Life Cycle Project screens in Hollywood, CA on September 11th as one of “Four Exceptional Shorts” honored at Film Festival Flix. “Its surreal. And it’s a dream come true. … sharing my story with others in the hopes of inspiring, raising awareness and connecting. It’s wonderful to be acknowledged and to get the film out there” – Debora De Napoli
It’s become clear across the board that the voice of women in mountain and adventure film is missing. But it’s not just a voice, it’s more like a roar…
I realized that a we are missing the crazy-fierce determined stories of amazing amateur athletes, who aren’t sponsored, who perhaps delivers mail for Canada Post during the week and runs 300km unsupported through the desert of Utah of weekends? Or the voice of the 46 year old, mother of two, that declared that this is her year and embarked on the sufferfest of mountain biking 7 days in the back-country, in the epic BC Bike Race. Or the girl, who just for the fun of it decided to ride her uni-cycle through the mountains of Patagonia and now is heading to Morocco to do the same, because she can. (who does that???). What about documenting those stories?
So back in October 2013, after the Life Cycle Project’s world premier at the Banff Mountain Film Festival we decided that the ‘Project’ would essentially sponsor amateur athletes to embark on their own adventure, and hopefully we would have a webseries of more inspiring stories to share in the near future.
Well that near future seems like today, folks! In an effort to answer the question of “Where are the Women?” in mountain and adventure film, Life Cycle Project is getting dirty once again with the production of the webseries #WATW (“Where are the Women?”), and we couldn’t be more excited! BOOYA!
Check out the first episode later this fall:
2014 – | Web series | Where are the Women?| in production
Where are the Women? A web series aimed at raising the profile of women in mountain and adventure sport, and to support amateur athletes to embark on their own journey.
#WATW WEbisode 1| Koo-koo for Koko. Running the Kokopelli trail.
Tired of finishing in the bottom third, and often when the aid stations are packing in the tents and the food has run out, 45 year old Liz Decario sets off on her very own ultra marathon adventure; running 227km (142mi) through the desert between Moab, UT and Fruita, CO, with one lofty goal in sight. She dreams to not only finish the ultra marathon race, “The Sinister 7″, but to finish in the top 3rd. First she’ll have to make it out of the Kokopelli alive.
Meet my Dad, Francesco. I am so happy to have him as my ‘Wing-man’ today as I will be speaking on the genetics panel at the Survivor Workshop for Ovarian Cancer Canada at the Canadian Conference on Ovarian Cancer Research.
As most of you know, our lives were flipped upside-down, just six years ago, when the words ovarian cancer came into our vocabulary. We now know so much more about ovarian cancer and I’m really honored to be able to share my experience and be part of such a great workshop. #knowledgeISpower #OvarianCancerCanada #Makingthebestoutofashittysituation #foryouMOM
Thank you for all your love, encouragement and support throughout these challenging years. Much love, Debora <3
When I created Life Cycle I wanted to focus on raising awareness of ovarian cancer and I also wanted the project to support (and encourage) amateur athletes, like myself, to embark on their own healing journey and adventure, what ever that is for them. As this initiative developed, the question of “Where are the Women?” kept coming up and a few weeks after I presented on this very topic, at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival this past February, something interesting started to happen…
In person and in emails, people who were inspired, and in particular women (high-fives!), were declaring to me that they now were acting on their own dreams and ambitions. (yes!!)
Either something in my story, or about me, or my determination, or perhaps something that moved them in the film…?? …What ever that ‘thing‘ is, I couldn’t be more blessed to know that other people are also getting something out of Life Cycle too! It goes to show that though we never really truly know what the plan is, that we are contributing in someway, is sometimes all that matters.
I am reminded of the Jivamukti Yoga teachings: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.
…Stay tuned to hear of some exciting stories and projects on the horizon that have been born from the “Where are the Women?” initiative.
My top 5
4 – …when you begin to play BIG in life you’re going to get freaked out, you’re going to want to quit when you push yourself. This is normal. For me, success was being accountable to my word and I told everyone I knew what I was up to.
3 - Don’t do it unless it’s coming from your heart. And always, always speak from that place.
