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Since its conception in 1976, the Banff Film Festival has hosted icons such as Sir Edmond Hillary and Jon Krakauer. That first year was solely a one-day event celebrating climbing films. Today, it brings visitors from all over the world for nine days of the planet’s most engaging outdoor films, including one night’s “Snow Show” to showcase skiing films. In the next few days, selected films will begin travel to 32 countries (including Antarctica) for the 635 screenings that make up the Banff Film Festival World Tour. Check out if the tour is coming to you.
Produced and directed by Carbondale, Colorado, local Anson Fogel, Cold is the portrayal of Cory Richard’s winter expedition up Pakistan’s Gasherbrum II and the brutally raw, cold, and disturbing reality of February at 26,362 feet. The film won the Grand Prize, the Best Mountain Film in Climbing category, and the Audio Post Production Scholarship. It wasn’t just the outside air temperature the week of the festival. Cold was a dominating theme in many respects.
The festival’s unofficial standing ovation award goes to Mike Douglas’ portrayal of a friend and skier, Josh Dueck, who was paralyzed in 2004 at age 23 while working as a freestyle coach. A shortened version of Freedom Chair is the fifth episode of Salomon Freeski TV’s season five. The Banff screening ended with an immediate explosion of clapping and energy from the crowd in Banff’s Eric Harvey Theatre. In addition, Freedom Chair won the Best Film in Mountain Sports of which Mike Douglas donated the $2,000 prize to the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Program. Please don’t miss this one. It is better than any ski movie out there.
Narrated to Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, the newest movie from Sweetgrass Productions is a no brainer when it comes to film festivals. With poetic storytelling, captivating imagery, and a penchant for depicting mountain culture, Solitaire is the perfect example of what it takes to transcend the boundaries of ski porn. Director Nick Waggoner and the rest of the Sweetgrass team just relocated to Nelson, B.C., the setting of their next film, which will inevitably result in prime film festival material for next year. See you there.
“My brother makes millions, I climb and ski millions,” stated the now well-known Two Mil Greg Hill during a presentation he gave the concluding weekend of the festival. In one year, Hill climbed and skied two million vertical feet, following the snow in North and South America. After completing the two million vertical feet last year, Greg was dubbed Two Mil Hill and quickly categorized into the ski stardom hall of fame. His worst injury resulted from a low-stakes duck under a rope and Hill was never caught in any avalanches, but he probably skied more big mountain lines last year than any other skier on the planet.
Successful people just keep on succeeding. Chris Davenport is one of those specimens. He has notable descents in every mountainous country on the map, has appeared in over 35 ski films during his career, and has published books allowing others to get a glimpse into the life of one of skiing’s most accomplished figures. At the festival, Davenport gave a presentation and signed, “Fifty Classic Ski Descents of North America” and was also a judge on the film jury to award the best of the festival. The morning after the festival, Davenport continued his travels, not home, but to Antarctica to guide a group on the continent of penguins.
These days it’s acceptable to get fish almost anywhere—even in the Rocky Mountains. For festival goers in search of a Pacific treat, Miki Japanese Food, located in the Inns at Banff, serves up plentiful portions of authentic Japanese food. Order the udon and glass of plum wine and remember the sushi chef’s face. You’ll probably see him on the dance floor later in the evening.
Every morning a conglomeration of festival faces showed up at the Wild Flour in downtown Banff to caffeinate sleepy, aching dancing feet for that day’s events. Mike Douglas, Nick Waggoner, Chris Davenport, Greg Hill, and others all made appearances to indulge in the café’s perfected espresso, cookies, and breakfast sandwiches.
(Editor’s Note: Molly is too modest to mention it, but her film, “A Downhill Affair” was featured at Banff, too. It looks at her life as a pro skier, and the choices that she and her boyfriend, Zack Giffin, have to face in their skiing careers and their relationship. It’s beautifully done, and worth checking out. )