Countdown to Banff
The anticipated Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour (BMFFWT) stops in Boone for two nights on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2.
"Boone is one of the top attended festivals in North America, maybe the world," Paul Price, on-site coordinator and road warrior for BMFFWT, said. "It is one of the top destinations on the road for us in terms of how well done it is and how enthusiastic the crowd is. Just the whole feel and vibe of each evening is spectacular."
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the BMFFWT in Boone, and Appalachian State University Outdoor Programs wants to turn this year's film festival into a celebration.
Before the screenings, there will be live music. Also, there will be vendors, such as Bald Guy Brew, and "really cool" T-shirts. On Friday night, Anson Fogel, the director of "WildWater," a Banff favorite, will introduce his movie.
"Another thing that is pretty cool is we are going to have peregrine falcons and northern saw-whet owls from the Blue Ridge Wildlife Institute," Rich Campbell, associate director of ASU Outdoor Programs, said. "We want to bring a little bit of the natural environment to everybody that is coming,"
The Appalachian Adventure Achievement Award (A4) and Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition winners will be announced on stage at Farthing Auditorium, too.
"One of the things we want to do is personalize this as much as possible," Campbell said. "That's why we create the photo competition and bring in filmmakers and bring the wilderness into the festival.
(We want to) make the Banff Mountain Film Festival a celebration of the High Country."
Fifteen years ago, before there were any screenings in North Carolina, ASU Outdoor Programs brought the film festival to I.G. Greer Auditorium. Eventually, the festival outgrew the small theater, and the film series moved to Farthing Auditorium, where for the past five years more than 1,700 people have sold out the event.
Mike and Susan Trew, of Boone, have been going to Banff since the beginning, only missing one year because of the birth of their second child.
"I'm real psyched," Mike Trew said. "It's always a lot of fun. The films are great, and I get to see my buddies who come out for it. Just good films that get you excited and make you want to go out and do things."
Over the years, several films have stuck out in his mind. "Man Who Jumped Beneath the Earth" is one of them.
"These guys found this big cave in Mexico," Trew said. "It was over 1,000 feet deep, and they jumped off the edge, pulling their parachute and landing at the bottom of the cave. Then they went up in helicopters above the hole and free fell all the way down into the earth before they pulled their parachute. I thought that was pretty wild."
Abby Willis, of Boone, has been going to Banff for at least 12 years now.
"I make a point to go to Banff," she said. "It is on my priority list. I don't miss Banff."
One of her favorite films is "Finding Farley," where a couple took their 2-year-old son on a canoe trip through Canada to find literary legend Farley Mowat. She enjoys the diverse nature of the films, whether they are about adrenaline junkies or indigenous tribes.
"When I see the climbing, skiing, kayaking, I get blown away by the stuff that people do," Willis said. "When it comes to the cultural films, I absolutely love those. It's an opportunity to learn about different cultures and societies. It is stuff that I never realized happened on earth."
The film festival tour originated in Banff, located in Alberta, Canada. Its mission is to inspire creativity and to document the adventurous exploration of the mountains and their culture and environment, through a lens.
"We are really in a special place, in terms of geography, geology, recreation, culture and music. People live here because of that," Campbell said. "I think a film festival that revolves around those themes really resonates with people in this community."
The proceeds of the festival go to ASU Outdoor Programs, so adventures are more accessible to students. The proceeds go into a fund to offset the cost of their extended trips to places like New Zealand.
"Our mission (at Outdoor Programs) is to get people outside and inspire them to do their own adventures, and the film festival does that in a fantastic way," Campbell said. "That's why we started it 15 years ago."
Farthing Auditorium hosts the BMFFWT on Friday, April 1, and Saturday, April 2. The festival starts at 7:30 both nights. Advanced tickets are recommended, as screenings usually sell out. Tickets are on sale at Footsloggers (139 S. Depot St.) in downtown Boone and at Farthing Auditorium on the ASU campus.
Deadline for A4 nomination submissions is March 18.
For more information about the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour or to nominate someone for the A4, click to http://www.op.appstate.edu.
Voting for the eighth annual Footsloggers People's Choice Award began on Friday, March 4, at 5 p.m. and ends on Friday, April 1, at 5 p.m. Winners will be announced at the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Visit the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts to view photos and click to http://www.appmtnphotocomp.org to vote on your favorite.