The Banff Mountain Film Festival 2018 tour returned to The Festival Theatre Edinburgh today with two film programmes – an afternoon blue programme and an evening red programme. I was at the evening red programme, and one of the pleasures of the past few years that I have been reviewing this Festival (and its sister one The Ocean Film Festival) is watching how attendance numbers have rapidly increased year on year. This is the busiest attendance that I have seen to date with The Festival Theatre packed and all three levels of seating full. Still however, despite the increase in numbers, that comfortable feeling of friends meeting up to enjoy a shared passion together was still everywhere in the theatre.
The Red Programme tonight screened seven films, and as always they ranged from shorts to documentary length productions covering personal and group achievements, tales of everyday life, wonderful people and the wonder of the young at heart. Banff Mountain Film Festival has a very good website of its own that covers all of these films (and the Blue Programme) in detail along with many clips, so it is easier to just give you their website address at
Giving you all the website link is easier for me as a reviewer because I have limited space here to write, and I want to concentrate a little bit more this year on the people that make up the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Every year, the films are always different with beautiful photography and images of a beautiful planet that most of us will only ever experience through screenings like these. At the heart of every film though are people, and it is their spirit, their wonder and sheer joy of life and everything around them that I always find the most inspiring. I often leave these screenings feeling that they are living their lives in full colour and I am living mine in black and white.
What about the people coming to see the films though? Well, if you have any stereotype image of what someone who would come to a mountain film festival would look like (rugged, outdoor, big back pack over their shoulders types maybe) then forget it. Always at every film festival I go to the audience are a wide diversity of ages and types; there is no such a stereotype as a “Mountain Film Festival” person. Many, like myself, are probably not climbers or go anywhere near mountains, but go to see truly wonderful images of our wonderful world.
Banff Mountain Film Festival and Banff Ocean Film Festival both have an environmental message too (although it is at times very subtle) and the people in these films obviously have a deep love for the wonderful and truly awe inspiring places that this planet still has to offer and a respect for the sheer power of the forces of nature that they encounter, forces so vast that we are almost insignificant before them. Nature can remind us in a split second who is really in control and how truly small and fragile we all are. Every year though I leave these screenings with mixed feelings of the wonders that I have just seen on screen juxtaposed with the sadness of what we are doing to this planet and its eco systems on an alarming and unprecedented scale. How long will some of these wonders of nature survive our onslaught; will we leave the next generation any wonders to experience and explore?
I have to use this review a little to get a little bit of my own ecology thoughts over here (sorry for that folks) as The Banff Mountain Film Festival is the perfect review space for them. Each of us has our own part to play in the ongoing destruction of our one and only planet, none of us is innocent, and none of us individually has the answers needed to the major global problems, pollution being one of the biggest, and in particular the unimaginably destructive use of plastics in all sizes from micro beads upwards. The best that many of us can do is start to make small changes to the way that we buy and consume our products and resources and hope that if enough of us do this then larger scales of effect can maybe happen and start to change things for the better. For me, single use plastic water bottles and drinks containers are pretty near the top of our planetary pollution list and the figures are staggering -
currently, globally over 400 BILLION plastic bottles are produced every year
1 MILLION EVERY MINUTE
20,000 EVERY SECOND (One major drinks company alone produces over 3,000 a second).
Simply, our planetary eco systems cannot withstand this onslaught any longer. It was with some dismay that I looked around the audience tonight and noticed what appeared to be so many single use plastic bottles being drunk from, and plastic cups available at the interval to put your drinks into for your return into the screenings (I need to find out if the cups are recyclable).
Here are some links from the Guardian and The Independent newspapers that give an insight into the unimaginable scale of the problem.
Banff Mountain Film Festival 2018 is screening in over 45 countries worldwide and the UK & Ireland Tour has over 100 venues on its tour map this year. I make a plea here to the organisers of this and the Ocean Film Festivals to ensure that the venues they use do not use single use plastic cups and also ask everyone attending their screenings not to bring single use plastic bottles into the venue with them, and even better to ask them not to buy them in the first place. Perhaps if enough people stop buying their products in these bottles then the manufacturers will be forced to look at alternatives. Our world is a wonderful and truly magical place to live in, but we have to start treating it with some care and respect or so many of our on screen wonders tonight will not be there in the very near future for anyone to visit. We may be the last generation to witness some of these spectacles of nature if we do not change our ways, and that is a massive responsibility that we all must in some way share the burden of.
No one generation has the right to ruthlessly plunder the resources of this planet and destroy its delicate eco systems for their own personal gain. No one generation owns planet Earth...we should only ever manage its resources and the world around us in a sustainable fashion to hand on to the next generation.
Review by Tom King