Yes, you read that correctly…wait, you didn’t think I meant you could actually go to Banff for those prices, did you?!?
That might be tough, but how about if I bring Banff to you?
As for many skiers and snowboarders, the name Warren Miller has been synonymous with the annual film tours.
These depict well tanned, buff, 20 & 30-somethings doing it – not always in style – on steep snow-covered slopes, with an occasional stairway railing or rooftop thrown in for good measure.
I thoroughly enjoy these snow-based action movies, which often includes a little dry humor, but the theme is predictably based.
Must…have…more…adrenaline based activities.
Until a few years ago I had never heard of the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival, which to my surprise comes every year to visit me, or least to a nearby movie screen.
The charming, young Canadian woman–eh– who brought us the current year’s crop of action movies, intro’ ed the sold-out, two day event, by informing us that this all started about 32 years ago with climbing videos in a small Banff theater that seated a mere 250 people, but three times that showed up.
They figured they might just have something there.
In addition to the film showings there is a photography competition (which included the two in this post).
Now, after the week long festival, which is attended of upwards of 12,000 people, they load up the film reels (or maybe, nowadays, the digital versions) of only a small selection of the roughly 300 submitted videos and hit the road for the better part of the year. They estimate that 200,000 people will view the films in about 30 countries.
(Editors note of clarification: not all of the viewers will view the viewings in all 30 countries).
Although extreme sports–or at least sports done extremely–are a common theme of many of the videos, many are wonderful human interest stories or well made slower paced documentaries.
Just to mention a few of this years selections:
Searching for the Coast Wolves–which included some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable.
20 Seconds of Joy–a frightening look (at least for a wimp like me) at the world of base-jumping, including those crazy winged outfits.
Ain’t Got No Friends on a Powder Day–which I thought should win just based on a cool name.
Other films covered wide-ranging activities such as: snow kiting (think snowboarding meets kites sailing); mountain and unicycle biking (in places you don’t see everyday); kayaking (think slickrock climbing locales); rock climbing (a local favorite topic as the local host is the rock climbing place in town);
And too many others to mention (translation: I can’t read the notes I took in the dark).
The individual showings last from a few minutes to almost an hour long.
The athletic, enthusiastic crowd, which not surprisingly, consists primarily of the same age demographic I mentioned above in reference to the Warren Miller films, is replete in cargo shorts, Teva sandals, knit caps, and Nalgene bottles of water (?).
Generally, a good time is to be had by all.
There is no doubt that the two evenings of films are well worth the ten bucks per night.
And if you are lucky, maybe you will walk away with one of the raffle prizes donated by the Banff folks and the local sponsor.
If you want to be the first on your block to see the next crop of films, this whole process starts over again in Banff from November 1-9.
But depending where you live and if you wish to travel some, yourself, there are still showings this year.
And finally, as an old fuddy-duddy father I am obliged to close by saying,
Now children…don’t try this at home. (Or at least wear a helmet.)