Banff: it’s a family affair

By Dagney C. Ernest | Feb 06, 2019
Photo by: © aAron Munson/Boy Nomad Janibek and his father, Auez, take on the annual winter migration in Mongolia’s Altai Mountains.

Rockport — One February weekend every year, fans of mountain adventure and cinematic splendor gather at the Strom Auditorium in Camden Hills Regional High School for the Midcoast stop of the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour. So many make the fest tour a part of their midwinter that it has expanded from a one- to two- to, now, three-day event.

“There seemed to be a lot of interest in a third show and we were selling out two shows,” said Jeff Boggs of Maine Sport Outfitters, which has hosted the visitation for 22 years. “We did an online survey to determine interest.”

The results were definitive: 97 out of 100 responses indicated a desire for a third show; 70 percent had a preference for a matinee option; 29 percent of respondents said they would attend all three shows.

“So, we’re taking a shot,” said Boggs. “I must be crazy!”

The crazy hijinks of young extreme sport athletes are part of the draw, but so are films that celebrate older — sometimes, quite a bit older — outdoor enthusiasts. And the tour stop always offers a big-screen, color-saturated introduction to cultures and locations most attendees will never see in person.

This year, the Banff film programs will take place Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 and 9, at 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 10, at 4 p.m. Camden Hills student groups sell refreshments during the intermission that breaks each program into approximately an hour’s screen time each half; and intermission ends with door prizes small and large, drawn from the numbers on the ticket stubs (so make note of where you stash them).

Many viewers come year after year, lending the event a real family vibe — and many of the films themselves share that feeling, whether the family is biological or of a broader connection.

“We gave the Sunday show a little more of a family/kid content, and it will end in time to get folks home at an earlier hour,” Boggs said.

Three shows means the opportunity to take in 24 of the tour’s 36 films, which are selected from the fall’s Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival, held in Banff, Alberta. That annual nine-day event is hosted by Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. All of the most recent fest’s most awarded films will hit the Strom screen, Boggs said, and “the variety of film subjects is what stands out to me this year.”

Those subjects range from the expected down-mountain skiing and snowboarding (and occasional fat tire biking) and up-mountain and rock climbing; to fly fishing, bareback relay horseracing, Outback survival, nomadic journeys and surf photography. The longest film on the Midcoast tour stop runs 44 minutes and the shortest, four minutes. There is one pure animation short, and several use animation as spice in the adventure footage stew.

In expanding this year, the Midcoast joins the Ellsworth site to be the only ones in Maine to host three shows. A week before, Boggs was still putting the pieces in place and recruiting volunteers.

“The other locations in Maine do two, so it definitely is popular here,” he said. “And the time of year is just right for sitting indoors and watching these films!

 

Banff at Strom Feb. 8-10

Friday & Saturday at 7 p.m.

Sunday at 4 p.m.

Tickets are $10 adults, $5 students at the Maine Sport Outfitters stores, Route 1 in Rockport and Main Street in Camden. Advance tickets also are available online at mainesportbanff.brownpapertickets.com for $12 and $5, plus the handling fee. And tickets ($12/$5) will be sold at the door at each show, as available.

Following are synopses of the Midcoast selections; note that the schedule is subject to change. Some of the films are rated PG, as noted in the schedule, usually for coarse language and the occasional bit of nudity.

FRIDAY

“Rogue Elements: Corbet’s Couloir” (2017, USA) is a 4-minute Teton Gravity Research clip that this year’s tour host, Jamie Carpenter, calls the best opener of the year. Join pro mountain bikers Casey Brown and Cam McCaul at Jackson Hole as they pull off a Corbet’s drop on two wheels.

“Fast Horse” (2018, Canada) is a 14-minute verité look at Indian Relay, North America’s original extreme sport. Siksika horseman Allison Red Crow builds a team with secondhand horses and new jockey Cody Big Tobacco so they can take on the best bareback riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy.

“My Mom Vala” (2017, USA) is a 10-minute YETI short narrated by a 9-year-old Icelandic girl and focusing on her mother, part-owner and operator of one of Greenland's most scenic lodges. They are separated often, but fly-fishing keeps them tight.

“Surviving the Outback” (2018, Australia) is a 44-minute edit of Michael Atkinson’s self-filmed solo expedition trek through remote bush country, inspired by a historic survival tale. Action, drama, humor and crocodiles — this one has it all.

