Feb 282006
Authors: Sarah Rawley

Crack fanatics, sherpas playing hockey, rocks defying gravity and parasailing across the Grand Canyon – These extreme acts of human insanity and passion for the outdoors caught on film inspired the mountain community of Fort Collins at the 30th Annual Banff Mountain Film Festival on Monday night at the Lory Student Center Theatre.

The Outdoor Adventure Program has brought the sell-out show almost every year since 1992 because of its reigning popularity among outdoor enthusiasts in Fort Collins.

"This is one of the best in film festivals because it brings people together in their passion for adventure and the mountain culture," said Paul Price, Banff Mountain Festival representative on the World Tour.

The festival debuted eight of the 25 films touring around North America and internationally from February through May. With three times more films touring than can be shown in a night, Rodney Ley, director of the OAP, said choosing eight films for the evening was a process.

"We want to highlight everything that is a part of the mountain culture – from culture, to environment, to adrenaline, to something humorous and quirky – and something to cater to the Fort Collins community," Ley said.

The eight films ranged in length from four to 45 minutes, highlighting people who are passionate about outdoor recreation in everything from whitewater kayaking, rock climbing, parasailing, hockey, fly fishing and skiing.

"Balancing Point" won a Special Jury Award during the festival for its simple, poetic expression and use of technology involving "reverse destruction" of balanced rock sculptures.

For those who salivate at the thought of running the Poudre River in a kayak, "Middle Kaweah" was the perfect eye candy. It documented some of the world's best kayakers on a six-day journey into the Sierra Nevadas for a first descent.

Rock climbers were inspired by the feature length film of the evening, "Return2sender: Parallelojams." The film, narrated by Timmy O'Neill, followed a gusty group of climbers to Indian Creek, Utah, who were fueling their crack addiction with scaling first ascents in modern desert climbing and slack-lining Bridger-Jones highline.

"This film was fitting for the large climbing community of Fort Collins," said Krister Sorensen, a CSU alumna. "A lot of people take trips to Indian Creek, plus Timmy O'Neill is high-larious."

"The Hatch" left fly fishers hankering for warm weather and big insect hatches like the one on the Gunnison River in Colorado's Black Canyon National Park.

"Hockey Night in Ladakh" illustrated cultural crossroads when Canadian filmmakers helped nurture a Himalayan-sized passion for the sport of hockey.

"This was my favorite film by far," said Jenn Gerard, a senior nutrition major. "I loved seeing how different parts of the world view the outdoors on all levels of happiness."

After two and a half hours and a prize-filled intermission, the film festival left the audience with a few thoughts to ponder with "Solilochairliftquist," which explores the complexities of life as a ski bum while riding chairlifts.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival originated in 1976 in Banff, Alberta, and is an international competition for films involving mountain culture. The festival is held each year during the first week in November. Of the 319 films that were submitted in 2005, 55 were shown at the festival.

The Banff Centre also promotes the Banff Mountain Book Festival and a photography competition during the weeklong festival.

Three days after the festival ends, the World Tour staff hits the road for the first of more than 400 screenings around the world. The tour visits approximately 250 locations in about 25 countries from Iceland to India and Argentina to Austria.

"We work hard to have the festival back every year," Ley said.

The next showing will be at REI Boulder February 28 and March 1. Visit www.banffcentre.ca/mountainculture/tour for more information.

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