FAIRBANKS - As more sun fills the sky, thoughts turn to dreams of outdoor activity. However, as it remains a touch on the chilly side (for many people), it is time to live vicariously though others at the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, screening Sunday evening at Davis Concert Hall.
Sponsored by University of Alaska Fairbanks Student Activities and Outdoor Adventures, this year’s films feature rock and ice climbing, whitewater kayaking, Nordic skiing, mountain biking, long-distance rowing and several films with strong cultural components.
Mark Oldmixon, Outdoor Adventures coordinator, said the challenge is to provide a variety without losing the audience. Films run from six minutes to just shorter than a half an hour.
“We try and stay away from the 50-60 minute films,” he explained. “We’d rather have a few shorter films so, if something flops, it isn’t half the film festival.”
The festival screens eight films in a little more than two hours. An intermission, prize giveaways and an introduction to each film fill out the three-hour schedule. The films begin with “MedeoZ,” the multi-sport adventure where a handful of athletes — a rock climber, paraglider, skier and others — all arrive at the summit of a mountain at the same time through their sport. “Africa Revolution” follows a team kayaking the crocodile-infested White Nile in Uganda and making big-water first descents in Madagascar, while installing solar cooking facilities in village along the routes.
The “Ultimate Skiing Showdown” focuses on Nordic ski-racing, while “Rowing Atlantic” is just what is sounds like, the chronicle of Roz Savage’s solo rowing journey across the ocean.
“First Ascent: Alone on the Wall” follows 24-yearold Alex Honnold on the first free-solo of the Regular Northwest Face route (VI, 5.12a, 23 pitches) on Yosemite’s Half Dome. “Kranked — Resolve” examines mountain biking’s multiple styles, including dirt jump, trail, freeride, slopestyle and downhill riding.
“Hunlen” is an ice-climbing film that showcases two climbers making the first ascent of British Columbia’s remote Hunlen Falls — in less-than-ideal conditions. “Project Megawhoosh,” the final film, follows a German engineer who creates the world’s tallest human waterslide.
“It’s interesting,” Oldmixon said of the final film. “It’s a giant water slide and this guy slides down, jumps off the end and ... I’ll leave the suspense for the end.”
The Banff Mountain Film Festival began in 1986. The key to the festival’s long success is the variety of films. The founders’ original focus was on mountaineering. That gradually shifted to more global issues and challenges, such as environmental troubles or the problems of changing communities.
Often these themes are woven into the adventure films that create the festival’s backbone, although Oldmixon said he has seen a recent shift back toward the original dynamic.
“(Banff) used to (include) more rough-cut, down and dirty activity in the village, but now it is high-priced film and equipment and a lot more of the adrenaline rush and less of the culture,” he said.
“Green environmentalism and activism is trendy right now, but we’re seeing less and less of the culture in the films.” No Alaska exploits appear in this year’s footage.
“But they’re all activities that are done up here,” Oldmixon said. “I think people will still enjoy it.”
Contact features editor Glenn BurnSilver at 459-7510.
IF YOU GO:
What: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour
When: 6 p.m. Sunday
Where: Davis Concert Hall, UAF campus
Tickets: Advance: students $10, general $12; at the door: students $12, general $14 at the Wood Center front desk and Beaver Sports