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Having considered moving to the beautiful town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies a few years ago the thought of an international film festival showcasing the town’s adventurous spirit appealed to me in an instant.

Banff is a stunning mountain town nestled in the Canadian Rockies due west of Calgary in the province of Alberta. Known for its adventure seekers and winter sports junkies its a must see place when exploring Canada. I can only liken it to my favorite town in New Zealand, Queenstown. A day doesn’t go by in either town where someone pushes themselves to the edge of their physical potential or tests the limits of their stamina.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour 2013 had begun its international voyage around the globe months before its arrival in Cornwall. Showing films from the four corners of our planet the festival’s goal is simple, to inspire adventures, show others the true beauty of life and, should we dig deep enough, the hidden potential within each one of us to succeed inconceivable goals.

A programme of The Banff Centre Inspiring Creativity and sponsored by Discovery TV, Arcteryx, Cotswold, Patagonia, Buff and Keen Shoes the night attracted some of the most adventurous souls I have met for a longtime. I must admit the audience turn out was fantastic and was an eye opener to how appealing this event would be. The festival’s programme listed 16 of the most inspirational films you could imagine. Climbing, trekking, skiing, camping, kayaking, canoeing, survival skills, bmxing and mountain biking were all covered subjects but despite the range of films only eight were to be shown at the screening I was attending, these were -

Being There

A film following the trials and tribulations of Freeskiing. Packed with emotional highs and lows this 14 film included some of the most breathtaking slow motion aerial cinematography I had seen for a longtime. ‘Being There’ combines fun, determination and raw skill, this is a film for those that like to take risks and push their abilities to the limits. For me though Directors Filip Christian and Even Sigstaf’s greatest achievement was the cinematography, a masterful use of framing, timing and composition to show the hidden beauty of Freeskiing. Check out Being There’s epic trailer here.

Reel Rock: Wide Boyz

Crack climbing has become one of the hardest and most extreme sports in the United States of America. Reel Rock: Wide Boyz documents the efforts of two British underdogs determined to pierce the American dominated sport and conquer the holly grail of American climbing cracks, Century Crack. Supported with interviews from some of the US’s best climbers Tom Randall and Peter Whittaker make perfect subjects for this documentary. Their journey from training in a basement in the UK to climbing Century Crack is one that will have you on the edge of your seat routing for these two remarkable individuals. See the trailer for Tom and Peter’s adventure here.

Strength In Numbers

An action packed film showing just how much fun you can have on two wheels. Following the efforts of mountain bike riders in the US, this 15 minute short combines creative flair with a simple passion for the sport. From training on a self-made dirt track to competing in some of the world’s largest downhill events this film shows the raw scale of the popular sport. An exceptional mixture of slow motion footage, inspiring interviews and a soul fueling soundtrack makes this film a real feast for the senses. See the official trailer for Strength In Numbers here.

Flow Hunters

Shot on location in New Zealand this nine-minute film documents the lengths gone to by some of the world’s greatest paddlers. Skimming over white water rapids, paddling down waterfalls and exploring hidden waterways are what makes this short film so captivating. Due to the speed and nature of the sport most of Flow Hunters is shot from a helicopter. Although it may have been nice to see more on the ground footage the use of an overhead perspective allows the audience to grasp the sheer scale of the subject’s goal. This film reminds us not to underestimate immeasurable forces. A near miss with an overhang and a battering current acts as a sobering reminder highlighting the fine line an adventure junky walks along in order to pursue their dreams.

Reel Rock: Honnold 3.0

Alex Honnold is one of America’s best climbers. A pure natural at the art of climbing his reputation has brought him global attention and with it the additional pressure of making bigger and bolder climbs. In Reel Rock: Honnold 3.0 Alex does the unthinkable; he attempts to climb the three highest peaks in Yosemite National Park, Mt. Watkins, El Capitan and Half Dome all within 24hrs. Using ropes for only 5% of his record attempt Alex ignites the fire within in the audience and reminds us that with determination and a little guts we can achieve more than we think. Alex’s approach to life in captivating, living out of a van and just doing what he loves makes for a great film. My favourite scene has to be when Alex is climbing in the dead of night and hears a whoosh noise beside him. With a look of confusion Alex soon realises that odd sound was a base jumper passing within feet of him. The darkness brings an unearthly element to the scene but perfectly magnifies the dangers associated with climbing at night without any safety ropes. Check out this clip of Alex’s record attempt.

Ernest

Five minutes that will make you smile and realise what is truly important in life. Ernest is an endearing mountain man from Colorado who shows us that the difference between survival in the wild and modern world is not a vast as we may have first thought. His attitude to life is remarkable but his broad accent steals the show. Having spent a lot of time exploring the United States I didn’t really struggle to understand him but the use of subtitles allowed everyone to absorb Enest’s wise words about life and how to overcome difficulties. He is the perfect grandfather material who has lived and loved but this beautiful short reminds us that this unique breed of mountain men is becoming rarer and rarer by the day. Director Samuel Bricker does a great job and within 300 seconds has you laughing, sighing and wanting more, this is a must see for any survival fan. Here is a clip of Ernest doing what he does best.

Crossing The Ice

Cas and Jonesy’s epic adventure to trek unsupported from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole and back is nothing short of breathtaking. Winner of the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s Grand Prize, Best Film On Adventure & Exploration and The People’s Choice Award this was clearly the best film at the screening. 44 minutes in length reflects the scale of their 89-day goal to set a new world record in -40c temperatures. With Aleksander Gamme (a rival Norwegian explorer) keen to set the same record, Cas and Jonesy must dig deep to even come close to achieving their goal. The cold proves to be a tough opponent for the two Australians but its during these difficult times that we see the true strength of the duo’s friendship. Christmas day has to be my favourite scene of the entire film with Cas and Jonesy’s final encounter with Alex coming a close second. If I were to buy any one of the films on show at the festival it would be this one, it is outstanding and will inspire you to get off the couch and have an adventure of your own. Click here to see the official trailer for Crossing The Ice.

Lily Shreds Trailside

A sweet four-minute film about Lily the dog. This film was totally unexpected but the perfect end to the night. This short treat shows the simple enthusiasm a small dog has to follow its owner down a mountain bike trail. I don’t really want to say too much about this film as I would like you to view it for yourself but it lit the audience up and reminded us all that sometimes the simplest things in life are the most precious. Click here to see it for yourself.

I would like to say a big thank you to The Hall For Cornwall in Truro for staging the event; it was a great night and the perfect way to inspire others to be more adventurous. So much so half way through the night my best friend who was sat next to me jumped online and ordered himself a new GoPro3 camera to shoot his next adventure with. The free raffle during the interval was also far more than the audience could have ever expected with prizes including outdoor equipment and clothing. If you ever get the chance to see the festival I would strongly urge you to do so, it will broaden your horizons, make a member of the Banff Film Fest Family and encourage you to see life from a new perspective.