Eighteen years of the Banff Mountain Film Festival

Charles Helm, Tumbler Ridge Global Geopark


On October 16 over 130 residents and a number of out-of-town visitors enjoyed the World Tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival. As in previous years, about twelve films were screened, taking armchair viewers to distant, spectacular places, and celebrating the achievements and passion of remarkable adventurers and film-makers. Waterfall kayaking, winter surfing above the Arctic Circle, young women performing amazing mountain climbs, a scientist descending a remote tropical canyon in order to find a rare frog, exhilarating skiing in BC’s mountains… these and more kept the audience riveted to their seats for almost three hours.

This is the eighteenth year in a row that the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society (WNMS) has hosted this event. (In the initial years the Northern lights College and Tumbler Ridge Community Arts Council were co-hosts.) Tumbler Ridge is the smallest community in the world to host the tour, and now also the last to screen the films. Soon the 2014 Mountain Film Festival begins in Banff.

Ticket prices ($10 per adult, and this year free entry for kids, thanks to another generous donation from the Lions Club) are also the lowest anywhere. WNMS knowingly runs this evening at a loss, using proceeds from the Emperor’s Challenge to make up the shortfall, believing that an event like this is good for the community and good for the soul.

Year after year the high school provides the gym as a venue free of charge, students help set out the chairs and operate the concession to raise funds for their projects, and WNMS volunteers run the show under the direction of the “road warrior” from Banff. Jerrilyn Schembri has set an amazing standard, welcoming the attendees and selling tickets for each one of these eighteen years!

Tumbler Ridge is now home to the second Global Geopark in North America. WNMS forms an essential anchor for this project. The Banff film evening fits in perfectly with this concept, as it aims to educate and entertain, inspiring a sense of wonder, cherishing magnificent geography and the effect it has had on special people around the world. In fact, when the Tumbler Ridge Aspiring Geopark submitted its proposal to UNESCO for Global Geopark status, this event was used as an example of what our community is about.

It is further testimony to the fact that for years we have already, perhaps unknowingly, been acting as a Geopark, and provides yet another reason why our proposal could be prepared, submitted and approved in the remarkably short period of time of twenty-three months. The Banff Mountain Film reconnects us with our precious earth heritage, and has now evolved from simply being a fun-filled evening into an important thread in our social and Global Geopark fabric.