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SVFF Opening Night: Rebecca Rusch's Road Back Home With Blood Road

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Blood Road director Nicholas Schrunk (left) and Rebecca Rusch (right) on the stage at the Sun Valley Opera House. - GEORGE PRENTICE
  • George Prentice
  • Blood Road director Nicholas Schrunk (left) and Rebecca Rusch (right) on the stage at the Sun Valley Opera House.
Not every movie world premiere features outfits ranging from party attire to denim, puffy down jackets, ball caps and toques. The sold-out crowd at a Wednesday night screening of Blood Road was a hodgepodge of Idahoans, award-winning filmmakers and a number of Wood River Valley firefighters and EMTs. Extreme athlete (and Ketchum firefighter/EMT) Rebecca Rusch wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

"I'm especially excited that we're premiering in front of my hometown," she told Boise Weekly.

Rusch is the subject of Blood Road, which chronicles her 1,400-mile journey across the Ho Chi Minh Trail (aka Blood Road) in Vietnam. Her physical accomplishment would have been enough to warrant a documentary film, but the world-class cyclist was also in search of the spot where here father was shot down during the Vietnam War in 1972, packing an extra emotional punch.

Rebecca Rusch - BLOOD ROAD / JOSH LETCHWORTH
  • Blood Road / Josh Letchworth
  • Rebecca Rusch
"I'm not nervous about tonight at all," she told BW just before the screening. "In fact, it's a relief to tell this story to the world. It may be the end of the road for me, but it's just starting for everybody else. It's the right place and the right time: It was 45 years ago this month that my father was shot down."

Moments later, film director Nicholas Schrunk climbed to the stage at the Sun Valley Opera House and introduced Rusch to the audience, which packed to standing-room capacity.

"It seems like only yesterday that Rebecca told me, 'I've got this story and I'm ready to tell it.' She was willing to be vulnerable and willing to share it with the world," Schrunk said.

At the conclusion of the film 90 minutes later, audience members jumped to their feet for a standing ovation. While some would-be attendees were turned away from the sold-out Wednesday screening, an encore presentation of Blood Road will take place Saturday, March 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Community School in Ketchum.

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