3.03.2004

MOVIE REVIEW: BANFF MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL

Banff Film Festival at National Geographic

Head to the middle of this page, BANFF Film Festival, for clips
nothing shy of inspirational

this year they have broken free of the stereotype of the ADRENALIN JUNKIE films and created another festival catering to that genera, RADICAL REELS

This event sells out every year.
It is a must see in any town. Whether you are an adrenalin junkie pushing the limits of your sport, a world traveler, or an Olympic level Couch Potato...these films will get you pumped and inspired. Just as a Jean Claude Van Damm movie leads it viewers to leave the theater thinking that they are ready for a Kung Fu Gang War....these films make us all think that we can drop any cliff on our skis or boards, paraglide off our garage, or climb any mountain or rock face, or ride our bikes down any rocky descent.

The variety of films last night covered a spectrum of variety that entertained for nearly three hours as if it were three minutes, never did a film drag. All who attended were entertained and inspired.


FOCUSED was film one....
A big mountain skier rides steeps and deeps pushing his personal limits and the limits of the sport only to take it one step further. His personal narrations read like a script for an Owen Wilson character, to sum it up in his words...."I live it and I rip it!" and his actions backed up his words. Not only was he riding the unridable terrain, but his choice of equipment was as colorful as his persona. After many comments that the shape of his skis closely resembled water skis, he opted to put some ski bindings on some water skis, then later in the film he had a snowboard on each foot, then a snowboard mounted like a monoski, but that was all very subtle. The rocks, the drops, the avalanches around him were more the focal point. The camera perspective was normally from a helicopter, but it switched to a helmet cam, it was all more than a mortal like myself could grasp. The rides were epic, limitless, he was clearly FOCUSED. Then, just when you think you have seen it all. He offers the question of "What is next in Big Mountain skiing?".....and he opts to take the line that is not a line and shoots right off a cliff.....then another cliff...again....and again....pulling out a parachute and gliding safely away. This was the perfect start to a night of films after a day of work....got the heart pumping....woke up the crowd....got everyone pumped.
The title is something that should help people appreciate that these athletes are not just slamming a Red Bull (Mountain Dew is OUT,) crossing their fingers, and hoping for the best. Focus backed up by the pinnacle skill level are vital to attempt any of these maneuvers.

The tone shifted drastically with the next film, SISTER EXTREME, a mockumentary. It was 15 minutes into the film before I realized that this was a mockumentary and not an actual documentary. It was dry and humorous and quite a break from many of the climbing films that display the heroics of superhuman demigods.

The next film moved to a more serious film with a more sociological work, A Man Called Nomad. This 44 minute tale told the story of a young nomad of northeastern china, born a nomad into an ever changing world. How his life sculpts his identity, and his frustration as he tries to grow with the times. It was a beautiful story of a complex life in a changing world, showing the clash of modern world with the old world of the Nomad. Definitely worth checking out a clip on this one. It was a beautiful moving piece that offered much chance for insight into our own lives as we try to figure out our different yet also changing world. Too much to say on this without you the reader having seen this film....
I walked away thinking....
this man must be no more than 25....we grow up slow in the Western World

Biscuit was a three minute short about a tenacious terrier that has taken on bouldering and climbing rather than chasing frisbees and sticks. A lighthearted piece that was a feel good viewing, well other than the moments were the theater was on the edge of their seat watching, waiting, and fearing the inevitable fall of this small little Jack Russell Terrier. And yes, Biscuit did fall, but he was able to recover and not get hurt and approached the same climb and overcame it. This was a basic feel good piece from a production company that had one of my favorites from the year prior, URBAN APE, Tim O'Neil climbs anything and everything in his hometown of Boulder.

Then the evening of films came to a close with an unlikely sport topic for a mountain film festival, soccer. THE OTHER FINAL, is a film that documents the events leading up to a soccer contest held between the worst two teams in the FIFA international league, a contest between the countries of Montserrat and Bhutan. The characters of each country are as different as the lands they come from. The islanders of Montserrat are cocky and vain, while the mountain people of the diminutive mountain nation of Bhutan are humble and kind. It was a gathering of cultures. The film was wonderfully produced by a Dutch film maker/World Cup Soccer Fan. It was a high quality production that unfolded as quite a tale. The beautiful backdrop of Bhutan and the characters of each team made for an entertain wrap up to the evening.

Check the Website to see when this film festival is headed to your hometown
and if you missed it this year
catch it next year
you will thank me!



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