Bringing the outside, inside: Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival kicks off world tour
By Andi Endruhn, Layout Editor
Mountaineers, climbers, skiers, snowboarders and self-professed outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds are not generally the people you would expect to pay and sit still indoors for hours on end. However, anyone who has ever had a hobby that borders on an obsession knows the only thing that even comes close to doing the activity you want, is talking about it. Endlessly.
The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival — and its role as an epicentre for fidgety on-the-go people to share stories about their favourite places and activities — wrapped up it’s week-long tenure at the Banff Centre on Nov. 4.
In sweeping vistas, detailed close-ups, panoramic photos and loving narration, every single film, book and photo pays homage to nature at its best.
Both big and small names and locations share the screen at the festival. Tajikistan’s remote mountains, rivers and flora take centre stage in The Botanist, after the well known slopes of Aspen and Squaw Valley in Brotherhood of Skiing fill the screen. Up and coming athletes like Rajesh (RJ) Magar — an aspiring mountain biker from Kathmandu — are featured alongside renowned climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgenson’s attempts at a 900-metre Yosemite rock face in The Dawn Wall. Nothing is too small, or too unimportant to admire.
Books inspired by and about adventure and nature took centre stage with presentations and readings by the authors. Waymaking, an anthology of art, poetry and prose by women about adventure and exploration exhibited a unique style of outdoor writing, focusing on existing alongside the adventure and nature, rather than conquering. Other books like No Friends but the Mountains explore the mountainous regions of the world where only a fraction of the population live, but is home to an inordinate amount of the worlds conflict.
Films like The Passage showcase how the memories created in the outdoors shape and define who we are. Others like Blue Heart and Tierra del Viento (Land of the Wind) are love letters to the communities that are shaped by their landscapes. Blue Heart showcases the villages and people of the Balkans as they work to protect the last wild, unobstructed rivers in Europe that determine their way of life, while Tierra del Viento is a lens into the never-ending harsh vastness of Patagonia and the people who live there.
Photography from National Geographic photographer Jeremy Schmidt and Order of Canada recipient Pat Morrow, revel in the sculptures and paintings created in the rocks of the slot canyons found in the American Southwest. While Jeremiah Marsh plays with the light and shadows of mountain peaks around Canmore and Banff.
In a community of people striving to go faster, higher, farther and more extreme, it’s easy to forget what draws us outdoors in the first place. In the confinement of a dim theatre, a projection of pristine glass-like rivers and impossible summits can be a necessary wake-up call.
Hours and days of discussing the beauty of nature and what it brings out in people can be just enough to convince you that some of the greatest art you can experience is just outside your door.
The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will be back at the University of Calgary for screenings from Jan. 15 to 27, 2019.