I had no idea what to expect when I headed into Capitol Theatre last night to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival. To be honest, up until a couple of hours before, my cycling-tuned brain had me thinking I was off to the Banff Mountain Bike Film Festival.
Despite not being all about bikes, I was nonetheless in for a treat. While it doesn't have something for everyone, it's appeal is certainly broader than your average sports documentary. To give you a taste, here's the trailer;
On show are eight films. Life Cycles (mountain biking) is filmed in stunning Ultra HD and portrays some beautiful riding in some equally beautiful locations. The images of two dirt jumpers emerging from wheat fields is particularly stunning.
Some of the films are outright scary. Namely, Dream Result (about guys who kayak off waterfalls), Into Darkness (about cavers who push through gaps so small I felt claustrophobic), and The Swiss Machine (about Ueli Steck, a guy who climbs huge cliffs...without ropes!) are outright scary. In no way did these films inspire me to try any of the sports. That said, they are inspiring.
Last Paradise tells the tale of a group of New Zealand lads who met in the 60s. Together, they had a hand in inventing numerous extreme sports, such as bungee-jumping, snowboarding and wakeboarding. A lot of the film is comprised of original footage from the glory days, which offers an incite into the carefree, crazy way that these guys lived. And even though I wasn't alive then, it was also a nostalgic hark back to a time when there really weren't any regulations and people did pretty much as they pleased, such as bungee jumping off the Eiffel Tower (although there were some consequences for that one).
Azadi: Freedom is just as much war documentary as it is a film about skiing. Skier Anthony Bonello explores the pistes of Kashmir, a country brought to its knees by war in the 90s and still trying to get to its feet now. The film is both moving and charming and despite admitting ongoing problems, portrays the country in a light that had at least me wanting to ski there.
And at the other end of the spectrum was Cross Country Snowboarding. Hilarious:
The festival is on every year. It might be too late to see it this year, but if you like the look of what you've seen here, keep an eye out for the festival next year.