Sunday, 6 April 2014

Banff Film Festival 2014

Once again that time of year has come around; the annual pilgrimage for the southern team, when we walk around the corner to Poole Lighthouse Theatre to witness what the Banff Mountain Film Festival has to offer this time around. Sitting in the sold out theatre we awaited this years films with the hope of coming away psyched for the next few months and with the determination to get those training plans back on track.

Firstly we were treat to The Sensei, which was first shown in the Reel Rock Film Tour last year. Some of us had watched this recently at home but as with all these climbing and adventure films, watching them on a big screen with a large audience, some of whom hadn’t had the pleasure of seeing it previously made it a totally different experience. The film is a great adventure climbing following Daniel Woods and Yuji Hirayama as they try some of the hardest routes of their lives. This is a great film with some great humor and great climbing set amongst an amazing backdrop.

Jumping off a cliff in a wingsuit and flying incredibly close to things – that is the second film, Split of a Second summed up in one sentence. This film takes a bit of a behind the scenes look at the wingsuit world, explaining that the flight itself its only about 1% of the experience. The noise from the audience shows an appreciation of the risk these guys take. However the crowd was decidedly split following this film, with some wanting to try it and half thinking these people are crazy.

Continuing the trend of introducing another sport, Kayaking was next on the menu with the short film of Beyond the Drop. Similar to Split of a Second this film shows that there is much more than just throwing yourself off waterfalls, showing that the whole experience is what these guys seek as well as those two seconds of free fall. This film is short but sweet, set in the blue waters of Agua Azul in Mexico. Needles to say this film made us ache for the summer.

Up next was the film that interested me the most. The festivals longest film at 45 minuets is titled North of the Sun, this film was the grand prize and peoples choice winner of this year’s festival. The film followed two friends, who completely secluded themselves from the modern world and drove to Norway with the intention of spending the winter skiing and surfing in the dark months with the goal in mind to clear their secret beach of rubbish. During this time they built their own home out of what they found on the beach and lived on out of date products that were free from local supermarkets. I wont give too much away but this film has great humor and an wonderful back drop, we were left in amazement at what these two people where able to achieve, they bring the light the damage humans are inflicting in the environment, even in places people rarely see, in a very unique way. This film is enlightening without being preachy. There is a lesson for every one in this flick. This was a favorite for us this year.

Break time. As with all the Banff Mountain Film Festivals there are a good selection of free giveaways. As with every other year we came home with a good selection of Cliff bars but nothing else, some great prizes given out by the sponsors during the break, unfortunately we didn’t manage to bring any home ourselves.

After the break we had a change of sport, yet again, to mountain biking. The film, Not Bad, documents seven bikers trip to New Zealand as they spent a month pushing their limits on the bikes. As with last years main mountain biking film, this years helping was produced by Anthill films, they guys provide epic scenery and a fantastic sound track that is enough to make anyone want to jump on their bike and have a go. This film features some quick biking along single tracks as well as some awesome dirt jumps to make for a great mix; this film however was only a short extract of a full-length film available on line.  

Almost at the end we had a short film which was the special jury mention named Keeper of the Mountain. This documents Elizabeth Hawley and how she ended up in Kathmandu chronicling the expeditions in the area for the Himalayan Database. She is 90 years old and challenges mountaineers regarding their ascents and even has her own idea of the best way to climb the mountains even though she has never been and has no intention to go there herself. She shows that everyone can enjoy the mountains in one way or another. This is a touching story of a woman’s own unique dedication to the mountains. 

Up next was Supervention (special edit). This documentary begins on a ski jump with a skier turning up with his twin tips, it is at this point that the modern twist is introduced and for the next 15minutes there is a group of skiers and snowboarders taking their sports up a level with tricks in an urban environment as well as fast paced off piste. Well worth a watch if snow sports are your thing, we will be checking out the full video over the coming few weeks.


Finally we had the 5-minute short mountain film winner called 35. This follows a climbing named Derek Craig as he approached his 35th birthday he makes the challenge to climb 35 pitches on his 35th birthday. This short but thought provoking film encourages the audience to celebrate the small parts of your life which make up the whole experience finishing with a great idea that you should aim to look back on your life thinking ‘damn that was awesome’. A great way to end the evening.

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