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Banff films coming to the Bing

Top-prize flick has technical quality and dirtbag charm

Just as Everest rises from the crowd of scintillating peaks, one film stood out among the crowd of more than 300 entries in the 2013 Banff Mountain Film Festival that concluded last weekend in Alberta.

The film will be featured in the festival World Tour of wide-ranging outdoor films that’s coming to Spokane next weekend.

North of the Sun, which won three major awards at the 37th annual festival, follows Norwegian adventurers Inge Wegge and Jorn Ranum as they search for legendary surf waves in the frigid Scandinavian waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Surfing is only a fraction of the film’s appeal. They travel to an island, build a hut out of driftwood and flotsam, nourish themselves on expired food and clean up the beaches in between riding the waves through nine dark winter months north of the Arctic Circle.

“If it’s possible to have a perfect adventure film, then this year’s grand prize winner comes about as close as you can get,” said Richard Else, a member of the international jury that judged the films.

“A highly original adventure that’s captured in a film planned to perfection … a wonderful story, engaging personalities, breathtaking camera work and expertly edited,” he said, noting that the film was the jury’s unanimous choice. 

And Else couldn’t help but add, “If you ever thought the people of Norway are just a bit different from the rest of us, you must see this film.”

It’s this sort of charm and audience appeal that set the film up to win the coveted People’s Choice Award at the festival.

The World Tour of flicks selected from the Oct. 26-Nov. 3 festival in Banff, Alberta, will be screened in Spokane at the Bing Crosby Theater Friday through Sunday.

While more than 80 films were screened during the nine-day festival, the three-day Spokane event will feature roughly two dozen films – different films each night.

Phil Bridgers of Mountain Gear, the Spokane company sponsoring the World Tour in Spokane, said North of the Sun definitely will be featured at The Bing but he couldn’t verify which night.

The lineup of films will be chosen on Friday afternoon based on which films have been licensed to tour, film lengths and a crowd-satisfying mix of themes usually including drama, conservation and humor.

Another film likely to show in Spokane is High Tension, a documentary that developed at 23,000 feet from the unplanned uprising of Sherpa climbers threatening to kill three internationally famous climbers on Mount Everest.

News of the attack that sent climbers Ueli Steck, Simone Moro and Jonathan Griffith running for their lives sent shock waves through the Himalayan climbing community last spring.

The film comes with a “Parental Guidance” warning, rare among Banff film finalists, because of coarse language and violence.

Through the course of three nights, the World Tour films have a reputation for lifting audiences to the top of the world’s high peaks, moving them through mountain cultures and dropping 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.

Bridgers, who attended the festival in Banff, said young adventure filmmakers are employing impressive sound quality and editing to the revolution of high-definition portable cameras that spiked the quality of films a decade ago.

“I saw 31 movies while I was in Banff and I was impressed at how editing software has caught up with the cameras,” he said. “These independent kids are going out and coming back with the complete package. They are very entertaining.”