Friday, December 12, 2008

BMFF film lists for Huntsville, Jan. 20 & 21

Here it is, the film list for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour’s stop in Huntsville, Jan. 20 & 21, 2009, presented by Algonquin Outfitters. Thanks to Stefanie and Seana of the Banff Centre for their excellent advice and recommendations.

Remember, if you attend both shows, save your ticket stubs and receive a one-time 15% discount on any regularly-priced item at Algonquin Outfitters.

Please note that, unlikely though it is, film selections may change at the last minute due to unforeseen circumstances.

Reviews are not available for all the films in the program but I have included a few to whet your appetite.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009.
Doors open at 6:30 pm, the show starts at 7:30 pm.
Get tickets now!

Award: People’s Choice, Radical Reels Night
Canada, 2007, 12 minutes
Directed by Alexander Lavigne
Produced by Ryan Leech

Description: Combining sheer difficulty with creative style, three athletes execute mind-bending feats of bike mastery and redefine technical riding standards.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“...a fantastic short sport film that keeps the crowd mesmerized and brings on the oohs, aahs and even applause..."
Journey to the Center
Award: Best Film on Mountain Sport
USA, 2007, 55 minutes
Directed by Jens Hoffman
Produced by Iiro Seppanen and Jeb Corliss

Description: Journey with three world-renowned BASE jumpers as they travel 10,000 miles to confront the mist and mystery of an old cave, an ancient culture and their own demons at the center of their dangerous mission: Tian Keng, the Heavenly Pit.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“The film has everything…beautiful imagery and scenery, human connections, diversity in the characters, great storyline and build up of excitement and tension in the jumper’s journey and preparations for their mission.”

“ palms are still sweating!”
Patagonian Winter
Award: Special Jury Selection
UK, 2007, 31 minutes
Directed and Produced by Alastair Lee

Description: Andy Kirkpatrick is a pioneer of winter climbing in Patagonia, with many hair-raising ascents to his name. His latest Patagonian horror show is an attempt at the first winter ascent of Torre Egger with fellow alpinist Ian Parnell.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“...a classic alpine film with unbearable conditions, difficult ascents, insufferable bivouacs all laced with Andy and Ian’s self deprecating British humour. Audiences loved this film for the story & imagery, but most of all for their incessant jokes and funny perspective of their often appalling situations.”
The Cable Car
Switzerland, 2008, 7 minutes
Directed by Claudius Gentinetta, Frank Braun
Produced by Claudius Gentinetta

Description: While traveling by cable car to a place somewhere in the mountains, an old man treats himself to some snuff. With every sneeze, the cable car cabin falls apart more and more, but the man is far from accepting his fate.

The Sharp End: Eastern Europe
USA, 2008, 17 minutes
Directed and produced by Peter Mortimer and Nick Rosen

Description: A talented group of climbers explores the unique history, culture, and danger of one of the world’s most remarkable climbing destinations.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“Once again a great storyline, unique rock formations backed by beautiful scenery, non traditional climbing techniques and an interesting meeting of the American and German/Czech climbing culture. This film has something for everybody...”
Under the Influence
USA, 2008, 12 minutes
Produced and Directed by Todd Jones, Steve Jones, Corey Gavitt

Description: Follow the mind-blowing efforts of today’s top riders in the amazing conditions that emerged from one of the deepest winters in recorded history. This special version for the Banff tour features relentless powder in Jackson Hole and incredibly steep spines in Alaska.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“This is another classic Teton Gravity Research Film, steep lines, big ascents and helishots of backcountry and big mountain skiing.”

“, excitement, danger, photography, powder... It’s TGR; what more can you say?”

Wednesday, January 21, 2009.
Doors open at 6:30 pm, the show starts at 7:30 pm.
Get tickets now!

The Red Helmet
USA, 2008, 6 minutes
Directed by Tyler Young
Produced by Dave Barlia

Description: Overcome with fear, a young boy runs into the forest. He finds a magic red helmet and goes on the adventure of a lifetime. Slowly building courage, he is transformed and returns to confront his boyhood fears.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“...provides a really great montage of different sports in a short period of time, with a fantastic soundtrack.”
If You’re Not Falling
Award: Best Short Mountain Film
UK, 2008, 8 minutes
Directed by Paul Diffley
Produced by Dave Brown

Description: Canadian rock legend Sonnie Trotter heads to Scotland to do battle on another “hardest rock climb in the world”. As each day passes, he collects more and more airtime: fifty-foot falls from the steep rock buttress that plunges down beneath a historic castle. “Well, if you’re not falling, you’re not trying,” observes Trotter.

Red Gold
Award: People’s Choice
USA, 2008, 54 minutes
Directed by Ben Knight and Travis Rummel
Produced by Travis Rummel

Description: At the headwaters of the two largest remaining sockeye salmon runs on the planet, a proposed mine may require the largest dam ever constructed to contain the toxic runoff. Native, commercial and sport fishermen oppose the proposed Pebble Mine, while mine officials argue the case for development. At stake is a unique way of life that would not exist if the salmon didn't return with Bristol Bay's tide.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:

“The most talked about film so far on the tour. It is a stunning mosaic of photography, land and seascapes, real people’s stories and a mine that threatens the largest run of sockeye salmon on the planet.”

