Wednesday, 31 October 2012

This year's Banff Mountain Film Festival

Last night I went to watch the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour movie selection. A big thank you to Cape Union Mart for bringing these Banff movies out every year.

I'm in mixed minds about the movies. As usual, I didn't give the line up a glance as I book tickets regardless because I know that I'm going to love the content.

I think what stood out for me was the separation of the movies that were mostly POV (point of view) with indy music and those with a story. For sure, I loved the story ones better.

My favourites were 'Obe and Ashima' about the climbing coach and his 9-year-old student, 'C.A.R.C.A.' - a tongue-in-cheek about avalanche-rescue cats and 'Sketchy Andy' - a wonderful profile on a quirky fellow. I like these story movies because the action footage is excellent, the stories are entertaining, informative and captivating. I feel as if I'm getting to know the people and sharing their joys and emotions.

'Towers of the Ennedi', a climbing film was also good - I do love deserts and this was spectacular scenery. And nice with Alex Hunnold who I 'know' from the 'Half Dome' movie from Banff 2010 and he was in 'Swiss Machine' with Ueli Steck at Banff last year (plus I've read all kinds of stuff about him).

The paddling composition 'Frontier' was alright, but missing that something to pull it all together. I think 'Frontier' felt so cut-and-paste is because it was. A bit of footage from Mexico and a dash of footage from Iceland (Steve Fisher's 'Halo Effect' content where Shane Raw broke his arm)... Too much in the beginning of kayakers just going over waterfalls. I'd have liked a bit of freeze-frame of the waterfalls and some lines drawn over the falls to show optimal lines etc. and then you see the person going over. I did enjoy the sequence of the not-so-good lines because we usually just see the attempts that come out right.

The show opened with 'All.I.Can', a ski movie. Amazing camera work and angles and creativity but too many seriously close-ups for my liking. It started off with scenes of skiers going downhill and all over the place and then a superb sequence of a skier working this way through this town - all downhill. Over roads, across railings - that was superb. But I couldn't 'see' what was happening and I wanted to see where the skier was going and how he was moving, not just close-ups of his skis going past and snow flying.

'White Water Grand Prix' was a bit of a damp squib. It said '25 of the World's Best Kayakers', 'six events' or something like this. Some great shots of big water but I wanted to know what the events were (play boating, slalom, other?), where this took place, what the kayakers had to do to compete... I think they gave a men's and women's results list at the end but it didn't rock my boat. I didn't bond with any of the kayakers and it was just music and random kayaking shots from the events of random kayakers.

'From the inside out' was a downhill biking movie. Again, superb shots but perhaps because it is an edit of the full movie I didn't bond with the riders. More POV and dudes playing on their bikes. I was quite interested in the track that they built. I've seen a few of these types of movies and again I was asking how they build the tracks, work out the angles for the ramps and landings and such. But, it was more music and shot after shot.

'Concrete Dreams' was interesting with a guy skateboarding six bobsled tracks in Europe. More POV stuff. Instead of track after track and hand-cam footage I wanted to know about the tracks and not just the maximum speed the skateboarder got. How long is the track, what is the elevation change from top to bottom, how does his speed compare with that of a bobsled on the track and even a 'map' showing what the track looks like - the bends and straights.

The thing that did stand out for me was the camera work and footage. There's some awesome stuff happening with shooting and editing. Tons of creativity and amazing physical feats by the participants - across disciplines. If tickets were open now I'd be booking my tickets already for next year.

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