The Knockturnal was on the scene for the documentary screening of “Meru”
Meru is an inspiring documentary film following three mountain climbers Jimmy Chin, Conrad Aker, and Renan Ozturk and their heroic journey to climb the never-before-tackled “Mount Meru.” The climbers face many tragedies throughout their story, such as the death of Conrad’s best friend, Renan’s skull injury, and Jimmy being sucked into an avalanche. With blood, sweat, tears, and dedication, the climbers make it to the top of Meru. Meru is a truly empowering film that encourages viewers to never stop pursuing a dream, no matter how big or bold.
The after party was held at the upscale “Explorers Club” located on 70th street and Park Ave in New York City. A delicious pasta and salad dinner was served, as were drinks. Some of the film’s creative master minds were in attendance, such as producers Elizabeth Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
We spoke with Jon Krakauer exclusively at the after-party. Read our interview below:
Q: What is exciting about having this film hit theaters and come to life for you?
A: More than any climbing movie that I know about, it explains climbing in a nuanced, truthful, authentic way; it’s complexities, what’s good about it, what’s bad about it, it doesn’t sugarcoat anything. It’s just a really honest film. There is this big Everest movie coming out and I am really glad that this movie is coming out around the same time because the Everest – I haven’t seen it, I have only seen the trailers, but it’s just all hype like Sharknado and it might be a great movie, I hope so, but it’s not going to be an accurate portrayal of climbing because climbing isn’t about Everest. Everest has become this magnet for people who want just another notch in their belt. Climbing is about this kind of peak. You might even fail but it is more important for the experience and so I am really proud to be involved in this movie; I hope a lot of people see it. You know, most people aren’t very interested in climbing but this movie to me is more than a climbing movie, it has some deeper things going on.
Q: And in the beginning you mentioned that you climb so can you talk about what the experience is like for you and what it is like to climb in today’s world?
A: I still climb. And I am 61 and I have no desire to climb Everest again but I still climb two or three times a week and I love it. I live in Colorado. A lot of this movie is filmed in Colorado like where Renan is recovering from his accident and that’s all shot in Colorado. And that’s right above where I live so I can go climbing like people play tennis; I go two or three times a week before work and climbing is important to me. I grew up and the most important force that shaped my life was climbing. I started climbing when I was 8 and for many years it was all I cared about and it still is something I do instead of psychotherapy. It’s an important thing to me and so it sort of pains me when climbing is portrayed in ways where it is for attention. The appeal of the risk is complicated and strong and shapes it in a way where people don’t understand the true nature of it. And this movie, better than any movie I can think of, hints at why people do it despite the pain that it causes.
Q: And what kind of workouts do you need to do to stay in shape and be able to climb, because the workouts Renan did when he was recovering were so intense?
A: Well, he was coming back from being a near paraplegic so he was training especially intensely. But, for a climb like that, it is as physically demanding as everything and I just climb a lot and I go to climbing gyms but I’m not that fit and I don’t have to be that fit.
Q: And this film is so great and so interesting and informational but after the credits were rolling I was even more scared to climb things than before so can you speak about your thoughts on that?
A: Well, climbing is scary. Many climbers, myself included, are basically afraid of heights. One way to deal with your fear, the things that scare you the most, is to run away from them, and another thing is to confront them. I have learned how to control – the thing about climbing is that you are most likely to fall when you get scared and start to panic, so you have to learnt to control your fear and I have learned to do that and it a really good thing to know how to do. By breathing and just mind control, that’s all part of the appeal to it. It’s just a great — being out in the mountains is so great and I get bored working out, I don’t go to gyms, but I like physical activity and I like doing it in the mountains. That’s my release being out in the mountains.
The film opens August 14, 2015.
Vinesh Vora contributed reporting.