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Fall into Banff

By Frank Ruggiero (

Article Published: Sep. 12, 2013 | Modified: Sep. 22, 2013
Fall into Banff

The film, ‘Huck,’ tells the story of Evan Garcia, who considers both the risks and rewards of a life driven by big waterfalls.
Photo from the film, ‘Huck’ © Andy Maser

A ticket to the Banff Mountain Film Festival is like a ticket to the world.

From the snow-capped peak of Mt. Denali to the treacherous slopes of El Capitan to the frozen deserts of Antarctica, the celebrated festival brings some of the planet’s most extreme locales — and those who brave them — to the silver screen.

And for the 17th year, they’ll find their way to Appalachian State University for one of the most popular — and already sold-out — stops on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. The screenings take place Sept. 20 and 21.

“Boone has to be one of the most appreciative and enthusiastic audiences that we play to on the tour,” said Seana Strain, Banff world tour coordinator, in a previous interview. “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.”

The film festival, founded in 1976, is one of the flagship programs of The Banff Centre, based in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and described on its website as “the largest arts and creativity incubator on the planet.”

The festival was started when a tight-knit group of outdoors enthusiast sought an annual entertainment that would entertain during the shoulder season between climbing and skiing, the description reads.

“I love that this event 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.”

One of those corners is Boone, where Rich Campbell, director of ASU Outdoor Programs, helps coordinate the local screenings.

Typically held in March, the High Country tour stop was postponed due to the extensive renovations of Farthing Auditorium, now called the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. The festival stop will return to its regular schedule for the 2013-14 world tour in March 2014.

“It’s always been a fun place to see film, but I think it’ll probably be one of the better places now,” Campbell said of the Schaefer Center, noting that the 16 selected films will be shown in high definition. “We’ve got a fantastic screen, the audio has been beefed up, and the sightlines are just amazing.”

Per tradition, some of the featured filmmakers will make an appearance to discuss their work. On Friday, Sept. 20, filmmakers Benjamin Jordan and Godfrey Masauli will present their film, “The Boy Who Flies,” the story of two men who aim to paraglide from Mt. Mulanje, the highest peak in Malawi, Africa. According to the film’s description, “Things go well until they discover that one has taken on a little more than he has bargained for — and the other has never learned to paraglide.”

Jordan and Masauli will also host an introduction to paragliding workshop from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 21, at the Tater Hill Paragliding Open competition area just outside of Boone, followed by a question-and-answer session from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Footsloggers courtyard in downtown Boone.
Both events are free and open to the public.

“It’s really going to be quite fun to have Benjamin and Godfrey here,” Campbell said. “This will be the first time Benjamin has been in the U.S., and Boone will be his first taste of it.”

Both nights’ screenings start at 7:30 p.m. sharp, so Campbell encourages folks to come early. Live music will start at 6:30 p.m., and vendors and informational booths will also be on hand for pre-festival entertainment.

“I think part of what’s so fun about this event is even if you can’t relate to someone following a dream of climbing this rock or starting a paragliding school, it’s a great metaphor for just following whatever your passion is,” Campbell said. “And for us, it’s a great way to encourage people to develop a relationship with the natural world in some way. All of the themes here can let us learn a lot about ourselves and each other.”

Strain agrees.

“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.”

For more information on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour and The Banff Centre, visit and For more information on Saturday’s public programs, call (828) 262-4077.

The Lineup
(Films and show times are subject to change)

Friday, Sept. 20

‘Industrial Revolutions’
Special Jury Mention
UK, 2011, 5 minutes
World renowned trials rider Danny MacAskill is at it again, only this time he uses an abandoned ironworks as his playground. Directed by Stu Thomson.

‘The Denali Experiment’
USA, 2011, 16 minutes
Freeride skier Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and big mountain snowboarder Lucas Debari step out of their elements, while heading toward their most ambitious goal: to descend Mt. Denali. But first they must put everything they have into making it to the summit. Directed by Jimmy Chin.

‘The Boy Who Flies’
Canada, 2012, 46 minutes
From opposite corners of the earth, two men are united by a common dream: to be the first to paraglide from Mt. Mulanje, Malawi’s highest peak. Things go well until they discover that one has taken on a little more than he has bargained for — and the other has never learned to paraglide. Directed by Benjamin Jordan.

‘Flow Hunters’ (special edit)
2012, New Zealand, 9 minutes
Some of the world’s best paddlers experience adventure and risk, as they explore New Zealand’s white water. Directed and produced by Jon Forder.

