Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival Stops at Kingsbury Hall on World Tour

Magazine header for Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and World Tour (Courtesy Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)

Magazine header for Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival and World Tour (Courtesy Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity)

By Nicoline West, Arts Writer


2022’s Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival debuted at Kingsbury Hall on Feb. 22 and ran through Feb. 25, but it will eventually tour nine provinces and two territories in its native Canada and 39 U.S. States. Each night’s lineup is charmingly named after a species of tree — Larch, Maple, Spruce and Pine. Feb. 24’s Spruce Lineup included six films ranging from six to 49 minutes.

Originally offering drama classes in the Canadian Rockies, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity was founded in 1933. The Banff Centre has since evolved into a leader in curating and developing outdoor films with the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival, which began in 1976. Now almost 50 years later, the festival is going strong with its annual presentations of achievements in outdoor filmmaking.

Outdoor film festivals, mountain film festivals, adventure film festivals — whatever you want to call them — are no rarity in the Mountain West. Many in the region feel a deep connection to the geography. These festivals connect local and global communities of outdoor enthusiasts. 

The Hits

The two strongest films of the night came from Redbull Media House — “A Foreign Native” and “Markus Eder’s The Ultimate Run.” “A Foreign Native” followed Austrian skier Fabian Lentsch as he moved to Iran. It was an outdoor film that was only half concerned with the outdoors. Lentsch’s determination to assimilate painted a sweet human interest story as he stayed in Tehran through COVID-19’s first wave, learning Farsi and Tanbur, a traditional Iranian instrument. At 49 minutes, “A Foreign Native” was the longest film of the night and by far the most memorable.

Markus Eder’s The Ultimate Run was about as straightforward as anything from Redbull could be — 10 straight minutes of a pro freeskier hitting tricks around Zermatt. That being said, the short was well filmed and mesmerizing. Creative touches like Eder skiing through an ice cave and a castle separate “The Ultimate Run” from other edits. 

The Misses

The night began with “Never in the Way,” a six-minute short of bike messenger Nico Deportago-Cabrera on a solo trip through Arizona. “Never in the Way” was an easy opener for the rest of the lineup, but was lacking in substance.

The second-longest feature “Deep Roots” came from Red Bull’s Reel Rock series. It followed Indigenous athlete Lonnie Kauk’s mission to connect with his father, climbing legend Ron Kauk. Lonnie Kauk shifted his focus from snowboarding to rock climbing to follow his father’s path in climbing Yosemite’s hardest routes. “Deep Roots” adequately acknowledged the lesser-known Indigenous history of Yosemite but missed the mark as a re-watchable documentary.

The weakest films were “Izembeck” and “Always Higher.” “Izembeck” felt like an academic journal article turned into a 14-minute documentary. This is unsurprising, considering it came from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Always Higher” followed Québécois high-diver Lysanne Richard’s record-breaking javelin dive from 22m. The short made a solid effort to build tension, but the dive itself was an unexciting climax. As selective as festivals can be, Banff did fall a bit short at Kingsbury on Feb. 24.

The Banff Film Festival continues on its World Tour with virtual selections and international screenings through Spring 2022, which you can follow here.


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