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‘Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story’ to screen at Isis Theatre on Thursday

A portion of the poster for "Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story" shows a snowboarder on a mountain.
Courtesy photo
The International Sports Film Festival will be screening the documentary “Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story” on Jan. 26 at the Isis Theatre in Aspen. The festival founder and the film’s director say the film shares a message of positivity.

“Dear Rider: The Jake Burton Story” tells the story of one of snowboarding’s founding fathers, and it’s screening in Aspen the same week that some of the world’s best extreme snowboarders will be competing in the Winter X Games at Buttermilk — some of them on Burton snowboards.

The 2021 documentary about late snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter is coming to the Isis Theatre in Aspen on Thursday, marking the Aspen debut of the International Sports Film Festival. Both the film’s director Fernando Villena and festival founder Josh Merwin will attend the event.

Merwin said this film is “more than just about snowboarding.”

“It’s about Jake’s passion for life and having fun, and really his entrepreneurial spirit and taking this idea and just kind of trying it on and doing it and making it happen,” Merwin said in a joint Zoom interview with “Dear Rider” director Fernando Villena.

Villena hopes audiences pick up on Carpenter’s positive philosophy, which left a lasting impression on Villena when he was making the film.
“You hear it all the time, ‘living life to the fullest,’ but he did,” Villena said. “He left it all out on the field.”

Villena said working on “Dear Rider” helped carry him through a challenging time during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The film “made me appreciate my friends and my family and really, really embrace my passions and what I want to do with my time, the time that I have,” Villena said.

“I think a lot of people who watch the film [can] kind of have that same experience, … embracing their passions and letting go of their fears,” he added.

Proceeds from tomorrow’s screening will be split between “Through the Lens,” an organization that aims to build community among sports fans, and Burton’s “Chill Foundation,” youth development program oriented around board sports like snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and paddleboarding.

Merwin said the International Sports Film Festival is also producing an animated children’s book on Jake Burton Carpenter with a coloring page cover that readers can download and fill in. According to Merwin, people will be handing out those coloring pages on the mountain this week.

“I think the educational aspect is really important. … It's telling people’s stories and educating through this, and there's nothing — I don't think there's anything as powerful as a film to have people live through somebody else's shoes,” Merwin said.

A VIP fundraising party takes place from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday at The Sterling and the screening begins at 7:15 p.m. at the Isis Theatre.

Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.