As my fellow FEAT speaker, Alicia says “Adventure accepts everyone”.
1 - When you let go of expectations and be open to the journey, no mater what that journey is, you’ll get something far greater than you expected.
What are some of your Top 5’s??
“I started realizing that there was a story here, a real story, and that I would have to let people in. I’d have to be vulnerable to be able to connect and make a real difference. I would have to speak from that deep place. It was very different from what I originally imagined, and it was all unfolding, and it was very beautiful.” – Debora De Napoli | Life Cycle Project
Erin Mcphee / North Shore News March 2, 2014
FEAT Canada, Friday, March 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Vancouver’s Rio Theatre. $20. featcanada.ca
When Debora De Napoli learned she could carry the ovarian cancer gene mutation that took the life of her mother, rather than wallow in the possibility while waiting for the results of medical testing, she decided to take action.
The 41-year-old Vancouver resident set off on a life-changing physical and emotional journey, setting a goal of completing nine summits across the Canadian Rockies on her mountain bike, as well as launched a charity, Life Cycle, intended to raise funds and awareness related to ovarian cancer.
“I couldn’t sit still,” says De Napoli. “I thought if I got out there and I challenged myself to something way bigger than me. .. it would be good for me too, it would be a healthy way of dealing with grief and processing that stuff,” she says.
De Napoli chronicled her experiences on film and produced a documentary, entitled Life Cycle Project, that premiered at the Banff Mountain Film Festival this fall. The work, her debut film, was also screened at the recent Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
De Napoli is among the nine local speakers set to share their stories at FEAT Canada (Fascinating Expedition and Adventure Talks), a fast-paced, Pecha Kucha-style event, organized by Sean Verret that’s being held Friday, March 7 at The Rio Theatre. In addition to De Napoli, this year’s edition will feature presentations by Adam Campbell, Alicia Woodside, Denis Barnett, Norm Hann, Ryan Robertson, Sarah Hart, Tiffany Melius and Tobin Seagel, with each presenter given seven minutes at the mike. Adventure disciplines explored include ultramarathoning, extreme backcountry skiing, standup paddle boarding, cycling, sailing and climbing. The MC for the night will be international adventurer Kevin Vallely, a North Shore News columnist.
In addition to her mother, who passed away five years ago at age 67, De Napoli has lost five other family members as a result of the mutation, and her sister is a carrier, adding further motivation.
She encountered a number of bumps along the way, including a serious knee injury on Mount Seymour, requiring rescue by seven firemen, six weeks prior to her departure.
Nonetheless, she completed the series of summits over a two-week period in summer 2012.
“Being a first-time filmmaker and not just the project itself but also the ride and the things that happened along the way, all those speed bumps… it was really challenging. But the challenging parts I think were the good parts because they allowed me to reach out to people who I wouldn’t have otherwise known, asking for help,” she says.
Having some experience as a recreational mountain biker, De Napoli, a selfdescribed “cubicle dweller,” worked to hone her skills through the North Shore’s Endless Biking Enduro XC Training Program, under the tutelage of Andreas Hestler and Cynthia Young. As well, she sought help from film industry professionals who were generous with their expertise due to the advocacy nature of the project.
De Napoli is looking forward to FEAT Canada and the opportunity to share her story of personal empowerment, which she hopes provides a unique and strong voice for women within the adventure film genre.
“I came to the conclusion that no matter what my results would be of the genetic testing, that I would be OK, no matter what,” she says.
For information on upcoming screenings of Life Cycle Project, visit deboralifecycle.wordpress.com.
© North Shore News
FEATCanada: Debora De Napoli
It seems these days that everyone has been affected by cancer in some way or another. For Deborah De Napoli, the problem is closer to home: a rare genetic mutation that makes her susceptible to ovarian cancer – the same type that claimed her mother. Rather than sit around and see what happened, Debora chose to challenge herself beyond anything she’d done before and in the process raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Debora founded the charity Life Cycle and produced a short documentary film called Life Cycle Project; which documents her personal journey from cubicle-dweller to mountain warrior as she mountain bikes up (and down!) nine harrowing summits across the Canadian Rockies. A first time filmmaker, she received a full-time scholarship to the Banff Adventure Filmmaker’s Workshop, and was selected as a finalist for the Banff Mountain Film Festival. You could say she has a natural talent.
