Divya Gordon, filmmaker: Conquering mountains

Adventure filmmaker Divya Gordon’s latest film Maven, set in the Snowy Mountains, brings a feminine perspective to backcountry experiences

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With the snow season just round the corner, Divya Gordon, a self-taught filmmaker from the Snowy Mountains of Australia is ready with her latest film Maven – a short documentary about exploring the backcountry from a woman’s perspective.

Premiering on 11 April at the Arc’teryx Winter Film Tour at the Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace theatre in Cremorne NSW, the film celebrates a group of female adventurers who call the Snowy Mountains home. Their journeys start haphazardly, often departing late and arriving in the dark, leading them to unforeseen challenges and discoveries. Besides exploring the stunning backcountry, the film is a deeper exploration of resilience, community, and environmental awareness.

A scene from Divya Gordon’s Maven (Source: Supplied)

The film will be touring with ski and snowboarding filmmaker Warren Miller’s 75th anniversary movie All Time, alongside fellow local short film Covergence.

See other screening locations around Australia here.

“Where the boundaries of the popular snow-resorts end, is where the backcountry begins,” Gordon explains, talking to Indian Link from her newly constructed home in the Snowys, which she is busy painting herself before peak-season kicks in.

“There is so much more to the ‘Australian Alps’ and the Kosciuszko National Park.”

Divya studied Economics and started out in the corporate boardrooms in Sydney. After a short stint, she followed it up with some social work but realised soon enough that she was seeking a more creative life. Leaving her corporate roots behind, she embraced a nomadic lifestyle in her van, growing her connection with adventure communities while pursuing her passion for filmmaking.

After testing the waters with a fellow filmmaker friend, Divya’s first major film in the adventure documentary realm, Seven 7 Seven (2022) featuring the then longest highline rigged in Australia, garnered success at prestigious film festivals Vertical Life Film Tour 3 (VLFT3) and Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival (VIMFF). The film also made it into Stockholm City Film Festival and Goatfest.

She followed it up in 2023 with the yet-to-be-released Steady, which features Gabriel Camolesi as he breaks the world record for the longest distance unicycled on a highline.

With Maven, Divya Gordon has managed to bring together her two loves – filmmaking and the snow. “Skiing is my first love, and ever since I moved to the Snowy Mountains, I wanted to make a film about this beautiful place,” she says.

Divya Gordon filmmaker
A feminine perspective to the mountains (Source: Supplied)

The documentary was shot in August last year in partnership with Nikon and Arc’teryx, among others. It follows a local outdoor guide, Francesca Smee, on her adventures in the rough and rugged landscape of the Kosciuszko National Park. “One expects a lot of masculine energy in this space, and my aim was to show that it can be done differently, and with a feminine perspective. There are so many wonderful women out here doing such cool things and setting an example,” she explains.

She did have an all-men crew who helped her through the filming, though. “It’s difficult to find the right combination of skills that we needed for this film. There are women out there, but I just couldn’t find them in time. I felt extremely supported and encouraged from my crew throughout the process,” she says.

Describing the challenges of making the film, the adventure filmmaker says, “There was a lot of walking involved, that too with all the gear and filming equipment. Cameras and batteries behave differently in the cold climate. But the challenge is what makes it fun.”

“Ever since I moved to the Snowy Mountains, I wanted to make a film about this beautiful place.” (Source: Supplied)

With the direct translation of Maven meaning ‘one who is experienced or knowledgeable’ or ‘one who understands’, Divya’s film aims to leave its audience with a greater understanding of – and an invitation to engage with – the natural world as well as each other, and to discover the untold stories and unexplored paths of the Australian backcountry.

Divya Gordon, filmmaker, meanwhile is already giving final touches to her next film Uncharted (2024), set in Tasmania, where she sails to the remote islands in the Bass Strait to shoot daredevils who climb previously unclimbed routes.

Clearly, there is nothing stopping this thrillseeker.

Of female adventurers (Source: Supplied)

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