The North Face Premieres ‘Descendance’ Documentary at Intimate London Screening

With a supporting photo exhibition and outdoors-focused panel discussion.

Events 
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After two years in the making, The North Face’s high-anticipated documentary Descendance premiered in London last week. Hosted in partnership with Hypebeast, the intimate screening was organized into a 360° showcase, immersing fans in the world of documentary star and freeskier Dennis Ranalter with an accompanying photo exhibition and panel talk.

The documentary follows Ranalter on a journey of self-discovery where he unpicks his life as a skier in the Austrian mountains. After reflecting on the predominantly white ski community and his place within it, he embarks on a mission to discover his roots and reconnect with his family in Ghana.

The premiere kicked off on a Wednesday evening in the heart of East London. After grabbing a range of beverages from drinks supplier Brixton Brewery, guests had the chance to explore a photo exhibition in the main hall before the screening. The display highlighted behind the scenes moments of the documentary, curated in order of the production – from Austria to the skier’s travels in Ghana. Heartwarming visuals of Ranalter meeting his wider family were placed alongside action shots on the slopes that provided a snapshot of what to expect from the film.

“Films like this allow younger people to see more diversity in the outdoors and understand what is possible.”

Following the screening of the documentary, Peigh Asante – founder of Swim Dem Crew and the host for the evening – welcomed the skier along with executive producer Phil Young as well as Peaks of Colour founder Evie Muir and Athene Club’s Zaineb Abelque to the stage for a panel discussion. “To grow up in a place like Stubaital in Austria is difficult as a Black man and to expose this on film is even more difficult,” said Young to open the panel. “However, films like this allow younger people to see more diversity in the outdoors and understand what is possible.”

As well as reflecting on the documentary, the panelists shared their experiences of the outdoors and how they are carving out a space for all to enjoy nature. Muir used the discussion as a way to shed light on how her local green spaces are a place of “healing and therapy” which she tries to deliver to other POC around the Peak District through guided hikes. Ranlater added to her sentiment, sharing, “Don’t let anybody’s ignorant opinion stop you from exploring the outdoors, believe in yourself and your ability to break the mold.”

“Local initiatives can help make facilities more accessible by creating more inclusive spaces that reflect the diversity of the nation.”

After the panel, Hypebeast caught up with Abelque and Asante to find out more about the work they do through their individual collectives. “Athene club opens up a space for people to take their first steps together, re-educating and engaging with the UK’s climate to make it easier for us to live a lifestyle that’s already part of our DNA,” said Alebque. When asked about what can be done to bring her experiences to others, she shares, “It’s vital to remember that the biggest entry point is having the financial means to purchase appropriate gear, so seeding products help prepare everyone to venture out onto their personal journeys.”

Through the lens of swimming, Asante’s aim is to remove any daunting associations with water for both youths and adults in the city. “There were a wide range of boundaries that prevented us from getting involved in swimming, everything from skin/hair aftercare and socioeconomic issues to body dysmorphia, the list goes on,” he explains. But the solution to get more people swimming is simple “Local initiatives can help make facilities more accessible by creating more inclusive spaces that reflect the diversity of the nation.”

To find out more about Dennis Ranalter and his skiing journey, read the exclusive interview on Hypebeast. Discover the latest from The North Face on its website now.

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