley in British Columbia's Purcell Mountains, is currently in the news.
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN (2014, directed by Marah Strauch)
It is undeniable that the sport of BASE jumping has a polarizing appeal; There are those who appreciate their emotional, physical and mental aspects and others who think these people are crazy. Either way, it's a fascinating look at the "founder" of the sport, Carl Boenish.
VALLEY UPRISING (2014, directed by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen )
It's a history movie, but it has nothing to do with the dry guy you saw in high school. Instead, Valley Uprising documents a half-century of wild, woolly climbing in Yosemite, filled with some of the biggest names in the sport, both in terms of people and routes.