Intermission

“The Moment” (2018, Canada) is a 15-minute edit of Darcy Tennessey Turenne’s feature-length doc about the origin of free ride mountain biking in the backwoods of British Columbia. “Lots of crashes,” promised Carpenter.

“Brothers of Climbing” (2018, USA) is 7-minute REI Presents film about BOC, an organization tackling diversity in rock climbing. Co-founder Mikhail Martin said when he typed, “Are there black climbers?” into Google, someone in a forum said, “Black people don’t climb.” Well, they do.

“Liv Along the Way” (2018, Canada) is a 22-minute portrait of Liv Sansoz, who first summited Mont Blanc as a teen and has made a life in the mountains. At age 40, she sets out from her base in Chamonix, France, with the goal to climb all 82 of the 4,000-meter peaks in the European Alps in a single year.

“The Frenchy” (2018, USA) is Michelle Smith’s 13-minute appreciation of Jacques, an 82-year-old badass athlete and this year's audience favorite, according to Carpenter, who has been on the tour for two months-plus.

SATURDAY

“Dreamride 3” (2018, Canada) is a fun 6-minute opener from the popular web series and Banff perennial. This year’s mountain bike short is inspired by Dr. Seuss.

“Grizzly Country” (2018, USA) is a 12-minute visit with Vietnam vet Doug Peacock, an author and eco-warrior (model for the character of Hayduke in Edward Abbey’s novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang”) who spent years alone in the Wyoming and Montana wilderness observing grizzly bears.

“Far Out: Kai Jones” (2018, USA) is a 5-minute clip from the latest Teton Gravity Research film that makes for a “great little ski short featuring an 11-year-old phenom ripping it up at Jackson Hole,” said Carpenter.

“This Mountain Life: Coast Range Traverse” (2018, Canada) is a good chunk (39 minutes) of a multiple fests-selected film anchored by a mother-daughter team’s six-month traverse in the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, “an epic ski touring adventure,” said Carpenter.

Intermission

“Surface” (2018, USA) is a 7-minute break from winter, thanks to the unique perspectives of Tahiti-based surf photographer Ben Thouard.

“Brotherhood of Skiing” (2018, USA) is a 10-minute look at the movement that brought soul to the mountains, “an interesting and cheerful look at the African-American ski experience,” said Carpenter.

“For the Love of Mary” (2018, USA) offers six minutes with “this year's favorite nonagenarian,” George Arthur Etzweiler, running to the summit of Mt. Washington with his lucky green shorts and a lot of heartfelt memories.

“Ice and Palms” (2018, Germany) caps the night with 32 minutes of self-powered adventure across the Alps. Friends Jochen Mesle and Max Kroneck spend five weeks bikepacking, summiting mountains and skiing some iconic lines.

SUNDAY

“Sacred Strides” (2018, USA) is a 12-minute documentary about a group of Native American tribes putting their differences aside to unite and run almost 800 miles to Bears Ears National Monument, rallying to protect sacred lands.

“The Beaver Believers: Meet Sherri Tippie” (2018, USA) is 12 minutes of a feature documentary dedicated to a hairdresser who has found her passion: live-trapping and relocating beavers, to save the watersheds of the American West. Carpenter calls it a great little environment film with “lots of cute critters.”

“Boy Nomad” (2018, Canada) runs 21 minutes and takes viewers to Mongolia’s Altai Mountains. Nine-year-old Janibek’s father brings his cheerful son on the toughest journey in a nomad’s life: the winter migration. And this winter is a killer.

Intermission

“RJ Ripper” (2018, USA) is 19 minutes with Nepal's best mountain biker. The chaotic streets of Kathmandu may not seem a typical breeding ground for world-class mountain bikers, but nothing is typical about Rajesh (RJ) Magar and his beat-up clunker.

“Viacruxis” (2018, Spain) is an 11-minute stop-motion film from Catalonia about a legendary pair of mountaineers. Carpenter said the short is creative and funny and “kids love it.”

“Reel Rock 12: Break on Through” (2017, USA) is a 26-minute entry from the longrunning fest/tour devoted to climbing. Margo Hayes, originally from Boulder, Colo., moves to Europe to train, climb and push her body and mind to the limit. The 21-year-old “kills it in this well-made and entertaining rock climbing film,” said Carpenter.

“Skier vs. Drone” (2018, Canada) caps the 2109 tour stop with a 4-minute race to the finish line between 2018 Olympic Bronze Medalist skier racer Victor Muffat-Jeandet; and two-time World Drone Racing Champion Jordan Temkin.

 

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