Banff Mountain Film Festival wows crowd

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour wowed crowds Friday at the Emerson Cultural Center and Saturday at the Willson Auditorium thanks to support from the Bridger Ski Foundation.

Raffle prizes, including a Deuter backpack, amped up the crowd at intermission, but the films provided the jolt the Bozeman outdoor community was searching for. The show at the Emerson on Friday was oversold, as people looking for their mountain fix sat in the aisles. Despite technical difficulties resulting in lines crawling up the screen at the Emerson, the films captivated the crowd. Saturday’s show at Willson Auditorium was also sold out.

Films on Friday included “1st Afghan Ski Challenge,” an inspiring story about the first Afghan skiers enjoying races in their war-torn country, and “5 Races, 5 Continents,” depicting the joy and pain involved in trail running.

The most inspiring of the films, “The Gimp Monkeys,” documents the ascent of three disabled friends climbing Yosemite’s El Capitan. A visually stunning short film called “Moonwalk” captures Dean Potter’s high altitude slack-lining, and another short, “On Thin Ice 2,” shows what one man on thin ice with ice skates and a bottle of vodka can do with an afternoon. “Flow Hunters” documents a tour of New Zealand’s white water.

The longer films on Friday included: “Reel Rock 7: Wide Boyz,” the story of UK crack-climbers dominating American rocks, and “Wild Bill’s Run,” a collection of 70’s footage and recent interviews with friends who followed Wild Bill Cooper on a failed 5,000 mile trip from Minnesota to Moscow.

My favorite film, “Strength in Numbers,” is a short edit of a feature celebrating mountain biking’s culture, communities and the trails that bring them together. Boasting awesome chopper shots, amazing cinematography and choreography, and a soundtrack featuring the Bouncing Souls, “Strength in Numbers” has an event-like feel and received a warm response from mountain bikers and those who turned flips in the park.

Saturday’s show featured “The Denali Experiment,” the story of skier Sage Cattabriga-Alosa and snowboarder Lucas Debari following their dream — to climb up and ski/ride down Mt. Denali. “Highway Wilding” searches for solutions to prevent road kill, “Huck” examines the pros and cons of big waterfalls, and “Industrial Revolutions” follows cyclist Danny MacAskill around a playground of abandoned iron.

One of the largest and most successful film festivals in Bozeman and around the world, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour succeeded again, and provided those of us in the mountains with the inspiring and provocative action, adventure and environmental films that make a mountain life worth living.