“The photography in Red Gold was wonderful.... No wonder this film was the Peoples' Choice!”

“All of this year's choices were very good. Only Red Gold stood out in a class of its own.”
The Unbearable Lightness of Skiing
Canada, 2008, 14 minutes
Directed and Produced by Greg Hill

Description: A season of backcountry skiing, described by a keen and passionate narrator.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:

“Beautiful scenery, great narrative by the filmmaker and ski ascents and descents that are dreamy. A film with a local feel but broad appeal.”

“This is a great ski film, particularly for audiences that are adverse to the sponsored, hip-hop, TGR type of film. Great footage, mellow soundtrack, a few laughs.”
USA, 2008, 10 minutes
Directed and produced by Stephen Hyde

Description: A Peruvian family journeys into the Andes to cut enormous blocks of ice, bringing them down to the valley to make colorful shaved ice treat called Shikashika.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“ upbeat and lighthearted film on an aspect of Peruvian culture.”

“...showcases a lifestyle that is very different to our way of life.”

USA, 2007, 3 minutes
Directed and produced by Joaquin Baldwin

Description: An origami tale of a skillful paper folder who shapes the world with his hands.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“...great short animation, very kid friendly...”

“...shows the diversity of the festival entries... makes you think about what the world has become.”
Mountain Town: The Cowboy and the Park Goddess
USA, 2007, 13 minutes
Directed by Brendan Kiernan and Frank Pickell
Produced by Steve Metcalf and Brendan Kiernan

Description: Isabelle Fallardeau is a young woman whose passion for snowboarding and penchant for power tools has led her to a career as one of the world's only female terrain park builders. Mac Smith is a lifelong rancher, environmentalist and ski patrolman who experienced personal tragedy and triumph while leading the development of Aspen’s Highlands Bowl.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“a really great short film portraying 2 mountain town characters that reveals their lives through what they do for a living. The cowboy portion has some really great vintage ski footage from the 70’s and 80’s and the Park Goddess is quite down to earth and inspirational for a younger audience. This film has really good broad appeal and has something for everyone.”

“Great human interest story.”

The Last Frontier - Papua New Guinea
USA, 2008, 18 minutes
Directed and produced by Trip Jennings

Description: The Epicocity crew travel to Papua New Guinea to document the island of New Britain’s pristine water, habitat and intact indigenous culture through an exploratory caving and kayaking expedition.

Reviews from the Banff Mountain Film Festival:
“Probably the most well-done paddling film we’ve had. I think it should be included at every location. With its mix of culture and sport, it can be enjoyed by non-paddlers.”

Saturday, December 06, 2008

A little insight on film selection for the BMFF

Now that tickets are on sale for the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Huntsville, we get many inquiries about what films are playing each night. In order to answer this question in a roundabout way, I will now reveal how film selection works, or at least, how it works here.

Algonquin Outfitters has a film selection committee of one, yours truly. Once the films are selected for the World Tour, the hardworking folks at the the Banff Centre compile a list of films available to screen and make it available to tour hosts. The list tells me the film's title, director & producer, country of origin, length, classification (ie. general audience or parental guidance), awards won at the festival, subject focus and a short description. Even more useful is a list of comments made by audience members, festival staff and "road warriors" who have seen the film either at the festival in Banff or on early dates of the world Tour. Not every film on the list gets reviewed this early, so sometimes all the information I have is a descriptive sentence by the film-maker. The festival also has resources and guidelines for film selection and sends out a promo DVD containing short clips from selected films (for some reason I haven't received one yet). There are also some great resources and an excellent contest for the interested public.

With this information, I go through the list and make notes. Certain films jump out as "100 % must show," others as "no way," most as "maybe" and a few as "well, I'd really like to see that but will anyone else?" After 10 years of hosting the festival in Huntsville, I think I have a reasonable sense of what will or will not appeal to our audience. Having said that, our audience is one of the most diverse on the tour, so it is not easy to predict and I long ago accepted the fact that you can't please everyone. Then, I use a spreadsheet to make a list for each night, which calculates running times for the first and second halves and the whole evening. I used to use a calculator for this but then I discovered Excel. Finally, I email my preliminary list to the Banff Centre and get the tour coordinator's opinion. Her opinions on audience reaction, the order films should be shown, music and film quality are invaluable.

So that is where I'm at in the process for this year. Once I hear back from the "Banff people," I will finalize the list and post it on this very blog.

If you are anxious to buy tickets before that, and can only go to one night, I will say this. The first night (Jan. 20) leans more towards towards the action sport/adventure category but this year's film selection contains films with many layers of themes. Many of the action sport films have underlying themes of culture, travel and human interest that will give them a broad appeal.

The second night (Jan. 21) features a wider range of film subjects, leaning more towards nature, mountain culture, humour, creative film-making and adventurous travel. And, of course, there are ski films in the list for each night!

I hope this helps!