Mountain Lake

Banff Mountain Film Festival in Halifax

The 2010 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour came to Halifax, NS for two nights of the best in “adventure pornography” – Trail Shop Guy.

Mountain Lake
Pristine Mountain Lake

I took in both nights and each presented a wide array of films focusing on the enjoyment of the natural world. The first evening’s flicks featured a bunch of outdoor sports that I have no aspirations to ever undertake, including:

  • squeezing myself through claustrophobic caves where sometimes the only way to get through is “to exhale”, (Into Darkness)
  • plummeting off of waterfalls in a kayak, (Dream Result)
  • and free-basing, the combined sport of solo free climbing with base jumping, as if each weren’t dangerous enough on their own. (Fly or Die)

The main feature that night was Tibet: Murder in the Snow, a heavy story about the plight of a group of Tibetan refugees crossing the Himalayan mountains who came under assault-rifle fire from Chinese border patrol soldiers. The events were witnessed and recorded by a group of mountaineers situated at a base camp and the story follows the people who brought this atrocity to light. It left the audience in a pretty somber mood for the rest of the evening and served as another reminder of things I don’t want to try: escaping Chinese border guards.

Rocky Mountain River
A river in the Rocky Mountains

Night two offered even more outdoor sport goodness. They had the similar themed climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking flicks, but they seemed to present a more balanced view. The clips were a lot less about doing “gnarly” extreme things and more about enjoying the adventure.

My heart was actually pumping hard just watching Ueli Steck race up the north face of the Eiger in The Swiss Machine. His dedication to his sport and his attitudes towards life are as inspiring as the sweeping camera shots of the snow covered rock face.

I thoroughly enjoyed the film Still Motion, which was a collection of wildlife shots from motion activated cameras.

Life Cycles was the most beautiful of the Banff World Tour picks. The entire segment of cyclists jumping their bikes over fields of wheat with blue prairie skies in the background was jaw-dropping.

Life Cycles Prairie Jump

My favourite film of the whole festival was Crossing the Ditch. It was the feature length film of that night and told the story of the two young Aussies that decided to cross the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand in a kayak. The fact that neither of them really knew how to kayak and one of them suffered from wrenching sea sickness didn’t seem to deter them in the least. Their journey wasn’t just about making the crossing, but it was also the adventure they went through in their physical training, building their custom boat, and the mental preparation to complete such a voyage.

James and Justin: Crossing the Ditch

My buddy Rob declined my proposal to attempt a trans-Atlantic kayak crossing. Now I’m already looking forward to the 2011 Banff Film Fest.

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