Saturday, January 14, 2012

The righteously spectacular, outstanding and mind-blowing Banff Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is something that I have attended since it first came to Fort McMurray. At first it was just my husband and myself who faithfully attended from the inaugural event 13 years ago (yes, I know I am dating myself by saying that). When our son got older we began making this a family affair.  So every year around Christmas we excitedly start looking for the dates that the migratory tour will land at Keyano Theatre.  Every year the Fort McMurray Public Library  brings this most amazing series of films to quite a diverse gathering of people here in Wood Buffalo. You would be correct to assume that you will see a plethora of North Face attired outdoor enthusiasts in the audience, however you will also see a large amount of individuals who enjoy quality National Geographic documentaries.
This is the first time that we have attended both nights.  At first we did not realize that they had a completely different line-up each night, then it was because one night was on a school night so we had to pick only Friday nights.  However this year because of a change in the school calendar there was no school on Friday so that meant for the first time ever we all got to see both nights. And a collective cheer rises to the household rafters!

On Thursday night we decide to start things off right.  A quick bite to eat at Mucho Burrito's before the 7:30 pm has been decided upon by the boys and I going to disagree with the fact I don't have to cook supper?  Shout out to  for helping us with our decision - Thank you.  While standing in line I notice that our son is kinda' confused about the ordering process and what he may want to eat so I begin the usual conversation regarding the "How to Order Sign" and menu choices.  My husband chimes in with a couple of suggestions and because we have quite a few people ahead of us we settle into our own struggle to decide on what we want to eat for the night.  In the silence of thought our son suddenly announces to all within ear-shot...." Oh...I get it! It's a Mexican Subway!"  At least he liked the food.
We arrived early at Keyano Theatre with tickets in hand so we could find parking, which is notoriously difficult on evenings that have both classes and events.  It is all smiles as we find our seats and settle in for what we know will be a stunning array of adventures. We were not disappointed and well... frankly.... there has not been a time we have attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival where we were.  Each year the quality of the films has gotten better as technology enters into the world of adventure enthusiast.  Thursday night is full of incredible images from rock climbing  in the Ennedi Desert of Chad where veteran climber Mark Synnott brings young climbing stars Alex Honnold and James Pearson to the Ennedi to explore the Towers of the Ennedi, breath-taking footage of scuba-diving beneath the North Pole to the funny animation of a skiing cave-man in "The Man and The Mammoth" (our son's favorite).  Although I like all of the night's films if pushed I would have to say it was "Ski Bums Never Die".  This was a short 4 minute film that starred a group of seniors who meet each day to carving it up. My favorite was the only woman of the group who happened to be 76 years old and could put most young people to shame. After a day of skiing, and yes...biffing.. this group of geriatric plankers pile into the back of the pickup for the ride down to get their cars. Makes you re-evaluate what it means to be a senior after watching that. We can hardly wait for the next night's line-up.
The next night when our travelling BMFF road warrior asks the audience, "Who was here last night?" I am not entirely surprised to see almost half the hands shoot into the air.  This is a dedicated group of people who attend each year.  I am guaranteed to see many of the same people year after year....some for the full 13 years.  We start off the night with an absolutely amazing nine-year-old girl, Ashima Shiraishi, from New York City who is taking the bouldering world by storm in the film "Origins".  We are inspired by Tim Cope, his band of horses, and his dog Tigon in "The Last Frontier" as they travel overland 10,000 km from Mongolia to Hungary, following the footsteps of legendary warrior and nomad Genghis Khan which takes 3 years to complete. I liked it quite a bit although our son says he drank too much vodka.  The inspiring story of Josh Dueck who was an aspiring skier and coach until a ski accident in 2004 changed his life forever and left him paralyzed.  Not to give up his dream he came back to win gold in the Paralympic Games in his sit-ski. The end of the film festival had more than one person in audience shaking their heads over insanely fearless slack liner Sketchy Andy and his nude antics. The one that all of us could agree on was the hilarious 8 minute one man quest to revolutionize the world of animal avalanche rescue through the use of the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association. Not to give away the ending or anything, but the rapid deployment method of avalanche cats was a cannon full of fun.
All of us had another fantastic mind-blowing evening of the most righteous and spectacular kind.  Thank you to everyone at the Fort McMurray Public Library and all the local sponsors who work so hard to get the Banff Mountain Film Festival to Wood Buffalo.  I know that our family looks forward to this yearly family tradition. And with Radical Reels looking like it will be an annual event we are more than happy to add this to the family tradition list.

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