Banff ¿Mountain? Film Festival

  • Have any of you seen this year's selection of films from the Banff Mountain Film Festival?

    We attended the first night of the Festival on its Powell River stop last night. First-class venue (all 450 seats of which sold out long ago), loads of free food, strong sponsorship from local businesses, good bar... A night that would have been perfect if only there had been any films about mountains. Or climbing. Or anything that would have played at the Banff festival 25 years ago when I was involved in it. Well, maybe one of them would, but that's about it.

    Not that all the films were bad (although not all of them were good, either), just that I was baffled about why they would even be entered in a "mountain film" fest. Or rather, I was baffled until I spent some time reading the magazine that is handed out.

    It turns out that nowhere in any of their discussions about the films or the nature of the festival do they use the word "mountain." Except in the title. Yup, the official focus is on outdoor and environmental films.

    I'll report back after we see the second batch tonight.

  • David! It seems only right for you to present your credentials as a former editor of the CAJ & demand financial & emotional redress. Perhaps, if the second bath of films is equally disappointing? However, I don't recall ever attending a Banff Mountain Film Fest movie showing.

  • Okay, the second night was a bit better than the first, but it still leaves me wondering about the direction this once mountain-oriented festival has taken.

    More tomorrow.

  • we gave up after last year.. It used to be great but when they start showing me movies about over weight runners crying about being body shamed on social media I want my money back..

  • @NickG Nothing that bad on either night, but... Well, okay, I won't demand a refund, but I don't know if I'll bother next year.

    Regarding Night Two, the films were, overall, maybe a touch better than Night One, but again... Meh.

    Of the 21 films shown over the course of the two nights, only five had anything to do with mountains or climbing. And, of those, only two were of interest to anyone over the age of 30.

    Of the other three, one (Reel Rock 13) was about speed climbing in the 2020 Olympics. Okay, nothing wrong with speed climbing. I've even been the official timer when two of my friends vied for the fastest ascent of the purple route in our local gym. But "Speed Climbing", in the official sense, is something totally different. It is carried out, in whatever venue, in whatever year, on a route that was set 20 years ago, and which is replicated, down to the millimeter, and using holds certified as exact copies, whenever a comp is held.

    Another was about how a climbing gym in a poor district in Memphis had provided a safe space for local youth, and put them on a path to self respect. Not a bad short film, and, while not my cup of tea, maybe wasn't such a bad choice for the Banff Fest tour.

    The third was from Reel Rock 14. It was 18 minutes about how Nina Williams is better than you because she can solo highball boulders. Yes, strong climber, but... Meh.

    Of the non-climbing, non-mountain films, well, some of them were okay. I really liked "Life of Pie" and if I'm ever back in the Grand Junction area, I am definitely going to the Hot Tomato pizza joint. But most were nothing more than okay. Not bad, but not worth the time it took to watch them.

    The two good ones? First was "Myrtle Simpson: A Life on Ice". Don't know if you can find it on line, but that woman was totally badass. And, at 89, still is. The other was "Spectre Expedition". And that is easy to find online. Leo Houlding and two friends kite-skiing thousands of kilometers to climb Spectre Mountain in the Trans-Antarctic Range. Maybe not the best expedition film ever, but pretty good.

  • Several years ago I attended what was touted to be a Mountain Film festival (can't recall the exact title) in Mariposa, CA. It was nothing of the sort.

    Got there and picked up a program. Not a climbing or other outdoor activity film in the lot. They were mostly environmentally oriented with a smattering of humanitarian works. Stayed for a couple of films. They were both severely politically bent.

    Overall very disappointing.

  • Thanks for keeping us apprised

    Will likely never make it there myself

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