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Organizer ensures Banff film festival has local, global impacts

Anavel and Michael Boge put on the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene. (Kathy Plonka)
Anavel and Michael Boge put on the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene. (Kathy Plonka)

Michael Boge, of Sandpoint, has hosted North Idaho screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival for 14 years, first bringing the popular tour to his hometown, then adding events in Coeur d’Alene and Sun Valley. Proceeds have supported a variety of community organizations, including Sandpoint’s Panida Theater, Coeur d’Alene’s Centennial Trail Foundation, and contributions to an avalanche forecasting position in Sun Valley. Four years ago, Boge and his wife, Anavel, started using the proceeds to send Peruvian children to school in her hometown of Satipo, located in the high Amazon basin, east of the Andes. To date, about 60 children have attended school thanks to the Satipo Kids Project.

Q.What are the things they need to be able to go to school?

A.They need shoes, the school uniform, books and school supplies.

Q.How many children have you sent to school?

A.We started off with 15, and this year we’ve put in 38. … Some have left. We’d like to have them all stay, but we have problems. Two years ago, there was a lot of terrorism to where we couldn’t even go over to Satipo. It’s the drugs. What they’re doing is extortion on the farmers. This is where our kids come from. And families said, “We’re moving.” They just left because it wasn’t safe.

Q.How much does it cost to send one kid to school for the year?

A.About $140.

Q.Do you make money from this?

A.No, it started off as a hobby and has just kind of grown from that. I’ve always felt like I’ve been lucky, we’ve both been lucky, and if we give to help others, we’ll get it back in other ways.

Q.Have you seen what impact it might have on their future lives?

A.What we’re hoping for is when they get out of high school – Peruvian school is 10 years – I’m thinking maybe there’s a couple of kids we can support, get them in college or whatever. I would hope maybe one of them is going to get the idea to help their community.

Q.Does this sort of thing happen with the other Banff host cities?

A.Yeah, a lot of the host cities, they do other things. I find a lot of them are (supporting) a ski patrol or an outdoor group. But I would say a large portion of the Banff films are going to help. The Banff films are really incredible because it’s this huge community network that’s going on and when the films come to Sandpoint, and being in the theater there, it’s all these people you haven’t seen all winter.

I see the Banff films as this big dream machine where you go and you hear what people are doing or what they’ve got planned. … It’s pretty neat and it’s doing that all over. I’ve tried to explain to Banff (officials) it’s not just a film festival … it’s a real community builder.