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Banff Mountain Film Festival 2014 review and highlights

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Banff Mountain Film Festival highlights

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Kingsbury Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah saw huge crowds on the first two nights and a sold-out crowd last night, February 20, 2014, for the final night of shows for the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The Banff films didn’t disappoint as there was a good mix of action sports, cultural, and environmental films that kept the audience intrigued. Here are a few of the highlights from the 2014 Banff Mountain Film Festival.

The Burn had some incredible cinematography as it portrayed skiers gliding through the snow of a newly-charred forest. The contrast of the burning trees against the cold snow was really quite amazing. A forest fire that has raged through majestic trees and wildlife is terrifying and detrimental, but it is also necessary for the environment of these forests to survive as new life springs through the remains of a past fire. For the skiers in The Burn, it also brought some new lines in some fresh powder.

Heaven’s Gate was one of those nail-biting, hold-your-breath films as viewers watched Jeb Corliss prepare for one of his most intimidating wingsuit flights – flying through the sacred site known as Heaven’s Gate located at Tianmen Mountain in China. Along with a group of his friends and also fellow wingsuit athletes, Corliss makes as many jumps as he can to prepare himself to fly through this archway carved out of the mountain. Corliss knows that there’s no room for error. Nearly half a billion people were watching the events live as Corliss dropped out of the helicopter toward Heaven’s Gate to see if his flight would be successful.

The Last Ice Merchant portrayed a glimpse into the life of Baltazar Ushca. He is the last ice merchant of a long-lived tradition of harvesting glacial ice from the tallest mountain in Ecuador. This extremely dedicated and hard worker will harvest the ice until the day he dies. He travels up to five hours up the mountain with his donkey to break the ice from the mountain and craftily wraps the chunks of ice in a bounty of hay. The ice is then delivered to his loyal customers. His dedication was exceptionally inspiring.

North of the Sun (Nordfor Sola) was a film of two young Norwegian adventurers that discovered their own private playground at a place tucked between the cold Atlantic Ocean and the rocky slopes of a remote, arctic island. Here they built a mini cabin out of debris they collected from the beach and lived for the long winter months engaging in cold surfing in low light and snowboarding. Not only did they really learn how to appreciate the simple things in life and live very minimally, but they also cleaned up over three tons of washed-up waste on the beach they inhabited.

Not Bad was an all-out fun-fest film of bikers that gathered in New Zealand for some serious biking in fields, on man-made ramps, trails, and wherever they could get their wheels on. They made the tricks and stunts look so easy and flawless, and there was certainly some freeride mountain biking fever going on among the spectators.

Sufferfest was really just that – true suffering for professional climbers Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright. Now granted they brought it on themselves, it was definitely a major push through uncharted territory with the two road biking to all of California’s 14,000-foot peaks in order to climb them. Keep in mind that biking is really not their forte. There were many times where Honnold and Wright just looked plain miserable, but they were, as always, very entertaining even in their suffering.

If you didn’t catch the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Salt Lake City, Utah, visit the Banff Centre Web site to see if they’ll be touching down close to your town. It’s one of those film festivals that will be worth your time if you enjoy outdoor films.

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