Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour 2014

Not just any winter weekend

By Dagney C. Ernest | Feb 05, 2014
The most talked-about sequence of Sweetgrass Productions’ “Valhalla” offers a fit end to each Midcoast night of this year’s Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour.

Rockport — February generally means snow on the Midcoast; last year, there was so much it created havoc with even such winter-centric events as the annual U.S. Toboggan Championships and Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour screenings.

Things look to run more smoothly this year, but there still will be snow a-plenty on the screen of Camden Hills Regional High School’s Strom Auditorium, as well as desert sands, rushing waters and sun-drenched rock formations. The Midcoast stop of the Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour, hosted for the 14th year by Maine Sport, offers two separate programs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7 and 8, starting at 7 p.m. at the Rockport school just off Route 90.

The tour’s arrival coincides with more than the Toboggan Championships this year. To tap into the Winter Olympics vibe, Maine Sport’s Jeff Boggs, who programs the Midcoast screenings, has included “Ready to Fly,” a 2012 film that features then-hopeful Lindsey Van and her peers’ dedication to ski jumping, which makes its still controversial Olympic debut as a women’s sport in Sochi.

“Ready to Fly” is one of several films this year that focus on female adventurers. “Spice Girl” celebrates the remarkable feats of Hazel Findlay, the first woman to climb the British grade of E9 and a connoisseur of loose rock, dodgy gear and big runouts. But, yes, free climbing fave Alex Honnold shows up in one of the films; “Sufferfest” pairs him with Cedar Wright in a human-powered adventure linking all of California’s 14,000-foot peaks.

“The films are really great this year; we’ll have 18 between the two nights,” said Boggs.

A week out, he was till deciding whether or not to include a more issue-focused than usual selection, and another that pushes his under-an-hour limit. The first is one of two paddleboard movies among this year’s selections, a sign that the relatively-new-to-Maine sport has been embraced by the adventurous crowd. Snowboards are more common to Banff, but this year’s tour offers the original board sport — “North of the Sun” follows the wintertime skiing, and surfing, adventures of two young Norwegian “beach bums.”

Launched in 1976 as the Banff Festival of Mountain Films by the Banff Centre, the Banff Mountain Film Festival is in its 36th year and is held every fall in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Immediately after the festival in November, a selection of the best films entered goes on the World Tour, which visits approximately 305 cities annually in 20 countries. Each night of the Midcoast visit features some two-and-a-half hours of footage, split by an intermission and outdoor gear door prizes (so hold onto that stub).

Tickets for adults are $10 in advance, available at Maine Sport on Route 1 in Rockport and Main Street/Route 1 in Camden; price at the door will be $12. Student tickets are $5. For more information, call 236-7120 or 230-1284. Trailers for some of the films may be seen in the Rockport store.

The lineup is subject to change, but following are the scheduled films and some information about them. A few of these unrated films carry parental guidance warnings due to coarse language and there is some snow-dusted nudity. Unless otherwise noted, they are United States releases.

Friday, Feb. 7

• “The Burn” (2012), a stunning 6-minute film from Canada, shows skiers reveling in powder and new lines in a still-smoldering forest.

• “Keeper of the Mountains” (2013) is a 16-minute special edit of a Special Jury Mention film starring 90-year-old Elizabeth Hawley, who has been working the Himalayan Database in Kathmandu since 1960.

• “Kayak Free Kayaking” (2013) offers five minutes of fun as World Kayak Champion Trip Deacon pushes the limits of his “new sport.”

• “North of the Sun (Nordfor Sola)” (2012, Norway) won the festival’s Grand Prize, People’s Choice and Dolby Audio awards; see article for details on the 46-minute film.

• “Cascada” (2012) offers eight minutes of paddling perfection.

• “NotBad” (2013, Canada) is a 10-minute special edit featuring seven riders on a 30-day bike exploration of New Zealand.

• “Spice Girl” (2013) is Reel Rock 8 film about the distaff side of the UK climbing scene that runs 24 minutes; see article for details.

• “Return to the Tepuis” (2013) offers nine minutes with a minute pebble toad that lives in the crevices of South America’s mesas.

• “35” (2013) crams 35 routes on a climber’s 35th birthday into what was judged the fest’s Best Short Mountain Film.

• “Valhalla” (2013) is a special edit that will close both nights’ screenings with three minutes of, yes, naked skiing and snowboarding.

Saturday, Feb. 8

• “Split of a Second” (2012, Sweden) steps off the cliff for eight minutes in the world of wingsuit flying.

• “I Am Red” (2013) offers a four-minute visual poem about the Colorado River.

• “Ready to Fly” (2012), presented in a 56-minute version, was 2012’s Best Feature-Length Mountain Film.

• “Into the Mind” (2013, Canada) is a 12-minute special edit blending of high-energy snow sports, cinematography and music.

• “The Last Ice Merchant (El Ultimo Hielero)” (2012) is a 14-minute portrait of Ecuadorian Baltazar Ushca that won Best Film-Mountain Environment and Natural History.

• “The Questions We Ask” (2013, Canada) takes three minutes to cross the Pacific from Vancouver to Victoria on a stand-up paddleboard.

• “Sufferfest” (USA) runs 18-minutes. Alex Honnold decides free climbing isn’t enough and takes up bike riding to link his ascents.

• “Sensory Overload” (2013) spends eight minutes with blind whitewater kayaker Erik Weihenmayer.

• “Valhalla” encore.

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Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
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Dagney has been providing Courier coverage of the local arts scene since 1985 and has helmed the multi-paper A&E section since it debuted in 2003. She has been a local performing artist, community and professional, for 30 years and spent a decade writing, producing and announcing on-air for several Midcoast radio stations. When not in the NewsNest, Dagney likes to be in motion.

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