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Anybody else disappointed in Banff films this year?


Original Post
Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549

I know the line up varies from city to city, so maybe not applicable outside the bubble.

I went both nights, didn't think anything was particularly a stand out.
Few real stories, most seemed to be more a film looking for a marketable subject.
Not much joie de sport either.

Feeling cranky.
Happy to bash on specific films if anyone is interested.

Did enjoy a few. Voyagers Without Trace and Eclipse kept my attention.

JeffL · · Salt Lake City · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 65

I was quite disappointed last year, didn't even go this year. Rad reels seems to be significantly better

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

I'm going tonight (and tomorrow and Saturday). Did the mix you saw include "Unbranded"? The full length version is on Netflix. It's amazing.
From my perspective, the overall quality of the films has been going up over the last few years. On the other hand, there have been more than a few that have been little more than "What I did on my summer vacation".
I'll comment further this weekend.

Mark E Dixon · · Sprezzatura, Someday · Joined Nov 2007 · Points: 549
Victor K wrote:Did the mix you saw include "Unbranded"? The full length version is on Netflix. It's amazing.
Unbranded was the long film the first night. I liked it well enough, but thought it lacked dramatic tension. Also never got a feel for what made the mustangs so special- they came across to me as just regular horses. Might be a victim of being abridged for the festival.

At least it seemed like they would have made the trip for it's own sake, even if they weren't making a movie. Which is more than could be said for several of the films.
K2tbui · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2012 · Points: 50

Saw the festival 3-4 years ago. Left the theater asking myself "what the heck was that? Glad to see that it is still a disappointment. Not sure how it got popular in the first place.

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

After the first evening, here are some observations:
55 Hours in Mexico - Entertaining mini-epic about bad ideas. Funny and and the right length (short).
Women's Speed Ascent - 4 minutes (!) Well done recap of the latest women's speed record on El Cap.
The Last Dragons - Nature doc about Hellbenders, a river salamander. Well put together and I learned something new. Yay!
Living Rivers - A short film about some guys who figured out how to surf in a river in Montana. People are awesome, etc. etc. Meh.
A Line Across the Sky - Part of Reel Rock 10. Not to be missed. Best climbing film in a while.
Denali - A touching portrait of a boy and his dog. Dusty in that theater. Well done, and quite moving.
unReal - mountain biking film, great photography and a poor ambassador for the sport. Makes mountain bikes seem like dirt bikes with more annoying motors. Makes no sense.
Climbing Ice: The Iceland Trifecta - Outdoor folks should not philosophize on camera, filmmakers should stay out of frame. Terrible. There was some nice photography.
Chasing Niagara - Broventure regarding a planned attempt to go over Niagara Falls in a kayak. Surprise ending makes up for irritating sausage fest. Somewhat against type for a Red Bull film.
Nature Rx - Delightful 1 minute film.
In summary, 2 out 10 I could have done without. 1 was annoying but thought provoking in an unexpected way. 5 were pleasant to very good short films. 2 were great. As usual, the Paramount was sold out and the crowd was enthusiastic. Overall, it was lesser than previous BMFWT I've been to, but it still made for a fun evening.

Wally · · Denver · Joined Apr 2006 · Points: 0

Good summary, Victor. Yeah, a really enjoyable evening last night. Looking forward to the next 2 Denver shows!

Victor K · · Denver, CO · Joined Jul 2003 · Points: 165

So, a bit late, but here are some observations about the Friday and Saturday shows of the Banff World Tour:
Friday -
The Warmth of Winter - Powder skiing in Japan. Extra pretty photography, and some self-conscious film school touches. Highlights include some very nice night skiing shots.
Salween Spring - Wonderful portrait of an American river rat who's taken his passion to China. Super inspiring, particularly given how threatened wild rivers are over there (they love building dams). It's a pleasure to watch little kids learning how to handle white water. +1!
Kroger's Canteen - The highest restaurant in Colorado! It's a pit stop for a 100 mile cross country footrace. Not particularly innovative film making, but a very good, emotionally rich story.
Voyagers Without Trace - A standout! Juxtaposes the first kayak descent of the Green and Colorado rivers by a trio of French adventurers with a modern trip covering the same territory. Features historic footage that may be the first ever color adventure movie. Mesmerizing.
Darklight - Well lit nighttime mountain bike footage. Pretty. Empty.
Sounds of Paragliding - A 4 minute introduction to Theo de Blic, and aerobatic paragliding pilot. Puckery. And he's in his mid-teens.
Blue Hue - A 5 minute film about a woman who swims naked in high mountain lakes in the winter. Also puckery,for different reasons.
Project Mina - A great climbing doc about Mina Leslie-Wujastyk. Very personal warts and all portrait. The final send of the film is one to inspire.
Eclipse - Another standout. This is the story of a photographers quest to capture a photo of a skier silhouetted by a total eclipse of the sun. Best ski film I've seen in a long time. The skiers are happy to ski in Svalbard, while the photographer is working his butt off to figure out where to get the shot he envisions. Highly recommended.
Overall, Friday surpassed the previous evening. None of the films were bad, and the least interesting film (Blue Hue), was nice and short.

Saturday:
The Important Place - A river trip and an exploration of the relationship between an aging father and his son. Highly recommended.
Builder - Mountain bike trail builders and the amazing feats empowered by their effort. Excellent riding, and a 9 year old that shreds.
Pretty Face - Ski movie, kind of a mess from story telling perspective, but has some great footage of an elite big mountain skier as a tyke. Parents will be amused.
Unbranded - A very disappointing edit of a terrific feature length film. Everything that made the trip challenging (and interesting!) at an interpersonal level has been removed from the tour edit. Watch it on Netflix.
Curiosity - A group of ultra-runners taking on a route around Monte Blanc. Unfortunately, the film pays little attention to the most interesting person in the group, and winds up looking kind of sexist. BTW, there's 31,000 feet of elevation gain in the race. HFS!
Operation Moffat - A look a Gwen Moffat, Britain's first female climbing guide. Beautifully filmed, and has some great climbing. Highly recommended.
The Rocky Mountains Traverse - Did you know that cross country travel by para-wing was a thing? Will Gadd and Gavin McGlurg ride 700 km along the spine of the Canadian Rockies. Spectacular, well shot and worth your time.
Paradise Waits - Angel Collinson showing us all how it's done in Alaska. Jaw dropping.

On the whole, the films seemed a bit short on climbing and skiing, the bread and butter of Banff. On the other hand, the climbing films were excellent, and there's some evidence that ski films are starting to get more interesting. As usual, these movies really make you want to get outside.

Rocky_Mtn_High · · Arvada, CO · Joined Apr 2010 · Points: 230

I was surprised how much I enjoyed the line-up on Saturday evening. I would have said that I generally prefer the adrenaline rush of Radical Reels, but I decided the breadth of stories and cinematography in the broader Banff movies is actually more enjoyable on the whole.

To each his/her own: unlike Victor, I was enthralled by "Branded" and felt that it offered the highlight of the night (even though not a climbing film), so now I can't wait to see the full version on Netflix, per Victor's recommendation. On the other hand, I didn't much care for Operation Moffat, but I agree that the footage and story in Gadd's and McGlurg's flights down the spine of the Canadian Rockies were spectacular and compelling!

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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