SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Todd Offenbacher is not holding back for the 16th annual Tahoe Adventure Film Festival.
The event director and host promised surprises and said entertainment is being "ramped up" this year and that the festival, Saturday, Dec. 8, at MontBleu Resort Casino and Spa, is "not to be missed."
At past festivals Offenbacher has used a wide variety of entertainment "to animate the room" between films including male break dancers, drag queens and a dwarf.
But the longtime South Lake Tahoe resident was raked over the coals by some after last year's event for his use of minimally clothed go-go dancers, saying that it represented the continued sexualization of women in the outdoor industry.
The condemnation came on the heels of the festival celebrating women in adventure sports, including awarding the event's top honor, the Golden Camalot award, to two-time South Shore Olympic gold medalist Jamie Anderson.
It was the first time in 15 festivals that a woman received the award.
"We heard the handful of people that spoke out last year," Offenbacher said. "What's interesting is the people who were outspoken weren't actually at the film festival. If you really care about people, your community and you care about the festival and want it to be successful, you have to listen to the positive and negative. So we definitely listened and what I can say is this year is not to be missed."
Offenbacher didn't want to give away the "shock value" of what he has planned, but he's not backing away from the first taste of adversity he's had since starting the festival.
He said last year's event was the most successful yet.
"There's 50 percent more go-go and we're ramping up the entertainment," Offenbacher said. "The whole idea of the entertainment is that it's a celebration. Anybody who has been there realizes this is a celebration, it's not a traditional film festival. The whole idea is to be quirky, tongue-in-cheek. We're talking about skiing, riding and climbing and those really don't change the world. The celebration and gathering is about the community and the unique culture we have in Tahoe. It's a night to come out and celebrate it."
Offenbacher said he was contacted by nearly all of his sponsors after last year and that they are all continuing their partnership, and signed on for Saturday's festival, including main sponsor Sierra-at-Tahoe. He said he actually has more sponsors.
The event this year will feature two films that nobody has ever seen and the Golden Camalot will be awarded to a longtime Lake Tahoe resident who did things on skis years ago that is extreme to this day.
TAFF organizers have spent hours and hours selecting and editing films to fit the festival's fast-paced format.
There will be 10-minute clips and the full-length films will be available to purchase.
TAFF this year has partnered with the Sierra Avalanche Center to host a raffle that incudes heli-ski trips and "enough gear and swag to stock any adventurer enthusiast's garage."
The doors to the annually sold out festival open at 6 p.m. followed by the films at 7:30.
Tickets can be purchased at the MontBleu ticket office by calling 775-588-3515 or going to MontBleuResort.com.
For information, and to find tickets, visit http://www.LakeTahoeFilmFestival.com.
"The festival has always been from my heart, from my soul, and anybody that knows me knows what the intention of the film festival is," Offenbacher said. "It's always evolving, just like me."