Adventure, humor, environmental awareness and awe, plus the always-anticipated dose of pucker factor, are coming to Spokane next weekend in a road show of top outdoor adventure films.
The 39th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour travels from Alberta to The Bing Crosby Theater for showings Friday through Sunday.
Films feature all sorts of outdoor pursuits, including climbing, fishing, adventure running, surfing, wingsuit flying, paddling and pedaling mountain bikes to unimaginable extremes.
Many flicks are edited to shorter versions for the World Tour enabling the screening of 5-8 films each night.
The tour is a wildly popular social event, luring viewers who may already have seen some of the award-winning movies on YouTube or in another film tour, yet they’re drawn to the World Tour by the mix of films and the atmosphere of humanity that loves this stuff.
Friday and Saturday shows at the Bing sold out this week.
“Every night features different films, so the Sunday show is just as good as the others, and tickets are still available,” said Phil Bridgers, who organizes the Spokane shows for Mountain Gear.
Another way to get in on the Friday or Saturday performances: buy a three-day ticket package, some of which may still be available through mountaingear.com.
The World Tour, which will continue onto 40 countries through the year, returns in January to Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene. Both venues extended their runs to three nights this year, said local organizer Michael Boge of Mountain Fever.
Bridgers and Boge joined other tour hosts at the festival in Banff, which concluded last weekend.
“I viewed as many films as possible to listen to audience reaction and to search out from other hosts and the Banff Centre’s (World Tour) Road Warriors on what is working well in order to put together a program,” Boge said.
The Banff Centre offers a still-evolving pool of films that some filmmakers agree to license for the World Tour. Bridgers will make his selections from the films available to be screened in Spokane on Friday just hours before the World Tour kicks off the first of a three-night run at the Bing.
“It is not like showing the same ski porn flick that elicits the same response in every town,” Boge said. “Each show in each city has its own personality as the hosts are able to pick the films that best work for their town. Maybe that is why it is so hugely popular with over 1,000 screenings this year, on all seven continents.”
The Banff festival films themselves get much of the credit for popularity. High-quality, highly portable camera and sound gear along with Hollywood-quality editing software available for home computers give filmmakers unprecedented tools, even on a dirtbag budget.
Staffers from Mountain Gear, which sponsors the World Tour’s Spokane stop, also traveled to see the films in Banff. And they have some favorites they’re hoping will be offered on the tour.
“ Afterglow“ shines as new twist on the countless ski films that feature death-wish athletes plummeting down the nearly vertical snowy spines of Alaska mountains.
“It’s Alaska big-mountain skiing shot at night,” Bridgers said. “They put up colored spotlights and the skiers wear LED suits. Incredibly good stuff.”
This is real-deal life-and-death skiing in tripping Technicolor.
Banff always produces surprises in the adventure culture category. “I’m noticing that filmmakers are digging a little deeper and getting major sponsors to spend a little more to tell a great story,” Bridgers said.
“Mending the Line,” which won the festival’s coveted People’s Choice Award, is a good example.
The film features a 92-year-old Oregon fishing resort owner who returns to fly fish a stream in France that caught his eye after smoked settled from the Normandy invasion. “It’s an amazing fly fishing story that has only a little bit to do with fishing,” Bridgers said.
Following are more examples of the range of films that have a shot at screening in Spokane:
• “ Africa Fusion” – Climbers Alex Honnold and Hazel Findlay team up for a journey into the exotic landscapes and rock-climbing challenges of South Africa.
• “ Cerro Torre, a Snowball’s Chance in Hell” – David Lama’s quest to free climb a coveted peak in the infamous mountain weather of Patagonia weathers a storm of controversy.
• “ Danny MacAskill: The Ridge” – World-renowned mountain biker Danny MacAskill rides a rocky ridge that would freak out mountain goats if they existed in Scotland.
• “ Delta Dawn” – Voted the festival’s best short mountain film, paddle boarders capture the science, politics and public emotion triggered by an experimental dam release this year that reintroduced water into the Colorado River Delta all the way to the ocean for the first time in decades.
• “ Just Keep Running” – Follows Ruby Muir, one of the world’s most promising young trail runners, through her journey of love and loss.
• “ Sun Dog” – A rider forgets the leash and cuts loose on gorgeous lines of untouched snow with his best friend.
• “ Tumwater Solitude” – Taking advantage of peak flow levels in Washington’s Tumwater Canyon, Sam Grafton kayaks massive waves and Class V-plus whitewater.
• “ Wild Women” – Slack-liner Faith Dickey demonstrates the fun of life on the line.
• “ Tashi and the Monk” – Explores a brave social experiment taking place on a remote mountaintop in Himalaya foothills as a former Buddhist monk seeks to transform the lives of abandoned children through love and compassion. Voted the best film on mountain culture.
In addition to accomplished world-class athletes, some of the films feature youths, seniors and disabled people with unusual connections to the outdoors.
“I see this festival every year and it’s exciting to see what filmmakers are putting out to the public, their dreams and hard efforts to put together a story or experience,” Boge said. “It’s powerful.”
Proceeds from the Idaho World Tour events are turned over to The Satipo Kids Project, which funds 34 school age children from Peru so they may attend elementary school, along with the North Idaho Mountain Sports Education Fund that enables 70 local youth to take up winter skiing.
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