An evening of watching adventure films always provides a wealth of thrills and inspiration – and last night’s collection of movies at the 10th anniversary Banff Mountain Film Festival was no different. In fact, I found many of the films even more engaging than many of those in previous years.
There was the 11-year-old skier Kai in the film Far Out: Kai Jones that revealed the breath-taking skills and daredevil of such a young person. How incredible to have such confidence at such a young age and to be able to enjoy the full range of the backcountry mountains of America. I will only ever dream of being able to ski like Kai.
The short film Viacruxis was next. It told the story of Marcel and Andrezj, two legendary mountaineers, who aim to be the first climb the hardest and highest peaks.
What was unusual – and spell-binding – was that the film was an animation (it took 18 months to make, apparently) that was both wonderfully clever and very funny. I won’t tell you anymore because it’s best to see it for yourself.
Ascend was quite simply inspiring. How does Jon Wilson manage to ride his mountain bike with one leg and with such skill and expertise? The film gave me a lot to think about throughout the 11 minutes. Never again will I become frustrated when I can’t manage a climb or rocky section on my mountain bike.
The first half of the tour evening was rounded up with a longer film, This Mountain Life: Coast Range Traverse, which told the story of Martina and her 60-year-old mum Tania who embark on an ski traverse from Vancouver to Alaska.
It took them six months and 2,300km of journeying though relentless mountain wilderness to do so.
I was struck by the fantastic landscapes of British Columbia, Canada; the relationship between mum and daughter; and Tania’s incredible gnarliness. At one point she said: “Don’t ever think you are too old to do something because you are not.” I really liked that, especially as it fits so neatly with my popular Fit Over 50 series.
A short break in the films
What I really like about the mountain film festivals that come to Scotland is how many people I know and bump into before, after and during the intermission. It’s always good to catch a quick hello or to spend a little more time finding out how people are.
More great films to enjoy
When the second half started with the film How to run 100 Miles, my first thought was, “So what? I know plenty of people who have run 100 miles, or close to it, in a race, especially those who have completed the West Highland Way Race.”
Of course, my world is slightly skewed because I write about these extraordinary people a lot of the time and, further more, running 100 miles in one go is a very impressive feat.
What made this film come to life was the characters. Jayson Sime had a tough start to life, growing up in poverty and with dyslexia and subsequent school bullying.
The story tells how Jayson learnt to fight – and how he encouraged his friend, who doesn’t much like running, to join him in his first 100-mile mountain ultramarathon, including a daunting 6,000m of ascent, Run Rabbit Run in Colorado’.
It’s a great film and ultimately very uplifting.
Ice and Palms came next. It was one of those stories that at first perplexes – how do you think up something like that? And why? – but then plays out to be a great tale of friendship and a common quest for something out of the ordinary.
German friends Max and Jochen decide to ride 1800km through the Alps, up and down many mountain passes, from Germany to reach the Mediterranean.
En route, they ski numerous iconic lines.
Amazingly, they carry all their cycling and ski kit with them – and hundreds of cereal bars for fuelling! – over the five-week “holiday”. I can’t get my head around the chore of cycling with a bike weighed down by 50kg but they seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
The final film was just four minutes and seemed rather bizarre. Skier versus Drone documented a race between, you guessed it, a skier and a drone.
To be honest, I had no idea that there was such a thing as drone racing, but it seems it’s popular in America.
The downhill slalom race was between and Olympic bronze medallist skier and a top drone racer. I’ll let you found out who won when you head along to the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which continues to tour the UK until May 2019.
Just to note, we saw the “red” films. There is also a collection of “blue” films that are shown on different nights.
To find out where the tour goes next and for tickets, see Banff Mountain Film Festival 2019.