Saturday, April 2, 2011

Return visit of Banff Mountain Film Festival goes underground with cave expedition

by Janet I. Martineau
Scene from "A Life Ascending"
When the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour tour returns to Midland on Saturday, April 9, expect a little squirming in the seats.
Slithering snakes? An avalanche? Attacking bears?
Nope. A cave, in all of its claustrophobic discomfort.
“‘Into the Darkness’ is the first film we’ve shown on caving in the eight years we’ve booked Banff,” says Dennis Pilaske, director of interpretation at Chippewa Nature Center. “It offers amazing images of the underground world, and really gives a sense of the claustrophobic conditions these adventurers endure.
“I suspect there will be some squirming in seats when that film is shown.”
Fortunately, it lasts only 15 minutes and is but one of six films shown, starting at 7 p.m. in the Bullock Creek High School Auditorium, 1420 Badour in Midland. Tickets are $12 at the door.
For the past 35 Novembers, the Banff Centre in Canada’s Alberta has hosted the Banff Mountain Film Festival, a nine-day event which showcases 50 outdoor films pared down from upwards of 300 entires submitted from around the world. The festival also includes seminars and panel discussions as well as photography and book competitions.
 At its conclusion, the top films go on a world tour -- with each sponsor, like Chippewa, picking the films it want to show from the ones offered.
This year’s roster in Midland also includes the 57-minute “A Life Ascending,” which won two prizes at the festival -- best film on mountain culture and the people’s choice award.
Living with his wife and two young daughters on a remote glacier in British Columbia, Ruedi Beglinger has built a reputation as one of the top mountaineering guides in the world.
“A Life Ascending” follows his family’s unique life in the mountains and their journey in the years following a massive avalanche that killed seven people.
“We are excited about showing that one,” says Pilaske, “because it focuses on an individual’s lifelong connection to wild places and his interest in sharing those places with other people.
“And it also addresses the risks involved with adventuring into the wild. I hope people who come enjoy it for its look at a family making a life in the mountains as well as  gain an appreciation for the power of nature.”
Rounding out the roster are:
Scene from "Wild Water"
-- “Parking Garage: Behind the Limit” (4 minutes). This shortie spoofs the Discovery Channel show “Everest: Beyond the Limit.”
-- “Wild Water” (25 minutes). “We always try to show a film on paddling,” says Pilaske, “and this year ‘Wild Water’ caught our eye because it is much more than a film about paddlers dropping off waterfalls. “We like that it explores the passion of the people who ride wild water and what they get out of it.”
-- “Still Motion” (3 minutes) -- Compiled from the highlights of a whole year of wildlife research, still images from motion-triggered wildlife cameras create an intricately sequenced movie-like production showcasing Alberta’s wildlife.
Playful fawns, stalking cougars and curious elk take center stage in a film which asks just who is looking at whom.
-- “The Swiss Machine” (20 minutes) -- A look at the record-breaking ascents of the Alps by Ueli Steck, accompanied by aerial footage that captures him racing up the massive alpine faces.
And then he meets up with Alex Honnold in Yosemite to take this speed game to the largest, highest walls in the world.

The three-hour evening also includes commentary by a Banff representative who tours with the showings and drawings on a variety of outdoor giveaways.

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