Adventure means different things to different folk. And it’s been interesting watching the way that the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has evolved. It’s no longer just about extreme adventurers testing themselves to the limits in the high mountains or performing feats of daring on their mountain bikes or in their plastic kayaks. Banff now celebrates the outdoors in a more holistic fashion. Many of the films are beautiful and poignant; some display an incredible wealth of cinematography; others delve deep into relationships between individuals and between man and his environment. For my money this year’s tour, which kicks off on 23 October, is one of the best.
Obviously I’m a bit biased because one of the films in the Banff World Tour is home grown. The Beauty of the Irrational, produced by local filmmakers Dean Leslie and Greg Fell of The African Attachment, features South African ultra-runner Ryan Sandes on his record-breaking run down Namibia’s Fish River Canyon Trail. Sandes is something of a superhero to me so it was enlightening to hear him discussing vulnerability, and mesmerising to see his legs going like pistons on the 500m descent from canyon rim to floor!
The long movie, North of the Sun, is the story of two irrepressible young Norwegian surfers who spend the Arctic winter in a shack made from driftwood and flotsam. In between (brief) surfing (and skiing) sessions during the long winter when the sun barely rises above the horizon they collect three tons of rubbish from the beach.
Then there’s a wonderful depiction of Elizabeth Hawley, the Keeper of The Mountain who bucked the conventions of her time by settling down alone in Kathmandu in 1960. Famous among the mountaineering fraternity for chronicling Himalayan expeditions for The Himalayan Database, and despite being nearly 90, she’s still interviewing (some might say interrogating) Everest and other Himalayan summiteers.
I could go on. The Sensei and The Questions We Ask are, superficially, movies about rock climbing and SUPing. But they are way more than that. And there’s some terrifying wingsuit flying that will have you on the edge of your seat.
But I won’t ruin it any further. Whether you’re an armchair traveler or an intrepid adventurer you really need to go and see for yourself. The South African leg of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2014 is a wonderfully entertaining experience that will appeal to young and old, timid and bold.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour screens at select Ster-Kinekor cinemas across the country. The Western Cape showings are:
Cavendish Square 23–31 October
Tygervalley Center 24–31 October
Cost R62, www.sterkinekor.com
Contact +27 82 16789, www.banff.co.za