Describe your 7 minutes onstage in 25 words or less.
I am thoroughly excited to share, to touch and I hope to inspire. I’m also nervous that I’ll do a face-plant, living up to my nick name “Crash”.
The motto: No Mountain is Bigger Than Life… That’s truly inspirational stuff. Can you elaborate?
Being a first-time filmmaker and having only ever biked recreationally, I was faced with many challenges. This included recovering from a serious knee injury just six weeks prior to the Life Cycle journey send-off. However, nothing could begin to compare to the challenges one would face if diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In reflecting on this, I realized that “no mountain is bigger than life”, and once I fully committed that motto to mind, I chose to persevere, no matter what.
Which of your 9 summits did you enjoy? For whatever reason – fun, the challenge, or perhaps a particular moment during the journey.
Ever since I began mountain biking I’ve always wanted to ride the Keystone Standard Basin in Revelstoke. Though not really a ‘Summit’ per se. Being a scaredy-cat and not wanting to do it alone, I swear I’ve asked everyone around me to make this trip with me. I was told it was too epic (for me). I realized my fear of going at it alone was denying my ability to experience this ride. Being a “bad ass” (obviously) I wanted to make sure this trail was was on the Life Cycle map! Keystone Standard Basin is a 28 km return trail (from the trail-head) with an 800 meter elevation, and a 2,000m summit. It was absolutely beautiful! Subalpine meadows, incredible single track, snow crossings, exposure, glorious peaks as far as the eye can see; everything I imagined it to be.
LifeCycle Project is your first venture into filmmaking. Has the movie bug bitten you? Do you have anything in your mind for a follow-up movie?
Indeed! Life Cycle Project is a personal story and journey and though I went on an “adventure” it’s truly more of a passion film. Now that I have a better sense of what i’m doing I can steer more towards adventure filmmaking and heed to the call of “Where Are The Women?” in adventure films. I’ve been doing lots of collaborating on ideas and hope to have something in the works soon. The timing is perfect to be a female adventure filmmaker and I’m so happy to have a successful first film to my credit… Never a dull day!
FEATCanada takes place at the RIO Theatre, on Commercial and Broadway, March 7th. Tickets to the event can be purchased right here.
On Friday, Feb 14th I delivered a presentation at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival. I was the speaker for the evening to a sold out crowd of 700 rowdy and awesome outdoor and armchair adventurers. In my talk, titled “Where Are The Women?” in adventure film, I shared my personal story about how I went from cubicle-dweller to mountain warrior, highlighting my Life Cycle journey and the challenges faced in being a first-time filmmaker.
I know that sharing is far more important that my nerves, so I got out there and trusted that weeks of thoughtful preparation would pay off. And it did. I was living my speech and I knew, in my heart, that if I spoke from that place, it would mean something to someone out there. At an outdoor adventure show I didn’t know if bringing up cancer would be received well, but I didn’t care when I was on stage. I figured, this is part of my journey and if it’s the least exciting part of the presentation, then so be it; someone out there would be able to relate, I’m sure. And then it happened…
A succession of slides came up that led into the conversation about my real reasons for creating Life Cycle. First, a picture of my Mom and me outside her palliative care building a the Grey Nuns Hospital in Edmonton (it would be our very last picture together), and, second, a slide that also explained that “70% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die within 5 years”…I had just explained to the audience that I created the project when I learned it was genetic. Time stood still for a moment as I looked at the picture of my Mother and I. I froze, fighting back tears.
The audience began cheering and applauding, supporting and being there with me. It was incredibly powerful and I was (and still am!) touched and moved by their outpour of love. In that moment, we all connected. A room of 700 strangers connected. Powerful, powerful stuff.
I realized that, although the content of my speech was interesting or engaging, it wasn’t the content that people were really interested in; it’s the human connection. It’s in that moment of sharing myself with words from my heart, and being brave enough to be vulnerable, that people would feel moved.
So, if you have something to share, speak from your heart and do it for them. It’s not about you. Trust me… it’s worth overcoming all the nerves in the world.