Banff to the Future

Article Published: Dec. 15, 2011 | Modified: Mar. 31, 2012
Banff to the Future

‘On Assignment: Jimmy Chin’

Photo by Jimmy Chin

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is looking good this year – literally.

The celebrated showcase is now being presented in high definition, and that includes its stop at Appalachian State University March 30 and 31, 2012.

With tickets now on sale, the festival is gathering excitement within its fan-base, including ASU Outdoor Programs director Rich Campbell.

Outdoor Programs hosts Banff’s stop at ASU, and 2012 marks its 16th festival in Boone.

“The films look really fantastic,” Campbell said. “We try to balance it so a bit of environmental, cultural and adventure films are represented each night. People really like the variety and the flow, in terms of putting together films in such a way it takes you to a lot of different places in given night.”

Places like the Himalayas, as depicted in Anson Fogel’s “Cold,” winner of the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s grand prize. The 19-minute documentary follows climber and photographer Cory Richards, who, with two colleagues, made the first successful winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, an 8,000-meter (more than 26,246 feet) Himalayan peak in Pakistan.

“It’s not a camera crew,” Campbell said. “It’s climbers, and one of the guys (Richards) brings a small camera with him. And Anson Fogel, who’s really a brilliant editor, puts it all together, and it’s a pretty striking film.”

The complete playbill is still being formulated, but confirmed titles presently include “All.I.Can: The Short Cut,” Best Feature-length Mountain Film; “Chasing Water,” Best Short Mountain Film; “Cold,” Grand Prize; and “On Assignment: Jimmy Chin.”

“The films look really impressive, with a really good balance this year,” Campbell said.

That’s no accident. According to Banff world tour coordinator Seana Strain, films are selected based on audience reaction. But it’s a wide audience, first the festival’s pre-screening committee, followed by tour hosts.

“We also look carefully at the feedback we get from the tour audience each year and look for films that reflect the likes of our crowd throughout the tour,” Strain said.

It’s a discerning audience and one that spans the globe, as Banff hosts screenings on all seven continents.

“I love that this even started as a local gathering in a small mountain town and now travels the world, visiting about 350 locations, about 245,000 people, approximately 32 countries, seven continents,” Strain said. “It’s a thrill to look at our Facebook page and see the positive reactions coming from all corners of the world.”

Some reactions can be quite dramatic, Strain said, adding that she and her colleagues receive post cards, emails and comments about how the films have inspired their viewers.

“Some undertake their first big adventures because of a film,” she said. “Some finally plan trips they’ve dreamed of for years, and sometimes people radically change their lives, taking on a new career.”

Sometimes, it’s love at first sight.

“We’ve had people get married to the theme music in our intro video,” Strain said.
When Campbell announced that tickets were on sale for the ASU screenings, fan reaction was widespread, all the way to Germany.

“A woman from Germany has a friend in Lenoir and wanted to get a couple of tickets for him as a Christmas present,” Campbell said. “The festival is definitely well received, and I think it’s because of the mountain culture in the area we call home.”

It’s an area Banff officials enjoying frequenting.

“Boone has to be one of the most appreciative and enthusiastic audiences that we play to on the tour,” Strain said. “Our staff love coming to Boone. The array of themes in the films seems to speak to this community. They enjoy a wide range of film subjects, from adrenaline sports to cultural journeys. The diversity of interests makes Boone a wonderful tour stop.”

Campbell said Banff staff members know the High Country – and its interests – well.

“In some cases, they’ll actually recommend a film that doesn’t do well, say, in Atlanta, but think the Boone audience will really appreciate it … They know our community.”

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to Appalachian State University Friday and Saturday, March 30 and 31, 2012. Each night features different films. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $7 for students and are available at Footsloggers, located at 139 S. Depot St. in downtown Boone, and the Farthing Auditorium box office, at 733 Rivers St. on the ASU campus.

During the festival, ASU Outdoor Programs will also announce the winners of its Appalachian Adventure Achievement Award, otherwise known as “A4,” and the ninth annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition. For more information, visit

About the Banff Centre

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is hosted annually by the Alberta, Canada-based Banff Centre, located within Canada’s Banff National Park. The center describes itself as “Canada’s creative leader in arts and culture,” its mission being to inspire creativity.

According to its website, “In our powerful mountain setting … exceptional artists and leaders from around the world create and perform new works of art, share skills and knowledge in an interdisciplinary environment, explore ideas and develop solutions in the arts, leadership and the environment.”

For more information, visit

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