Jumping For Joy

A review of 20 Seconds of Joy
playing at Northwest Film Forum
by Mykhanh P.

It takes a certain type of person to jump off a cliff, and a BASE jumper would definitely be considered one type. BASE jumping entails jumping off of a fixed object (a building, antenna, span or earth, according to the acronym) and free-falling hundreds to thousands of feet before releasing the parachute. It is possibly the most dangerous and fatal extreme sport there is. According to one BASE jumper, three things will happen if you BASE jump long enough: you will get hurt, you will watch people die jumping, and BASE jumping will eventually kill you as well.

So why would anyone willingly accept the possibility of death just for the thrill of jumping? 20 Seconds of Joy is a documentary about professional athlete Karina Hollekim. The title comes from Hollekim herself when she asks if it is really that important to jump off a cliff and get 20 seconds of joy. To answer these questions, Director Jens Hoffman takes viewers on a journey through five years of Hollekim’s BASE jumping career, delving into her life and trying to explain her yearning to continually be involved in increasingly risky situations. He does so brilliantly, presenting Hollekim as a complex person who is simply doing what she loves, but also recognizes the dangers of her job and the strain she places upon her loved ones. Her struggle to reconcile these two aspects is dealt with sympathetically and you find yourself admiring her and wishing her the best.

With gorgeous shots of breathtaking views, the documentary itself is pretty well made. Watching the jumps was a little suspenseful for me, knowing that I could be witnessing a person’s last moments and the mostly tasteful soundtrack built upon that suspense. There were times that I thought the music was too overpowering though. Some of the interviews were a little hard to understand due to the foreign accents of the interviewees and differences in the sound quality occasionally made sections sound awkward when they were spliced together. The timeline is also a little confusing because the film jumps around a lot; however, this is all minor. 20 Seconds of Joy lets you experience the sense of joy Hollekim receives from her life, yet it also left me pondering deeper subjects like life, death and fear.

You can see this filmn at the Northwest Film Forum, located in Capitol Hill
January 2nd thru the 8th.
visit www.nwfilmforum.org for information and show times
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