The great dramas of men and women and their relationship with the world’s mountains make for thrilling movies. With more than 30 such films, happy and sad, triumphant and subtle, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is coming to South Lake Tahoe April 1.
“The quality of films is definitely of a higher standard than what’s shown at other festivals,” said organizer David “Squirrel” Schlosser.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival is held every year in Banff, Alberta, Canada, and is heralded as the largest mountain film festival in the world. Following the main event, the film fest embarks on a world tour with more than 400 screenings in 35 countries. Each lineup is chosen from the film festivals original 30 or so selections.
“Generally we have a bunch of sports films as well as cultural and artsy stuff,” Schlosser said. “Each year can be a little different.
This year marks the event’s fourth year visiting South Lake Tahoe. Though Schlosser doesn’t typically choose the exact lineup until the day of the event, film topics range from rock climbing to mountain biking, curling to powder skiing and Antarctic exploration. Schlosser hopes the lineup of films will have something for every mountain enthusiast, from diehard skier to avid conservationist.
“A lot of the film festivals tend to be genre-specific,” Schlosser said. “With the Banff Mountain Film Festival it’s a little more of a broad spectrum.”
“Crossing the Ice,” one of the films Schlosser said will likely play at this year’s event, centers around two Australian explorers mission to cross Antarctica to the south pole and then back completely unassisted. Dragging through temperatures as low as minus 40 Celsius, the two explorers hauled all their food and gear on sleds for more than 2,000 kilometers and kindled an unlikely friendship along the way. The fete was the first trip and return trip ever made to the South Pole. The film won the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival’s grand prize as well as the best film in the exploration and adventure category.
“We found the humor and humanity in the face of the incredible adversity and important element in this film,” said jury member Tommy Heinrich.
Another film that has generated significant buzz is director Marianne Chaud’s documentary, “Nomadic Nights,” on a family of nomads that lives high in the Himalaya. The film won the top award in the mountain culture category. The thrilling footage of daring slackliners walking tightropes high above mountain landscapes in “Moonwalker” is also sure to please.
With both the Wild and Scenic Film Festival and the Tahoe Adventure Film Festival slated for earlier in the year, the Banff Mountain Film Festival has to be careful not to repeat films, Schlosser said. But knowing what plays at other events also helps him narrow down his list of selections for the two hour showing, he added.
“I think it’s a lot more fun when people don’t know anything about what they’re going to see,” Schlosser said.
Films like “Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0” won’t be shown because they appeared at the Adventure Film Festival, Schlosser said. Still, from “Hell’s Miners of Potosi,” an environmental film about silver miners in Bolivia, to “Gone Curling,” a quirky homage to the winter sport, Schlosser has a wide range of films to choose from.
“I try to get a better perspective on what’s suited to our audience,” he said.