Banff Mountain Film Festivals

5 films to watch at the Banff Mountain Film Festival

The 35th Banff Mountain Film Festival is about to make a stop in Toronto as part of its 2010/2011 World Tour. The Festival will be dropping into the Bloor Cinema this weekend with a slew of films about life in the outdoors. Submitted from all over the world, the Festival's selections cover everything from the world's fastest alpinist, to building school's in Afghanistan, to a spoof about climbing Everest called Parking Garage: Beyond the Limit.

The one thing they all have in common is a sense of adventure. Toronto will be showing less than half the films from the original festival in November, but there are still many to choose from. These are my five must-see adventure flicks.

Dream Result (March 26th)
A staple for this kind of festival, Dream Result appeals to my desire to watch something that's just plain badass. The guys that are featured in this film will kayak anything and are constantly on the prowl for new territory. The footage is phenomenal and includes a world record waterfall descent of Palouse Falls, and great whitewater footage from all over the world, including Canada.

As It Happens (March 26th)
Most documentaries about mountain climbs are produced after the climb is over, often by a third party, and they arguably lose much of the intensity of the climb. As It Happens is about showing a climb while it's still going on. This short is the final product of footage from a climb that was broadcast almost in real time. The featured climbers brought their own equipment, recorded and edited video daily, and posted it online from the Himalayas along with regular social media updates. This approach to a film about climbing is totally unique and provides interesting insight into the real experience of climbing a mountain.

Tibet: Murder in the Snow (March 26th)
This film documents a group of international climbers whose lives became intersected with a group of Tibetan pilgrims headed for Nepal. The climbers suddenly become witnesses to murder as the nearby Tibetans, who are attempting to cross the Nangpa Pass into Nepal, are shot at by Chinese border patrol. This film uses footage taken by the climbers and combines it with interviews with some of the pilgrims who made it out of Tibet.

Life Cycles (March 26th)
Living in Toronto, I have to include Life Cycles on my list. It's a must-see for bicycle riders of any type. The film features 8 cyclists and quite a diverse range of settings and stunts. It's very visually stimulating with sharp contrasts, a fabulous attention to detail, and a cool juxtaposition of peaceful scenery with the energy of the unrelenting riders. It's also got a pretty sweet soundtrack. This one is about celebrating the bicycle in all its glory.

Last Paradise (March 27th)
Last Paradise is an indispensable selection for its historical value. I'm an amateur snowboarder who still gets pretty freaked out on the slopes--as exhilarating as it is-- but I take a lot comfort knowing it's a well established sport with a lot of intelligent design behind the equipment and techniques. I simply cannot imagine being the first person who decided to "surf" on snow. This documentary collects a ton of footage from the people who pioneered what are now known as extreme sports and creates a fascinating history by linking it all together with interviews and anecdotes.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour runs from March 25-27. Screenings will be at the Bloor Cinema. Tickets are $20 online, or $10 for Alpine Club of Canada members. To purchase tickets in person, check this list.

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