Banff and Beyond
Usually, Banff comes to the High Country.
This time, the High Country went to Banff.
Rich Campbell, director of Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs, which hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour annual stop in Boone, journeyed north to Canada last autumn for the 2013 festival, held Oct. 26 to Nov. 3.
Souvenirs aside, Campbell said he brought back a newfound appreciation for how an arts festival can go above and beyond its original intent — know-how he plans to implement in future Banff events in Boone, the next being March 28 and 29.
The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival is hosted annually by the Alberta, Canada-based Banff Centre, located within Canada’s Banff National Park. The center describes itself as the country’s “creative leader in arts and culture,” its mission being to inspire creativity.
According to Campbell, mission accomplished.
“We’ve been hosting this for so long, and they’ve been trying to get me to come up there,” Campbell said. “It was fantastic, and part of it, really, I wanted to see how they run the big festival and if there are ways to improve what we’re doing here — and also just meet a lot of the people I’ve been working with.”
While Banff’s Boone audience has enjoyed the award-winning and nominated films brought to the local screen, the actual festival in Banff — The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival — runs for nine days and, as its name indicates, offers more than just film.
“It starts with a photography competition, then they have a book festival, and then they have the film festival, which are all running back to back and, in some cases, overlapping,” Campbell said.
With Appalachian State already tying its Banff screening to the annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, Campbell said the book component seems well worth exploring.
“The whole book aspect might be a neat extension (for Boone’s screenings) in the future,” Campbell said. “It was something I was aware of, but when I actually saw it, met the authors at workshops and panels they were on, it made me think a little bit differently about what we could do here. A lot of little things here and there encouraged me to continue some of what we’re doing, but also moving in some different directions, which I think might be pretty interesting.”
For starters, that involves more special guests to interact with audience members and students.
“So many of the events were happening at the same time, different workshops and panels that were held in different places, kind of as a lead-up to the (film) festival,” Campbell said. “That would be pretty neat to explore, and I think that’s something we can do, being on a university campus.”
The diversity of events mirrored that of the films screened, of which Campbell estimated roughly 400 were submitted from some 35 countries.
“It was packed,” he said. “There were literally thousands of people up there and probably three quarters of all the films screened had their filmmakers or directors or producers there, so I got to meet a lot of filmmakers.”
Films are prescreened by an international jury, members of which decide on finalists — a healthy 85 to 100 films, Campbell estimated, which are screened for attendees.
“If they screened one you wanted to see before you got there … there’s an on-demand screening room up there,” he said. “So, for someone like me who presents the festival, I could go in and take a look at all the films.”
In the past, Campbell and company would select films for the Boone screening based on recommendations from his Banff colleagues, press materials, trailers, the occasional screener and even purchased DVDs.
“It really does make it so much easier,” Campbell said. “Being able to see most of the films will help quite a bit in putting together the (Boone) festival.”
Approximately 17 films will be screened at the Boone event, most running at the eight- or nine-minute mark, with one feature-length presentation per night.
“One thing that was emphasized to me was how they paired different films, in looking for a really good balance in terms of the type of athletes or the type of story that is screened, even the different places they go,” Campbell said. “I think our audience really enjoys a balanced screening, with so many people interested in so many different things, from fly fishing to driving on the parkway to skiing. We’re really trying to appeal to all the different people in our community.”
While the final lineup is still in development, Campbell mentioned eight titles that will more than likely make their way to Boone. March 28’s audience can expect “Cascada,” a film that follows paddlers and cinematographers as they explore “a world beyond the unexpected” and “find perfection.”
“Ready to Fly” recounts the arduous 15-year battle to achieve equality in the Olympic Winter Games, specifically following the award-winning Lindsey Van and the U.S. women’s ski jumping team.
A special edit of “The Last Great Climb” chronicles “rock star climbers” Leo Houlding, Sean “Stanley” Leary, Jason Pickles and others in their attempt to scale Ulvetanna Peak, a remote spire in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica.
“Dubai — A Skier’s Journey” brings the sport indoors, telling the tale of Dubai’s community of ski bums.
Probable features for the Saturday, March 29, lineup include “North of the Sun,” the story of two Norwegian adventurers who discover their own private playground on the coast of a remote, arctic island.
“Spice Girl (Reel Rock 8)” follows Hazel Findlay, the first woman to climb the British grade of E9.
A special edit of “Keeper of the Mountains” presents the tale of Elizabeth Hawley, who chronicles Himalayan expeditions for The Himalayan Database — at the age of 90.
An excerpt of “Into the Mind” showcases what Banff calls “incredible imagery, amazing skiing and stunning scenery.”
Campbell said that the remaining films will be announced as the festival draws nearer.
Tickets and More
Tickets have already gone on sale at Footsloggers (139 Depot St.) and the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts (733 Rivers St.) in Boone and cost $8 for ASU students and $12 for general admission.
The March 27 and 28 screenings will take place at the Schaefer Center, as will a special March 26 screening for area youth, presented through Appalachian’s APPlause! Series.
For more information on the youth screening, visit http://www.theschaefercenter.org/applause. For more information on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, visit https://op.appstate.edu/pagesmith/185 and http://www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/worldtour/.