The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour returns to Portland next week for the 13th year running. Again this year there will be two great shows, the first on Sunday evening, Feb 9 and the second on Monday night, Feb 10 at the State Theatre. Both shows start at 7 pm, but you’ll want to get there a lot earlier to get a good seat, grab a beer, check out the exhibitors and enter the raffles for a rash of prizes.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival is the premier program of The Banff Centre and certainly one of the most prestigious mountain festivals in the world. Every November, the Banff Festival – started some 38 years ago in 1976 – showcases a selection of outstanding adventure, exploration and mountain culture speakers, films, books and photographs from around the world during nine amazing days in Banff, Canada.
Immediately following the festival, a selection of the top films go on a tour around the world. Host organizations in each tour location – like Chestnut Mountain Productions here in Portland – choose a program that reflects the interests of their community, creating a unique celebration of adventure and adventurers at each show location.
According to The Banff Centre, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour spans the globe, reaching an audience of more than 390,000 people through more than 840 screenings in approximately 440 locations in 40 countries. Many of the tour screenings benefit local outdoor programs, community causes, or nonprofit organizations. Some of the causes supported by the tour includes money for outdoor pursuits, adventure programs for disadvantaged children, search and rescue operations, climbing clubs, youth ski programs and trail maintenance groups.
This year’s Portland film menu is again outstanding, one that will surely get you pumped for some wild and crazy outdoor adventure.
Come along on Sunday night and you’ll see skiers turned paragliders launch themselves over a valley, a visual poem of the Colorado River, a woman’s ski jumping and a battle for equality, climbers scaling a remote spire in Antarctica, the harvesting of glacial ice in the Andes of Ecuador, kayaking gnarly slot canyons and dangerous waterfalls and crossing the Strait of San Juan de Fuca on a paddleboard.
On Monday, strap yourself in to see skiers carve lines through a charred forest, wingsuit pilots flying through Heaven’s Gate, a woman climber tackling sketchy E9 rock routes in the UK, running in the wilds of Namibia, the chronicle of more than fifty years of Himalayan expeditions, and a climber who scales 35 routes in one day on his 35th birthday.
My friend Tom Widing of Chestnut Mountain Productions has been bringing the Banff to Portland since the get go in 2002. I caught up with him recently to get his take on Banff and Portland. Here’s what Tom had to say…
For 13 years you’ve been bringing the Banff show to Portland. What keeps you coming back?
We’ve gotten tremendous support every year from the folks in the Portland region, particularly members of MOAC (Maine Outdoor Adventure Club) and the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club). On a personal note, I just enjoy being in Portland where I get a chance to spend a couple of days before the shows. Love the architecture, the restaurants, and the sense of energy.
The Banff is here for two nights this year. Is this new?
Last year was our first year for two days at the State Theatre. Several years before we did two nights at smaller venues.
Do you think some people will attend both nights to see the different menu of films?
Our experience is that about 25% hardcore will attend both.
What else does Chestnut Mountain Productions do for shows?
We do 14 Banff shows, Warren Miller in New York and Philadelphia, the New Paltz Climbing Film Festival and Reel Rock, along with Telluride Mountain Film Festival in Portland which will be at the University of Southern Maine in Portland next September 27th.
What exhibitors will be at Portland shows this year?
Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS), Nomads, Deuter, MSR, MOAC, AMC and Backcountry Excursions.
Will you have raffles and giveaways at the shows again this year, you know, stuff folks can win?
There’s a free raffle for a Deuter pack, Cushie shoes, Petzl DVD and bag of Cliff bars.
Is this your first visit to the State Theatre in a while? I remember the 2005 show when there was no heat!
It was 55 degrees in 2005. We were there again last year, with full heat! They have done a great job fixing up the theatre.
Tell me a little out your favorite film or two or three that’ll be in Portland this year.
My favorite film, which is also perfect timing, is Ready to Fly. It won Best Feature Mountain Film in Banff. It’s the story about Lindsey Van (not Lindsey Vonn). Van, 29, was one of the women who spearheaded the 15-year fight for women ski jumping inclusion in the Olympics. This film will be screened on Sunday and two days later, they will compete in Sochi.
Another favorite is 35 which won Best Short Mountain Film in Banff. It’s a five-minute exploration of growing older and a glorification of the simple joys of the climbing life, and its beautiful commentary will hit home with almost everyone, just not climbers.
You always donate some proceeds to benefit a local charity. Which one this year?
We’ll be doing a raffle to benefit the REAL School in Windham. All the proceeds will go to purchase equipment for their outdoor program. Raffle prizes include a Deuter pack, MSR snowshoes, Liteload Towels, Shawnee Peak lift passes, EMS bike tune-ups and a season pass to Backcountry Excursions.
All good Tom. Thanks a million for continuing to bring this great show to Portland. Hope you get a big turnout for both nights. I’ll certainly see you there!