B anff Mountain Film Festival audiences are being treated to an adventure sequel this year.
Two young men who presented a captivating film of desperation, family tension, laughs and sea-sickness in 2010 as they paddled a kayak through the deadly waters between Australia and New Zealand are back with a more chilling tale.
The film will be featured in the festival event that’s coming to Spokane next weekend.
The World Tour of flicks selected from the Oct. 27-Nov. 4 festival in Banff, Alberta, will be screened at the Bing Crosby Theater Friday through Sunday.
The three-day Spokane event will feature roughly two dozen films – different films each night – that are being selected from a record 79 film finalists chosen for screening at the 2012 festival.
The films lift audiences to the top of the world’s high peaks, move them through mountain cultures and drop them into the streets and rivers where mountain bikers perform death-defying stunts and kayakers paddle river routes thought to be untouchable a decade ago.
Phil Bridgers, who attended the 36th annual festival in Banff, said he’s amazed that adventure filmmakers continue to upgrade their productions a notch year after year.
“We’ll have some great feature films and shorts on a wide range of sports showing at The Bing,” said Bridgers, who works for Mountain Gear, which sponsors the Spokane event.
“But one film is a real standout,” he said, citing “Crossing the Ice.” He’s not alone in his assessment.
The tale of two Australian adventurers and childhood friends, James Castrission and Justin Jones, captivated Banff festival judges and audiences as the duo tackled the perilous journey across Antarctica to the South Pole and back again, completely unassisted.
Two years ago, the young men charmed audiences with their film, “Crossing the Ditch,” featuring their 60-day epic in 2007 as they made the first tandem-kayak crossing of the Tasman Sea.
This year’s film features them dragging their food and shelter across 710 miles of barren ice. Many had tried; all had failed before this trek.
However, it wasn’t clear who would go down in the record books as the first to make the unassisted round-trip trek.
After much planning and preparation, Cas and Jonesy discover an eerie similarity to Captain Scott’s race to the South Pole: A Norwegian is on the ice, too. He’s more experienced, he’s tackling the same record, and he has a head start.
The film won three top awards at the Banff festival, including the grand prize, the best film in the Adventure and Exploration category and the coveted People’s Choice Award from the votes of festival audiences.
“You can bet that film will be a crowd-pleaser in Spokane, too,” Bridgers said. “These guys have a way of playing to the camera with drama as well as comedy.”
The festival in Banff offers a chance to meet some of the headliners featured in the films. A highlight was the presentation by Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner of Austria, the only woman alpinist to climb all 14 of the world’s 8,000-meter peaks without supplemental oxygen.
Kaltenbrunner, National Geographic’s 2012 Explorer of the Year, reached the summit of K2, the world’s second-tallest peak, in August 2011, via the North Pillar to claim her place in history.
Her presentation was followed by the world premiere of the film documenting that climb, “K2 Siren of the Himalayas.”
Some of the most remote places and cultures on Earth are featured in the festival, coming to audiences through the work of intrepid filmmakers who match outdoor skills and creativity with state-of-the-art mobile, durable imaging technology.
This year’s event attracted 257 entries from 35 countries. Judges whittled the field to 79 films screened during the nine-day festival before a jury awarded more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.
The World Tour of films that can be licensed to travel will show in 32 countries reaching more than 245,000 people at over 635 screenings. Spokane is among the first stops.
“Some people may already have seen the movie, “ REEL ROCK 7: Honnold 3.0,” but we’re going to show it again in Spokane,” Bridgers said. “It’s that good. It’s that amazing.”
Last year the free-climbing phenom Alex Honnold was featured in a film documenting his solo of Yosemite’s Half Dome.
This year he blows everyone’s mind by returning to the park to complete an unaided solo of Mount Watkins, Half Dome AND El Capitan in one 18-hour marathon.
“I was on the edge of my seat and my hands were sweating – and I was just watching,” Bridgers said. “At one point on his third route, he was exhausted and realizing he still has 2,000 vertical feet of rock to climb.”
The film “Living Wild” takes an uncommon shift from the usual Banff finalists as filmmakers follow people learning to live off the land – hunting and gathering, making their own clothes from animal skins and using bone for fish hooks – in the way primitive cultures survived.
Also catching Bridgers’ eye were films on trail running, a documentary on an 87-year-old survival instructor, and “The Gimp Monkeys,” which features three amputees as they climb the Zodiac route on El Capitan.
This year’s World Tour package also includes a good assortment of the popular short flicks.
“One standout five-minute film shows a mountain biker doing unbelievable tricks, such as riding across the top of a train and jumping the gaps between cars,” Bridgers said.