Sunday, January 23, 2011

How to fill a theatre

How do you make a theatre go from this:
Huntsville's beautiful Algonquin Theatre is ready for the BMFF
 To this? (sorry for the bad picture)
BMFF Road Warrior Paul Price gives the thumbs up to Huntsville enthusiasm
 All you need to do is host the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour! The shows last Tuesday and Wednesday nights at Huntsville's Algonquin Theatre were sold out performances, with great films, great door prizes and a good time had by all. 

Algonquin Outfitters has been involved with this event in Huntsville since the very beginning. Once upon a time, a young outdoor instructor named Paul Brittain, who worked at the now-defunct Summit College, came to us with a proposal, something along the lines of: "So, there are these cool films, and we have a great venue but we need some help." So help we did. Eventually, the event outgrew the beautiful Chapel at MBC, so we moved to Grandview Resort. Then they built this beautiful theatre in downtown Huntsville and here we are selling out two showings in a frozen cottage-country town of 20,000 people. Way to go Huntsville!  And beyond, for that matter. We get people from places like Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Vankoughnet, Haliburton, Ravenscliffe, South River, Kearney, Emsdale, Killaloe and even some regulars who drive up from Toronto just to see the show here.

I re-counted on my fingers – we have presented the World Tour for 16 years and I have have been fortunate to have seen every performance. The movies this year were among the best ever. And that is saying a lot, given some of the memorable films we've seen over the years: some standouts for me were The Human Race (1997), Bhutan - The Last Shangri-La (1998), True Fans (1999), Berserk in the Antarctic (2001), Biscuit (2003), Sinners (2004), The Hatch (2005), Asiemut and Aweberg (2006) and the list goes on. Feel free to comment below if you have a favourite from this year, or any year.

Amazing things happen when people see these films. You can expect to be moved, possibly shocked, occasionally brought to tears, inspired, certainly made to laugh, amazed at the physical ability and mental endurance of the human race and have your jaw drop in awe at a landscape you never knew existed on this planet. The great thing about being a host is that people will spontaneously share their impressions and tell you their stories. Last night was no exception. At intermission, I ran into a man I just met the day before, a friend of a friend. I asked him what he thought of A Life Ascending, our feature film of the evening. He looked me straight in the eye and said, " That was life-changing." 

Wow. At the end of the night, one of the theatre volunteers, a woman, I would think, in her sixties, came up to me and said: "You know, I really liked that kayaking movie. It made me think that if I had my life to live over again, I'd like to try that." Wow, again.

Stay tuned, next year's film choices will be announced on this blog sometime around the first week of December.


  1. Did you attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Huntsville this year? If you did and you spotted yourself in the full theatre picture, you could win a $20 AO Gift Card by tagging yourself in the picture we posted on our facebook page, or by tagging yourself on a scan of your ticket stub from the show and uploading it to our facebook page.

    Contest closes today (Jan 25th) at 5pm.

    Visit our Facebook page to enter:

  2. AO Mini FB Contest Winner is... Stella Barnett-Walsh. Congratulations Stella, some more good news for you too.. I mistakenly posted the value of $25 for the gift card yesterday instead of $20 so I'm going to honor the higher value. Thank you to everyone who entered.