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Banff Film Festival Features Exciting Outdoor Adventures

Courtesy of Banff
The Banff Film Festival

A collective celebration for all things adventure and outside, Banff Film Festival premiered in Salt Lake City on Feb. 20, with rad films featuring adrenaline enthusiasts and raw nature from all over the world.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival originates in Banff, Alberta, and first began in 1976. It is an international film competition featuring short films and documentaries from numerous countries. Roughly 300 films are submitted each year and all are viewed and voted upon by a panel and an audience at the initial festival in Canada. After that, a world tour is taken featuring the 30 best films. Visiting over 300 cities and 20 countries, Banff ensures locals in many different areas experience what the festival has to offer.

The film festival is no stranger to campus, as Outdoor Adventures through Campus Recreation Services has been hosting this event for many years. Rob Jones, manager of Outdoor Adventures said, “When we started doing this, we realized that we could bring all kinds of people together to see some beautiful films and adventures … and it is just a lot of fun.” The event is open to the public, but it is also attended by many University of Utah students.

“My favorite part of the film festival is sharing the excitement and wonder of the films with an audience full of people who enjoy the same things I do,” said sophomore Thomas Odell. “It is an opportunity for me to see people living, doing and documenting the things that I am passionate about.”

Maya Kobe-Rundio, a junior said, “[There is a] shared sense of inspiration and awe that the audience experiences through watching the films. I go because each year brings new stories of adventure, mountain culture, and environment that inspire me to push myself in my own outdoor adventures.”

The films vary from four to 31 minutes. Each is set in a different part of the world and has a different theme. From base jumping to kayaking to sport cycling to dog sledding, there is no shortage of variety at Banff.

Outdoor enthusiasts might even recognize a few films in the Banff Film Festival that were also seen in the Rock Reels 12 tour that occurred earlier this year. “Break On Through” features Margo Hayes, a 19 year old gymnast turned climber who has become the first female to climb 5.15 (the top of the climbing difficulty scale.) The film focuses specifically on her ascents up “Biographie” in the south of France and “La Rambla” in Spain — both ascents occurring within six months of each other. Hayes is bursting with personality and jaw-dropping dedication, both of which are beautifully expressed in the film.

Other films from this year include “2.5 Million,” featuring American skier Aaron Rice as he sets out to ski 2.5 million, human-powered, vertical feet in the backcountry and set a new world record. “Loved By All: The Story of Apa Sherpa,” depicts the life of Apa Sherpa who has climbed Mt. Everest 21 times after being forced into service as a porter at age 12. Another feature, “Pedal,” is a film highlighting Hera van Willick’s journey across 43 countries as she bikes fully self-supported.

Hannah Stevens, a junior said, “All of the films make me feel really inspired to push my limits in outdoor sports and try new activities … [they] bring me tremendous joy and show the importance of the outdoors in a special way that is relatable to everyone.”

“I go to Banff to experience and see extreme human power and recreation and people pushing the limit,” said senior Matt Klassen.

An introduction is given prior to the beginning of each film explaining the context as well as introducing the director. Additionally, an intermission is taken halfway through the event in which a raffle occurs and prizes featuring North Face, Cliff Bar and other outdoor retailer merchandise.

Banff Mountain Film Festival has recently merged with the independent Radical Reels Tour as well. Banff typically focuses on mountain culture, adventure sports and heritage whereas Radical Reels is known for its more high “adrenaline junkie” vibe and highlights action films. However, both cultures will be integrated into the overall tour now.

The festival continuously boasts a wonderful environment of outdoor enthusiasts, granolas, climbers and skiers. Students, couples and professionals all come together under the shared umbrella of a love for the great outdoors and respect for the sheer talent and bravery featured within these films. Cheering, whistling and clapping will be heard randomly and at particularly dramatic moments throughout each of the features. This is in no way a formal setting.

“I love the gathering of like-minded people in one place getting excited about similar things,” said Klassen.

The Banff Film Festival is hosted at Kingsbury Hall and is in partnership with Outdoor Adventures in Campus Recreation Services. It will be held February 20-22 and March 5, beginning at 7:00 p.m. each night. Tickets are $12 for students, $14 for general public and youth 18 and under are $12. There are a multi-night packages offered as well: 2 nights for $24 and 3 nights for $36. Purchase tickets at Outdoor Adventures or at Kingsbury Hall.

For a list of movies being screened as well as a short description, please visit the website

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    JerryFeb 23, 2018 at 9:54 am

    March 5th Kingsbury Hall UofU Apa Sherpa Loved by All. Banff Mountain Film Festival world tour winner. VMFF best cultural film award. Apa has lived in Utah for 10 years and supports children and teachers in Nepal. Visit
    Thank you THULE Sweden, Sherpas Cinema