Docutah prescreenings will highlight BASE jumping legend

A still from the documentary film "Sunshine Superman" features the "father of BASE jumping," Carl Boenish, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Docutah@TheElectric, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Before there were selfies and GoPro cameras, Carl Boenish, the father of the sport known as BASE jumping – an acronym for leaping from a building, antenna, span or Earth – was obsessed with chronicling “what one saw from starting way up and shooting straight down” through 16 mm camera footage. Now audiences have an opportunity to experience a heart-racing portrait of the man and his footage through the documentary film “Sunshine Superman” to be shown in St. George and Springdale at the turn of the month as part of this year’s Docutah International Documentary Film Festival prescreenings.

Docutah@TheElectric will show Sunshine Superman at the Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle St., St. George, on March 31 and again at the Bumbleberry Theater, 97 Bumbleberry Lane, Springdale, on April 1. Both screenings will run at 7 p.m., hosted by film director and writer Marah Strauch. Reservations are required because of limited space at each theater and may be made online.

A still from the documentary film “Sunshine Superman” features the “father of BASE jumping,” Carl Boenish, location and date not specified | Photo courtesy of Docutah@TheElectric, St. George News

A qualified electrical engineer, Boenish drifted from his career after he was given the opportunity to direct aerial photography on “The Gypsy Moths,” a 1969 Burt Lancaster skydiving movie. This kindled a new passion and soon Boenish would be doing everything with an unwieldy 16 mm camera strapped to his helmet, decades before anyone thought of a GoPro. 

According to Docutah’s news release, viewers of Sunshine Superman will experience Boenish’s jaw-dropping journey in life and love to the pinnacle of his achievements when he and wife Jean broke the BASE jumping Guinness World Record in 1984 on the Norwegian ‘Troll Wall’ mountain range.

Told through a stunning mix of Carl Boenish’s 16 mm archive footage, well-crafted re-enactments and state-of-the-art aerial photography, Sunshine Superman promises to leave its audience breathless and inspired, the news release states.

In an interview reported by The Guardian, Strauch said she was only able to make the film because of Boenish’s obsession with filming every jump he made. When she found some of his footage among the belongings of her late uncle, himself a skydiver, she was instantly fascinated.

“I hadn’t seen any other footage like this,” Strauch said. “I was a visual artist transitioning into making films, and Carl’s footage was really different to what I had seen before. This was beautiful 16 mm footage, and these people wanted to show a point of view that other people don’t see. I loved the poetry of what Carl Boenish was showing. It was romantic.”

“Films such as ‘Sunshine Superman’ demonstrate to audiences that real-life adventure is much more heart pounding, much more exciting than fictional adventure films or video games,” said Phil Tuckett, executive director of the Docutah enterprises. “The lineup for the remainder of the year through August touches on subjects both foreign and domestic but all of which reveal common human conditions and emotions. So far the reception we have received in this second season of Docutah@TheElectric, which leads up to the Docutah International Documentary Film Festival each year in September, lets us know that our audience agrees.”

Event details

  • What: Docutah@TheElectric screens “Sunshine Superman.
  • When: Friday, March 31 in St. George; Saturday, April 1, in Springdale; both screenings at 7 p.m.
  • Where: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle, St. George, and Bumbleberry Theater, 97 Bumbleberry Lane, Springdale.
  • Cost: $10.
  • Additional Information: Advanced reservations are required and can be made online.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

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