‘1st Afghan Ski Challenge’
Best Film — Mountain Sports
Switzerland, 2011, 17 minutes
In a quiet corner of this conflicted country, gutsy first-time skiers learn to ski through trial by fire. Racing with a true spirit of camaraderie, they take part in the first-ever downhill racing competition in Afghanistan. Directed by Hans-Urs Bachmann.

‘Lily Shreds Trailside’
2011, USA, 4 minutes
Just try to keep up with Lily. Go ahead. We dare you. Directed and produced by Ross Downard.

‘Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0’
Best Film — Climbing
USA, 2012, 33 minutes
Alex Honnold is a bit of an enigma. He’s become known as the boldest soloist of his generation, but how does he balance pure ambition with self-preservation? Honnold wrestles with this question in preparation for his biggest adventure yet — the Yosemite Triple. Directed and produced by Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen and Alex Lowther.

Saturday, Sept. 21

‘The Gimp Monkeys’
USA, 2012, 8 minutes
What has four legs, five arms, and three heads? The Gimp Monkeys. Three friends attempt the first all-disabled ascent of Yosemite’s iconic El Capitan. Directed by Mikey Schaefer.

‘Unicorn Sashimi’
USA, 2012, 6 minutes
This sweet piece of visual and musical poetry builds to a climax of Taiko drumming and swirling snow that will envelope you. Directed by Ben Knight.

‘Mountains in Motion: The Canadian Rockies’ (special edit)
USA, 2012, 10 minutes
This 100-percent human-powered film uses striking time-lapse photography and an original story to bring the landscape center-stage and offers a thrilling new perspective that re-establishes the Canadian Rockies among the finest mountains in the world. Directed and produced by Paul Zizka and Doug Urquhart.

‘Crossing the Ice’
Grand Prize, People’s Choice Award, Best Film — Exploration and Adventure
Australia, 2012, 44 minutes
Australian adventurers James Castrission and Justin Jones dare to tackle the perilous journey across Antarctica to the South Pole and back again, completely unassisted — just two men dragging their food and shelter across 1,140 kilometers of barren ice. Many have tried, and all have failed. After much planning and preparation, Cas and Jonesy arrive to tackle one of the last great Antarctic odysseys, but discover an eerie similarity to Capt. Scott’s race to the South Pole: There’s a Norwegian on the ice. He’s more experienced, he’s tackling the same record, and he has a head start. Directed by Justin Jones.

USA, 2012, 5 minutes
You’ll fall in love with Ernest Wilkinson, one of the last of a vanishing breed of mountain men, as he explains what your best survival tool is. Directed by Samuel Bricker.

USA, 2012, 6 minutes
Evan Garcia considers both the risks and rewards of a life driven by big waterfalls. Directed and produced by Andy Maser.

‘Highway Wilding’ (special edit)
Canada, 2012, 13 minutes
Build them, and they will live. That is the simple message in this short documentary that looks at the issue of wildlife and highways — and some of the pioneering solutions that exist to prevent road kill and reconnect landscapes. After seeing this film, you’ll never drive down a highway the same way again. Directed and produced by Leanne Allison.

‘Strength in Numbers’ (special edit)
Canada, 2012, 15 minutes
The world of mountain biking has many communities. And while different riders follow different lines, they all end up in the same place. Tire to ground, foot to pedal, hand to bar — people drawn together by trails of dirt. Directed by Darcy Wittenburg.

‘Reel Rock 7: Wide Boyz’
Best Short Mountain Film
USA, 2012, 12 minutes
Meet U.K. off-width crack climbing specialists Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall, who train hard and play harder. Wide Boyz is about suffering in a dodgy Sheffield basement, the ethics of style and big payoffs in the Southwestern U.S. From the feature film by Paul Diffley & Chris Alstrin. Special version created by Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, Josh Lowell and Alex Lowther.

Additional Images

The film, ‘Huck,’ tells the story of Evan Garcia, who considers both the risks and rewards of a life driven by big waterfalls.
Photo from the film, ‘Huck’ © Andy Maser

‘Reel Rock 7: Wide Boyz’ introduces viewers to off-width crack climbing specialists Pete
Whittaker and Tom Randall.
Photo from the film, ‘Reel Rock 7: Wide Boyz’ © Alex Ekins

The award-winning documentary, ‘Crossing the Ice,’ tells the story of two men on a trek to the South Pole and back again.
Photo from the film, ‘Crossing the Ice’

‘Lily Shreds Trailside’ will be screened Friday, Sept. 20, at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour stop at ASU.
Photo from the film, ‘Lily Shreds Trailside’

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