Banff film fest tour

To the limit and beyond

By Dagney C. Ernest | Feb 07, 2018
© Erik Boomer/“Into Twin Galaxies - A Greenland Epic” Portage takes on a new meaning as kayakers tow their whitewater kayaks over 1,000 km of the Greenland Ice Cap.

Rockport — Biking through rainforests, kayaking exotic whitewater, climbing Southwestern peaks — the annual Midcoast visitation of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour always offers some warm-weather wonders to complement the weekend of the U.S. National Toboggan Championships. But the Banff Centre in Alberta, British Columbia, and its festivals celebrate mountain culture, and many of the films plunge viewers into frigid fantasies of skiing down mountains, hiking up icy slopes, plowing through powder and, this year, something even more extreme.

“And then there is the lady who freedives under the ice! Thinking about it makes me a bit squirmy,” said Jeff Boggs of Maine Sport Outfitters, which hosts the tour every year.

The Banff Mountain Film Fest World Tour will make its 18th appearance Friday and Saturday, Feb. 9 and 10, at 7 p.m. in the Strom Auditorium of Camden Hills Regional High School. Last year’s screenings sold out, so advance tickets are a good idea.

NOTICE AS OF FRI AM: The Banff Mountain Film Festival is SOLD OUT for BOTH NIGHTS! There’s a possibility that there will be some spare tickets at the door, but please note that we cannot guarantee this.

As always, there is a great mix of films, a different program each night of short — some really short — films plus a couple of longer selections. The screenings are presented by a lively tour guide from Banff, who sprinkles backstories, jokes and giveaways throughout each night. This year’s local choices, picked from 37 (of the 2017 fest’s 384-plus) on tour, offer sport, environment, culture and animal themes,  Boggs said.

Several revolve around biking — solo travel riding; fast and furious mountain biking; riding on ice and through lava caves. And not all the films follow wild youths making the most of their physical powers, driven by adrenaline … well, maybe still the latter.

“Two films involve amputees maintaining their outdoor pursuits. One has a 90-year-old lady who continues to figure skate,” Boggs said, “celebrating a life well lived!”

Over the years, the Banff films have grown in their representation of female athletes and adventurers, and this year’s programs bring the journeys of a balanced bunch of men, women, young and old, from around the world, to the Strom. Some films are Banff prizewinners … and one is a Camden International Film Festival prizewinner. “The Last Honey Hunter,” filmed in Nepal, won the Oscar-qualifying Camden Cartel Award for Best Short at CIFF 2017.

“Honey Hunter” is Saturday’s feature-length pick; on Friday, it’s “Into Twin Galaxies - A Greenland Epic,” which Boggs said he can’t wait to see for its “astounding footage of the effort involved — they used kite skis to tow their kayaks — and glacial scenery traversed to reach the northern-most river ever paddled!”

Those who think of Maine as the far north, and its winters as a challenge to get through, find comfort every year at Banff as films testify that it’s a lot more intense in a lot of other places. Take Denali, for example, the highest point in North America and known for its perilous “white wind.” One film celebrates the personal sacrifice of the Nepali Sherpas, whose skill — and, perhaps, faith — is responsible for many a visiting mountain climber’s adventure.

Nature-lovers will enjoy the opportunity to see a segment of the stunning “Planet II” series on a big screen. Another film follows avian biologists as they study the migrating raptors of HawkWatch’s Goshute and Manzano sites. One film explores the intersection of mountain biking and fine art, while another offers a heart-stopping demonstration of city skiing. And speaking of heart-stopping, there is more than one opportunity to vicariously highline — in one case, on a surfboard.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour brings these cinematic experiences to approximately 40 countries, reaching more than 390,000 people at more than 840 screenings. The community that gathers at the Strom every year is part of the local stop’s success; Boggs said attendees can count on connecting with old friends and making new ones at the World Tour screenings.

The high school is located off Route 90. Online ticket sales have closed. Tickets can be acquired at both Maine Sport stores — Route 1 in Rockport and Main Street in Camden — in advance for $10, $5 for students; or call 236-7120. Tickets at the door, if available, will be $12/$5, as well. And put those tickets somewhere you can find them for the giveaways, which range from bags of coffee to Canadian holiday stays.

Following are synopses of the Midcoast selections; note that the schedule is subject to change. Some of the films are rated PG, as noted in the schedule, usually for coarse language and the occasional bit of nudity.

