Feb 272005
Authors: Sarah Rawley

The 29th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival had a sell-out show with 660 tickets sold Saturday night at the Lory Student Center.

The festival debuted seven of the 20 films touring around North America and internationally from December 2004 through March 2005.

The films were a mix of high adrenaline, searing documentaries, both cultural and humorous.

"Compared to past years, the films were more professional and creative, with better music and a mix of culture," said Rodney Ley, head of the Outdoor Adventure Program.

Ley and Banff festival representative Courtney Scott chose which films were shown.

"We wanted a variety to suit the entire audience," Ley said. "The films are cultural and sophisticated, not just films for the adrenaline youth."

The seven films ranged in length from five to 50 minutes, highlighting people who are passionate about outdoor recreation in activities such as whitewater kayaking, skiing, mountain biking, rock climbing, mountain climbing and trekking.

One of the more compelling films was "Alone Across Australia," which journeyed with John Muir in his fourth attempt to become the first person to cross Australia by foot without support from others.

"It was the longest and strongest magnitude of emotion. People seemed to like it the best," said Cisco Tharp, a sophomore English major who works at the adventure program and helped put on the event.

The film documented Muir's 128-day journey of 2,500 kilometers, while he ate off the land and traveled with sole companionship coming from his Jack Russell terrier, who passed away in the end of the film.

"It was so real. The dog played a big role in affecting people's emotions," Ley said.

The six other films were chosen because they exhibited real people in their element.

"It's not your typical movie. It's more a cultural thing. The people who made these films are people we look up to and want to see and experience. They are real people doing amazing things," said David Carter, a senior sociology and psychology major and director of the Ingersoll Outdoor Adventure Program.

The ski film titled "Sinners" showcased skiers at Whitewater Winter Resort in Nelson, British Columbia, and was well received by audience members.

"My favorite was the ski film, 'Sinners.' It was peaceful, serene, and playful all at the same time," Tharp said.

The mountain biking film, titled "The Collective," had some of the most impressive cinematography, as it followed bikers on a single track through the forest.

Cameramen on ziplines got high-end views of stunts with more than 20-foot vertical drops and road gaps.

Extreme rock climbing was featured in two of the films: "Psciobloc" and "Balance of Risk."

"Psciobloc" displayed climbers in Australia making risky ascents over deep water, and "Balance of Risk" featured Jamie Andrew, a motivational speaker and mountaineer from Scotland who lost his hands and feet in a horrific accident in the French Alps.

"Many of these films were dramatic. They show a person's perseverance and love of the land. That's what's great about the festival, exploring ways we are connected with the land," said Daniel Chavdla, a junior forestry major.

"A Russian Wave" followed first-time filmmaker Becky Bristol on her adventures in making first runs of rivers in her kayak in the desolate northeastern corner of Russia.

The last film was a short clip that contributed a humorous aspect to the entire showing. At five minutes, "Weekend Warrior" was the shortest film, characterizing the ski bum culture played out through Barbie and Ken dolls in a sort of claymation-style.

The Banff Centre, located in Banff, Alberta, holds its annual film festival the first week in November. Of 331 submissions in 2004, 57 were chosen as finalists and 20 went on tour.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival originated in 1976 and began an outreach program 18 years ago to bring mountains films to other communities. It has grown into an annual worldwide event that visits 46 countries across the globe.

The Outdoor Adventure Program has sponsored the Banff Mountain Film Festival for 12 out of the last 15 showings in Fort Collins. Because the films' content extends beyond an audience of solely thrill-seeking youths, the event draws a large number of audience members from the community.

"Ski and bike films of today are so commercialized, and don't appeal to people who look for something deeper than the stoke factor," Tharp said.

Ley expects to host the Banff Mountain Film Festival again next year.

"This show is never not sold out. People hunt us down to see the films in multiple showings across the state," Ley said.

The region's next showing will be today in Boulder.

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