[The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival takes place April 15th and 16th starting at 7:30 pm at the Masonic Temple & Auditorium located at 3615 Euclid Avenue]
Reporting by Charles Cassady Jr.
CLERKS or BLAIR WITCH knockoff to every available phone pole, bulletin board, bystander or caribou who don't get out of the way fast enough.
No, not quite. Mountain Film Festivals, held at different venues around the world, are curious oxymorons, celebrations of adventure-sports movies whose primary message is to get out of your auditorium seat and go OUT. Here is where real-life adventurers bring the fruits of their passion for skiing, rock-climbing, extreme cycling, kayaking, BASE jumping, caving, snowboarding, jungle exploration, desert-crossing etc. No deal making over some hot "Hulk" script some hack cranked out. The Cannes of mountain film festivals takes place in Banff, in the Canadian Rockies, each November. The Banff Mountain Film Festival, founded in 1975, is two days and four nights of films from all over the world, as well as a wilderness-gear trade show, displays, diversions, and education seminars directed more towards surviving Mount McKinley rather than Paramount.
The first "Best of Banff" traveling selection in 1986 hit just three Canadian cities. Now the Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour comes to 250 venues throughout 25 countries. Cleveland, first visited in 1997, now hosts two nights of Banffness - a different lineup each night - on April 15 and 16 at the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium.
Some of the films are professional, others are slick amateur work, edited on desktop PCs and made in seemingly spontaneous bursts of adrenaline rush. Directors range from professional ESPN cinematographers to home-movie hobbyists who'd rather be hiking the Appalachian Trail than Sunset Boulevard.
They range from just a few minutes to feature length, expressing the spirit of outdoor adventure. Rarely do these films reach wide audiences on video outside the alpinism circuit. They really feel like they have been made for the sheer rush of it.
Screenings take place Friday and Saturday at 3615 Euclid Ave., the films starting at 7:30 p.m., with a reception beginning an hour earlier. Tickets for Friday are $35 in advance, for Saturday $30. That brings not just a night of some of the most unforgettable motion-picture entertainment you'll see this year, but also hobnobbing in the lobby by, no, not the usual local directors and screenwriters begging for handouts, but reps from hiking, rowing and adventure clubs looking for recruits. There are also raffles of sporting goods and "green" merchandise, and camp-gear vendors and refreshment stands serving specialty beer and Red Bull. Lots of Red Bull.
For more information and a complete itinerary of films, go online to the special Cleveland-Banff website.