Film & TV

Taking cinema to the outdoor extreme

Courtesy of Banff Centre

The Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to Eugene for two nights on April 22 and 23 at 7 p.m. to showcase some extreme mountain
documentaries and films .

The festival aims to highlight topics surrounding what the Banff Centre terms “mountain culture,” such as environmental awareness and sustainability. However serious as these issues and adventures might seem, many of the films feature a comedic and lighthearted
element amidst their intensity.    

The films, which were initially judged and chosen in early November of last year, have been touring the globe with the film festival since to promote the festival’s winners. Organizers have also been working with local curators to tailor the festival to local interests. Judging was based on several criteria, including editing, narration, lighting, sound, cinematography and entertainment value. Films were entered into one of four categories: climbing, mountain sport, mountain environment, and mountain culture.

There was also a category for best short film. From downhill mountain biking to free solo rock climbing, the films all aim to glorify the mountain lifestyle and the many ways that people express themselves through the mountain.   

Charla Tomlinson, the tour manager, said mountain culture is something that many people living in the Northwest have a hard time appreciating.

“The mountains are very powerful, spiritual, mystical, and magical — more so than any other landscape, it would seem. I’m not sure we would have been as successful hosting the ‘Prairies World Tour,'” said Tomlinson, who has lived in mountain climates all her life.

Film selections for the Eugene showings vary in their content and the activities portrayed in them, but all bare in mind the interests of Eugeneans.

“We know that our Eugene audience responds well to river, cultural, environmental, climbing, and snow films — so when a film fits these areas and has good feedback from the tour, we will most likely select it,” said Suzanne Hanlon, the University’s Outdoor Program assistant director and local coordinator for the film festival.

The films featured at the Eugene screening include Kranked — Revolve, which won the Radical Reels People’s Choice Award at the Banff. The film, part of Bjorn Enga’s freeride mountain bike series, features trail riding, dirt jumping, and other styles, was filmed in locations from British Columbia to South Africa and everywhere mountainous in between. The acrobatics that veteran riders like Lance McDermott, and even youngsters like Garett Buehler, bring to the film are jaw dropping.

The film festival’s grand prize winner, Finding Farley, will be featured in the first Eugene showing. Although the film is milder in relation to other films, it tackles a completely different side of mountain and outdoor life. The film chronicles the husband-wife team of Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison as they travel with their 2-year-old son from Alberta to Nova Scotia on the trail of Canadian author Farley Mowat. The trails undertaken by Heuer and Allison were the same ones that provided the setting for Mowat’s books “People of the Deer” (1952), “Owls in the Family” (1961) and “Never Cry Wolf” (1963).    

The festival’s directors and the Banff Centre, located in Alberta, Canada, also place an emphasis a commitment to their green initiative in promoting environmental conservation and sustainability. Tomlinson said that the commitment affects all the Banff staff, even on an individual level.

“Each and every person who works in the office has a great personal dedication to the environment,” she said. “In our personal lives, we make conscious decisions as to what products we buy … and we all do our best to use as few resources as possible; we reuse everything; we recycle what’s leftover.”

The Banff staff isn’t just all talk when it comes to the outdoors. They realize the fragile nature of what they hold most dear and actively attempt to do their part in giving back to
the earth.    

With films that jump from the exhilarating to the comedic to the literary sort, viewers will see films that inspire them to dust off those running shoes, mountain bike, kayak, or what have you, to get them into the summer outdoor groove.

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