Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outdoors blog

Banff Films leave us in the dust

The Banff Mountain Film Festival has been held in early November in Banff, Alberta, for 35 years. (Banff Mountain Film Festival)
The Banff Mountain Film Festival has been held in early November in Banff, Alberta, for 35 years. (Banff Mountain Film Festival)

ADVENTURE --Spokane movie buffs lived on the edge for the past three days.  The World Tour from the Banff Mountain Film Festival featuring sometimes death-defying feats from underground to the highest mountains ended its three-day run at The Bing Crosby Theater Sunday night.

The Spokane audience is no stranger to adventure. Locals Chris Kopcynski and Jane Shelly, for example, had some insights into what was on the screen.

The Sunday audience -- the third consecutive sold-out crowd -- witnessed a Swiss climber set a speed record to solo the Eiger in 2 hours 47 minutes.

Chris Kopczynski and John Roskelley were in the audience. They are the first two Americans to climb the Eiger's North Face.  I asked Kop what he thought -- and he was speachless.  He just shook his head back and forth and sputtered. 

Bottom line: We were watching a big deal.

Also in the audience was Spokane adventurer Jane Schelly, who in 1995 was taken hostage by rebels in Kashmir while trekking with her husband, Don Hutchings. Schelly survived the kidnapping, Hutchings did not. She had a cool reaction to the film Azari: Freedom, which featured a young ski guide in Kashmir who made the case that everything has settled down in this restless territory between Pakistan and India and that tourists are needed to boost the country.

Schelly, who regularly follows the unrest in Kashmir, said the film had flaws in its depiction of the political upheaval as well as in its portrayal of Kashmir as safe for tourists.

"They're big issue now is rock throwing," she said. "The police are wearing body armor."  Extremists are getting the upper hand in many areas. "Women didn't wear veils when we were there, but they do now," she said. "After the extremists started throwing acid in their faces, they started covering their faces."

Basically, she billed the movie as a Chamber of Commerce type film from a beautiful but dubious destination.  "There's a lot that isn't said in that movie," she observed.

Finally, the only film in the three days to get a luke warm reception from the audience was Deeper, an extreme snowboard film. Seems that audiences are tiring of seeing snowboarders and skiers plunge down the too familiar white fins on the near-vertical cliffs near Valdez, Alaska.

Numbed to death:  That's dangerous for skiers and audiences alike.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

Follow Rich online:

Go to the full Outdoors page