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Our 6 favorite films at the Banff Mountain Film Festival

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The annual Banff Mountain Film Festival, held in the scenic Canadian mountain town, is a celebration of creativity in the outdoor film world today. This year’s edition started on October 29 and will continue this weekend – if you weren’t able to attend in person, you can purchase a pass online to screen the films digitally, our expectation for the tour world comes to a town or city near you. Banff also kicks off awards and festival seasons, so keep those movies on your radar.


Vacation in Baffin (13 mins)

“Consider taking your beloved to Baffin Island, she’s literally surrounded by nothing,” the deadpan narrator says in the Wes Anderson-esque intro to Vacation in Baffin. In the film, lovers Erik Boomer, a famous expedition kayaker, and Sarah McNair-Landry, the youngest person to visit the North and South Poles, embark on a 70-day expedition to the heart of Baffin Island. in the Canadian Arctic, crossing soon-to-melt ice caps, climbing huge mountains and paddling the first descents. The two shot everything in the film themselves and captured both stunning scenery and their own real-life emotions. We see McNair-Landry waiting in a whirlwind as Boomer navigates a massive, never-before-paddled waterfall. She tries to calm her own nerves and support her partner as she struggles with the fear of what might happen and the reality of the distance between them and help. The film is both funny and raw.

Beyond Begbie (15 minutes)

“We put names to places that have to do with the land, you’ll never find an Indigenous place name that has a person’s name on it,” says Shelly Boyd, a leader of Sinixt First Nations people, in Beyond Begbie. The film features Indigenous athletes and guides uncovering the colonization of the Canadian Rockies and the legacy of white settlers who wiped out Indigenous populations and named peaks and other landmarks. He takes a closer look at Mount Begbie, the peak that overlooks the town of Revelstoke. It is named after Sir Matthew Begbie, a judge known for sentencing Aboriginal men to death. Names matter, argue Boyd and others, and we can’t get out of colonialism until we excise the ghosts of the place names around us.

sheri (24 mins)

Carrier rafts have become so ubiquitous in river racing that you might not realize that the modern iteration of the raft was developed relatively recently by a middle-aged mother battling chronic fatigue syndrome. “I’ve taken a lot of beatings from people – I’m an older woman and I build boats,” says Sheri Tingey, the founder of Alpacka Rafts. “I decided to let the boats speak for themselves.” In sheri, Tingey, who was also a top skier, clothing company founder and kayaker, describes the misogyny and dismissal she faced, as well as the motivation that kept her going. The funniest parts of the movie are the snippets of his community and co-workers, including his son, Thor, who now runs the company. They highlight what a fun, weird, and ruthless iconoclast she is.

Approach 2 (23 mins)

Until recently ski stoke movies were often an outdated repository of white dude send off plans, but thankfully that’s starting to change. The filmmakers bring more diversified skiers and a necessary dose of lightness, humor and reality. The opening scene of Approach 2 lets know that the film is part of this movement. It starts with adaptive skier Anna Soens stomping through soft powder on a sit-ski, and making you realize that one of the benefits of the device is face shots. The film has a lot of serious skiing – for example, Washington skier Sophia Rouches hacks the infamous Mount Baker Road Gap, then heads straight to Alaska for some great lines – but it also needs context on how it can be hard to break into the skiing world as someone who doesn’t fit the mold of able-bodied white guys. “That’s the thing with adaptive sports, we’re constantly adapting,” says Vasu Sojitra, one of the skiers featured in the film.

deep in the heart (100 mins)

When I think of Texas, wildlife isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, but deep in the heart showed me that my conception of the state was narrow and erroneous. The film is narrated by actor Matthew McConaughey, whose suave tones border on pornography as he begins to talk about deer rut season. It’s lush, visually stunning and surprising. The film talks extensively about restoration and conservation: how endangered species like bison have come back from the brink of annihilation; how the almost mythical ocelot became so rare; and how people can make the future of wildlife diversity less bleak. It covers the geographic expanse of the state, from the high plains to the ocean, and it looks like David Attenborough’s Earth, if Texas was the whole planet.

The Hermit of Treig (78 mins)

The outside world often romances hermits. We like a remote cabin and a fire watcher. But we don’t often talk about what happens when people on their own get older and need support. The moving film from director Lizzie MacKenzie, The Hermit of Treig, is about Ken Smith, a Scottish hermit who lived for 40 years in a long cabin on the shore of distant Lake Trieg. We see Smith, who is over 70, working through the beautiful and painful parts of living alone on earth, and pondering what the rest of his time on earth might look like.

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