Maiza Lima immigrated from Brazil to the United States at the age of 16, in search of a better future. At the time, his family could not afford to buy clothes; his mother made them all by hand.
Now 34, she develops new athletic routes — she finds them, bolts them, cleans them and climbs them — near her home in Great Falls, Montana. But as a climber of color, Lima has been negatively impacted by discriminatory names in climbing.
In the summer of 2021, she climbed Ten Sleep, Wyo, a crag as famous for its limestone as it is infamous for its discriminatory route names (many of which have since been renamed). His experience is documented in the 13-minute film “What’s In A Name?”, which, in part, explores Lima’s response to redacted road names such as Happiness in Slavery.
“It’s just a little overwhelming right now,” she says quietly at the foot of the slavery wall. “I absolutely don’t want to be here or climb this road – or honestly climb anything on this wall. It’s just not welcoming and that’s not what it should feel like, especially in the world of climbing.
One of the reasons Lima sets routes is so she can name them whatever she wants. “I want to honor women, I want to honor immigrants…I want to honor people of color. Fundamentally change the climbing scene in that sense,” she says.
Back in Montana, Lima and her friends attempt a difficult route she has bolted, and after many attempts, Lima succeeds. “I named it American Dream,” she says. “It just represents everything I’ve been through and everything I want to experience. Sure it’s been a long journey, but I still think it’s just the beginning.
This film is also the debut of Jules Jimreivat, director and producer of “What’s In A Name?”, which premiered on REI’s YouTube channel in October. Jimreivat is a mountaineer, athlete and photographer/director, and this is her first professional film. “It’s a new era of storytelling that’s really exciting,” she told me. These kinds of stories have always existed, she explained, but since the recent social justice movement, brands are finally ready to invest the money to tell them.
“What really brought me to the movie…was bringing a woman of color to the forefront of action sports media,” Jimreivat said. “It was really, really important to me.”
Jimreivat’s father is Thai and his mother is white. She grew up in a diverse Washington DC neighborhood, where her skin was lighter than many in her community. She unconsciously carried this feeling of whiteness into adulthood, when she moved to Salt Lake City.
While working on the script for “What’s In A Name?”, a friend encouraged her to apply for a grant through the No Man’s Land Film Festival (NMLFF), which offered film scholarships to four women from color.
“But am I a woman of color? she thought. “I don’t know if that really matters to me.”
For Jimreivat, the work and production process of “What’s In A Name?” was identity. “I had to realize I was a woman of color because I had lived a very white life,” she said.
She applied for the grant but did not get it. Instead, Tara Kerzhner, one of the grant judges, told her the story was strong enough to receive commercial funding, which turned out to be true. Kerzhner became a mentor for Jimreivat.
It came full circle when Jimreivat hired Kerzhner as cinematographer for part of “What’s In A Name?”
This extraordinary film is just one of more than 50 to screen this weekend in Denver during the 7th Annual NMLFF Flagship.
What’s in a name when it comes to the festival? Well, No Man’s Land speaks for itself – 100% of the athletes featured identify as female, with 43% being women of color and 5% being LGBTQIA2S+.
“So many people feel the same way about gender equality and visibility, but hot topics and overused buzzwords turn people off,” said Kathy Karlo, the festival’s executive director. “The ethos of our event is to share personal stories of impact. I believe this is the most powerful method of opening up someone’s world.
Contact Chris Weidner at [email protected] Follow him on Instagram @christopherweidner and Twitter @cweidner8.
If you are going to:
WHAT: No Man’s Land Film Festival, which includes two film nights and 18 guest speakers. As the first all-female adventure film festival, the NMLFF has celebrated the full spectrum of women and gender-nonconforming athletes and adventurers by not defining the feminine in adventure, sports and film since 2015. .
WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday
OR: Denver Art Museum, 100 W. 14th Ave. Parkway
COST: $30 for Friday; $40 for Saturday
TICKETS: To visit filmfreeway.com/NoMansLandFilmFestival/tickets