Banff Mountain Film Fest entertains and amuses

Trent Ernst, Editor

 

For the seventeenth straight year, the Banff Mountain Film Festival made its annual trek to Tumbler Ridge.

Tumbler is the last stop on the tour, which started last November, shortly after the full festival ended and only a short time before this year’s festival kicks off on October 16.

This marks the eighth year in a row that the festival has been put on by the Wolverine and Nordic Mountain Society. Previously, the festival was put on by Northern Lights College and the Arts College.

130 people attended the screening in the high school gym. The strong attendance, says Charles Helm, will ensure that the festival returns next year.

This was the first outside event held in the high school gym of the year, and attendees discovered something the high schoolers have known for a few months: There is a new floor in the gym and outdoor footwear is not allowed. So people went stocking footed, brought slippers, or bought boot covers from the Junior Rangers.

There were nine films on this year’s tour, ranging from documentaries about the impact of wildlife corridors over and under the Trans Canada in Banff, and how that has cut down on wildlife related automobile accidents, to an epic 2200+ km hike to the South Pole. And back. Unsupported.

Productions ranged from well funded, multi-camera shoots with aerial footage to my favourite, On Thin Sea Ice 2, a two minute film about a Norwegian nutter who combines ice skating with (wait for it) swimming. Dude set up a single camera, then filmed himself skating to the edge of the sea ice wearing nothing but skates and his Fruit-of-the-Looms, then jumping in. That film was one of the most amusing, though lacking the gorgeous shots of a film like Flow Hunters, a Red Bull sponsored kayaking feature that was partially shot using a special mini-copter for some incredible overhead shots of kayakers in New Zealand.

Arguably the best film of the evening was Crossing the Ice, the story of two Australian friends with a penchant for adventure who decided to ski to the South Pole and back with no outside help, carrying everything they need to survive with them. They are delayed by bad weather, and are in serious peril a number of times throughout the trip, but they deal with nearly everything with good spirits and humour, and the adventure often takes a back seat to the characters.

The low point? For me it was Five Races, Five Continents. What should have been a perfect match for a trail running town like Tumbler was marred by an echo-y gym and thick accents, which made the audio nearly impenetrable in points. There were some gorgeous shots of people running up and over mountains (getting me jonesing for an Octacopter…), but too few of those and too many shots of people sitting around and talking. But that could just be me.

There were two absolutely beautiful movies. Moonwalk featured a single, realtime shot of someone tightrope walking between two rock pillars as the moon slowly rose behind. The second was Industrial Revolutions, a gorgeously shot mountain biking movie featuring incredible rider Danny Macaskill biking through a series of abandoned industrial sites in Scotland. Urban decay meets epic riding for one fine looking film.

But even the low points on the evening weren’t very low, and weren’t very long. Crossing the Ice was the longest, covering a 90 day trek in 44 minutes. All the others were less than 15, which meant the evening felt far shorter than the nearly three hours it lasted.

If you missed it, some of the films are available on-line. Visit www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfilmfestival/ and check out the films on the world tour.

Of the 28 films on tour, nine were shown here in Tumbler.