FRIDAY

“Where the Wild Things Play” (2017, USA) is a 4-minute film that parries the “Why there aren’t more females in the adventure industry?” question with here-they-are footage of big mountain skiing, climbing, whitewater kayaking and more.

“Ascend” (2017, USA) runs 6 minutes and barely keeps up with Jon Wilson who, as a young adult, lost his leg to cancer. Mountain biking has gotten him back on track.

“Denali's Raven” (2016, USA) offers nine minutes with Alaskan climber, skier, guide and mother Leighan Falley as she reflects on her adventures and new career: mountain pilot.

“Into Twin Galaxies - A Greenland Epic” (2016, Germany) is a PG-rated feature that runs 52 minutes and follows three National Geographic Adventurers of the Year’s insane kayaking mission to experience a glacier from within.

“DreamRide 2” (2017, USA) is a 6-minute MTB adventure with Mike Hopkins traversing volcanic fields, exploring hidden lava caves and racing down rivers of ice.

“Johanna” (2016, UK) is a 4-minute cinematic portrait of record-breaking Finnish freediver Johanna Nordblad, who has made a sport out of swimming under Arctic ice.

“Surf the Line” (2016, France) — the highline, that is. The Flying Frenchies collective is back with three wild and crazy minutes.

“Loved By All: The Story of Apa Sherpa” (2017, Canada) is a 14-minute portrait of the record-holding Nepalese Sherpa mountaineer whose nonprofit foundation supports change in rural Nepal, where income earned as a high-altitude porter conflicts with dreams realized only through education and knowledge.

“Sky Migrations” (2016, USA) runs 16 minutes and is rated PG. Ecologist and filmmaker Charles Post shines a light on the network of backcountry scientists and sentinels at the front lines of raptor conservation.

“The Frozen Road” (2017, UK) is Ben Page’s 24-minute soliloquy on the harsh truths about his solitary fat bike adventure in the Canadian Arctic.

“Imagination: Tom Wallisch” (2017, Canada) is a lyrical 5-minute fantasy with a legendary urban skier, delivering backflips and roof drops, improbable rail slides and huge airs.

SATURDAY
“Ice Call - Backyards Project - Sam Favret” (2016, France) is a freeski three minutes in the Mer de Glace valley glacier at the heart of the Mont-Blanc mountains in France.

“Edges” (2016, USA) is a 9-minute visit with 90-year-old Yvonne Dowlen, who has been ice skating for as long as she can remember.

“Pedal” (2017, USA) is an 8-minute tour edit peek into Hera van Willick’s fully self-supported bicycle across continents — 43 countries down so far.

“Walk on the Mountain” (2017, USA) offers 19 minutes with Junior Walk, an anti-coal activist in southern West Virginia, showing why his battle against mountaintop removal is personal as well as environmental.

“The Last Honey Hunter” (2017, Canada) is rated PG and runs 36 minutes. Maule Dhan Rai is the last man in his remote Nepali village to be dream-chosen by a wrathful forest spirit to risk life and limb to harvest honey with hallucinogenic properties.

“Why” (2016, France) runs seven minutes and is rated PG. Iceland’s cold, rugged and forbidding landscape where powerful rivers plunge through bedrock gorges, over massive waterfalls toward the sea, gives a crew of French kayakers second thoughts.

“Intersection: Micayla Gatto” (2017, USA) blends reality with art for five minutes as mountain biker Gatto takes viewers into her world as a painter and as an athlete.

“Planet Earth II - Mountain Ibex” (2016, UK) is a 7-minute tour edit from BBC Worldwide featuring some of the most elusive and mysterious animals on the planet.

“Dreamwalkers: The Faroes Project” (2017, Australia) is a 17-minute tour edit. Four friends set out on an adventure to be the first to highline in one of the most unlikely places.

“The Space Within” (2017, USA) offers six minutes of a Banff tour perennial — full immersion in beautiful, soft, Japanese powder snow.

“Stumped” (2017, USA) runs 25 minutes, parental guidance suggested. Maine native Maureen Beck has never let the fact that she is missing her lower left arm hold her back. “Stumped” chronicles her months-long quest to do the Days of Future Passed climb in Boulder Canyon.

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Staff Profile

Dagney C. Ernest
A&E editor for Courier Publications, LLC
(207) 594-4401/4407, ext. 115
Email Me

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 more than 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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