Banff Mountain Film Festival 2019 Festival Theatre Edinburgh Review Saturday 19th January 2019

With Edinburgh Entertainment & Arts

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The Banff Mountain Film Festival UK & Ireland Tour made its usual January stop-off at The Festival Theatre Edinburgh today with two programmes of screenings – The Blue event screenings in the afternoon, and the Red event evening screenings that I was watching for this review.   This is a bit of a special year for The Banff Mountain Film Festival though as this 2018/2019 tour is their 10th anniversary one, and the fact that this evening’s screening was sold out is both a clear indicator of how popular this event has become and an appropriate birthday present for the organisers of the festival.  The earlier afternoon event also had very few tickets left.  When you take into account that The Festival Theatre has a seating capacity of a little under 2,000, that is a lot of tickets to sell for a one day film screening event.

Like any previous year, the films screened are a diverse range and running times vary from 3 or 4 minutes to 30 minutes or longer, and this year’s Red selection included

SKIER VS DRONE

HOW TO RUN 100 MILES

VIACRUXIS

THIS MOUNTAIN LIFE

FAR OUT: KAI JONES

ICE & PALMS

ASCEND

This film festival is still touring, so I tend always to focus on one or two films to review rather than all of them as I want people who have still to see them to have some surprises left at their screenings.  Also, the Film Festival has its own informative website at https://www.banff-uk.com/films for anyone wanting to know far more about the films than this review can possible cover.

Out of all the films this evening, the most unusual has to be the “Stop motion” animated film of two legendary mountaineers, Marcel and Andrezj, attempting to reach the summit of their dream peak – VIACRUXIS.   This charming short film (11 minutes) took over 18 months to complete and although very different from the usual “Banff” screening, it has an appeal that will endear itself to many audiences worldwide with many recognising someone they know in Marcel and Andrezj.

Banff Mountain Film Festival always brings to us the wonders of nature that are out there waiting for any of us to explore further if we just have the will to step outside of our normal daily routines, and every year I leave these screenings in awe of the wonders of nature and many of the people that push themselves to their own personal limits in often harsh environments.

There is often a dual exploration in these films as the journey is often not only about the natural surroundings that our adventurers find themselves in, but also about a far deeper exploration of their inner self as they test their physical and mental endurances to their limits and, in so doing, often find inner reserves that take them far beyond where they once thought possible.  Sharing this outer and inner exploration with another person is also something very special to be able to do, and one film highlighting this perfectly is “THIS MOUNTAIN LIFE” (38 minutes),  a multi-award-winning film about a mother and daughter adventure that follows the two as they leave their home in the high mountain peaks of British Columbia, Canada to embark upon an epic ski traverse from Vancouver to Alaska that will take travel over 2,300km and take six months to complete their journey.  Along the way, Martina and her 60-year-old mother Tania encounter the mountains that they both love so much, an ice bridge, wonderful landscapes and a lot of cold, winds, snow and discomfort as they chose to do this adventure in the winter.

This is a story of mother and daughter bonding together and finding new things out about one another as much as it is about the physical journey itself.  Tania is, as we find out in this story, a woman of enormous physical strength and mental determination, and anyone who decided to embark upon a perilous escape journey from Russian occupied Czechoslovakia whilst also pregnant is clearly no stranger to hardships or the sheer will that it takes to succeed on such a journey as this.

Our other films also give us windows into how connections with nature at a very early age (FAR OUT: KAI JONES) can make a bond that never breaks, or how the outdoors can be a place of almost tranquil connectivity to nature after personal adversity in - ASCEND.

ICE & PALMS is also an interesting film that follows the well established “road movie” format as two friends Max and Jochen spend five weeks together sharing their favourite pleasures of cycling and skiing in a 1,800km and 35,000 vertical metres adventure that takes them from Germany to Nice.

Our final two films, HOW TO RUN 100 MILES and SKIER VS DRONE are pretty much what their titles suggest, but who wins the last race, skier or drone?  I’m not telling you the answer to that one.

I have been reviewing this film festival, and its sister film festival, The Ocean Film Festival for a few years now, and it has been a pleasure to not only watch both festivals grow in attendance numbers here in Edinburgh every year, but somehow in that increase in popularity, still maintain the warm and friendly atmosphere of the people that attend both festivals.

 

Review by Tom King

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