Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour Returns To Portland

Nothing says film fest like a 'soft focus' photo
If you can't get to the mountains, you might as well watch films about them. It's a mantra that keeps many a snowboarder from shaking and sweating his way through the summer. Even in the midst of peak season a film fest program can expose an audience to a dozen perspectives they may never have experienced. Go for the kayaking, stay for the BASE jumping. Tonight the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour started a three-day run in Portland, administering the fixes and averting the shakes.

Here's a quick rundown of the program. Breaking the ice was The Longest Way, a short film about one man's year of walking through China told using a series of still photos. Impossible to fully grasp at best, nausea inducing at worst. Check it out on YouTube. Next up, Life Cycles, a movie about bikes. It was heavy on time-lapses and art, but the tour cut (adapted from the full-length film) left it feeling choppy. The night's feature was a movie near to many peoples' hearts. A Life Ascending told the story of Ruedi Beglinger, an elite mountain guide in BC's Selkirks, and how a fateful avalanche changed his life. Among the lives claimed in this tragedy was one Craig Elmer Kelly of Mount Vernon, WA. A heavy movie, indeed. After a short intermission (during which your humble author both polished off a bacon, egg and cheeseburger and won a raffle prize), First Ascent: Man vs. Eiger played. Dean Potter was the star and pioneer of a sport called free-basing: climbing mountains without rope, but with a BASE jumper's parachute. The idea is that if you fall, you don't die, you fly. It seemed to work. He didn't die. Sorry to spoil the ending. After the awe-inspiring Man vs. Eiger came the awww-inducing Still Motion, a short compiled of stills from Alberta foothills wildlife cameras. The final film of the evening was Wild Water, a film that sought to capture the essence of river running. That means using lots of slo-mo. An emotional movie nonetheless.

If any of this sounds interesting, well the next two nights are either sold out or close. Check REI or craigslist for tickets. Also, neither of the next two nights will have the same movies as tonight did. Unlike in years past where they've repeated some of the shorts, this year the host assured us that all three nights will be totally different. Just the kind of fix I need.

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