Tackling issues of body image: ‘This is Beth’ film part of LUNAFEST

Beth Rodden climbing in Yosemite filming,“This is Beth” | LUNAFEST

UPDATE March 13, 2023: The LUNAFEST scheduled for March 16 has been rescheduled for April 27 at 8 p.m.

LUNAFEST, the traveling festival of short films made by women, will appear at the Tahoe Art Haus & Cinema in Tahoe City on April 27. The festival includes the film “This is Beth,” produced by South Lake Tahoe-based filmmaker Sarah Steele about South Tahoe rock climber Beth Rodden and her struggles with body image.

The festival is a fundraiser for Girls on the Run Sierras, featuring seven films about a range of topics. Steele is a filmmaker who has focused on media that empowers new and underrepresented voices. She is a climber and follows the social media of world renowned climber Rodden.

“I saw Beth posting on Instagram about body image and how she wanted to stop having so much pressure for her body to look a certain way,” said Steele.

Steele was intrigued and felt this was a story that needed to be told. If Rodden, one of the best climbing athletes in the world, is concerned about her body image, what does that mean for other athletes?

“This story is like oxygen to the climbing community. I run a small all-woman production company and asked Beth to do her story. She agreed, if we could get it out to where younger climbers would see it,” said Steele.

“This story is like oxygen to the climbing community. I run a small all-woman production company and asked Beth [Rodden] to do her story. She agreed if we could get it out to where younger climbers would see it.”     –Sarah Steele

“I agreed because I knew if I had seen a film like this at so many different points in my life it would have had an impact on me,” said Rodden. “Now being a mother, I see how important it is to try and have authentic, real voices. And so, I thought that if making this film had even just a small impact on one person, it would be worth it. I love the climbing community, it has given me so much, but it’s not without room for improvement and I think body image and mental health are two very important areas where we need more voices.”

Rodden and the crew spent a week in Yosemite filming during the height of Covid, which had its challenges, but also left the park less crowded than it normally would have been.

“Working with the all-female crew allowed Beth to open up. We tried to focus on the inner body and body image in the film,” said Steele, but realized that even though Rodden is one of the top climbers in history, she is now a mother in her 40s and younger climbers might not know her, so the film also includes beautiful images of some of Rodden’s most famous climbs. It is both a heartwarming story about coming to terms with one’s body and an inspiring exploration into the world of rock climbing.

Watch the trailer at TheTahoeWeekly.com

“The conversations we had about body image resonated so much with everyone,” Steele said. “Body image is not just a female issue, it affects everyone.”

And it especially impacts top athletes who are competitive and determined to do their best.

The goal of the film is to pass on the lesson “that a soft body can be a climber body, you don’t need to look a certain way to be a climber. She is one of the world’s most accomplished rock climbers who had this toxic inner dialog, and she broke free of that,” said Steele, who will be at the showing to discuss the film.

Girls on the Run Sierras is a nonprofit program that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident. GOTR Sierras has been part of the Tahoe-Reno region since 2007, giving around 5,000 girls the opportunity to gather every spring and fall to have fun while working on life skills such as confidence and humility while staying active.

“We are so thrilled to have Sarah Steele, the producer of the film “This is Beth” with us for LUNAFEST. Similar to our Girls on the Run program, this film explores body image, cultivating confidence and how the path to nurturing our whole self starts from within. It’s exciting that out of all the films submitted to LUNAFEST, this film from two amazing women from South Lake Tahoe was chosen,” said GOTR Sierras executive director Joy Heuer. | tahoearthauscinema.com, lunafest.org