Banff Mountain Film Festival (Red Programme)
 Click the images to visit the website and pages

Click the images to visit the website and pages

Is it possible to ice-skate when you have trouble walking? 90 year old Yvonne Dowlen proves unequivocally that it is. Her reason is simple, her shoes don't have edges, her skates do! Edges, a film by Katie Stjernholm was a beautiful and moving portrait of an athlete who demonstrates that age is not a barrier to participation or competition. Yvonne overcame injury and a stroke, getting back on the ice and fighting for what she loved.  The film is a reminder for all of us to continue with our endeavours for as long as we are able.  It resonated for me with my own Grandma, who was leading her own walking group until she was 80 and at 83 still goes for a walk every day.

 Yvonne Dowlin,  Edges , Katie Stjernholm.

Yvonne Dowlin, Edges, Katie Stjernholm.

This kind of passion comes from a lifelong relationship with sport that is sparked in our youths.  Imagination by Tom Wallisch follows the daydreams of a child who magically animates a mundane car journey - punctuated by his parents bickering - with a mischievous skier, jumping between rooftops, grinding rails and gliding through a snow-covered town.  This humorous and heartwarming film brought a smile to my face and filled the room with palpable nostalgia for our own childhood adventures in and out of our imaginations.

Creativity is fostered in childhood but a desire to play and be playful - if carried through into adulthood - can make us happier and more adventurous.  Micayla Gatto's Intersection is bursting with a vibrant approach to life, combining art and mountain-biking in beautiful synchronicity. We flow down glorious single-tracks as the forest blends with Gatto's own illustrations, and, as with Wallisch's film, Intersection brings Gatto's imagination to life.

 Micayla Gatto,  Intersection

Micayla Gatto, Intersection

In Ice Call, freeride skier Sam Favret makes Mer De Glace his playground, skiing right through the heart of the ice, finding tunnels, half-pipes and jumps, as he creates his own journey through one of Mount Blanc massif's most famous glaciers.  The world has become Favret's skatepark and we are brought along for the ride.

But adventure is often hard, can be isolating and does go wrong.  The film festival wasn't short of these reminders either.  The Frozen Road gains a full-house, featuring all of the above.  Ben Page filmed this short section of his around the world cycle trip entirely on his own and edited it throughout the following stages of his journey.  It is a stark reminder of the incredible highs and incredible lows we can feel as we push the boundaries of our adventures.  Page battles with his own attempts to balance solitude, whilst trying to avoid sickening isolation but finds both as he struggles to reach his goal in the far North of the Canadian Arctic. Romanticism abounds in many adventure films but anyone who has teetered on the edge of disaster in their own adventures will relate to Page's honest and heartfelt account, that is certainly far from romantic.

You don't have to be alone to feel isolation, Into Twin Galaxies had me watching through my fingers, and at times unable to watch at all, as the challenges stacked up for Ben Stookesbury, Sarah McNair-Landry and Erik Boomer.  Seeking out a river that may or may not exist on the far side of the Greenland Ice Cap, this intrepid team towed their kayaks across crevasse-ridden terrain, forced them down frozen rivers and kite-skied across vast, seemingly endless plateaus. The sheer grit of this film is admirable and insane in equal measure, creating a brutal adventure that I'm sure few would want to repeat but that creates incredible viewing from a safe distance!

It's hard not to leave Banff film festival feeling inspired but climber Maureen Beck smashes through the negative associations that can come with this word for disabled climbers.  Cedar Wright and Taylor Keating's film 'Stumped' follows Beck's project tackling a gruelling 5.12 route and at the same time addressing stereotypes, misconceptions, preconceptions and cringeworthy media representation with hilarious clarity.  Beck, who was born missing the lower part of her left arm, doesn't want to be known as a disabled climber, and she certainly doesn't climb to be your inspiration, Beck climbs purely for the love of climbing (with the occasional cupcake and beer)! 

 Maureen Beck,  Stumped,  Cedar Wright and Taylor Keating

Maureen Beck, Stumped, Cedar Wright and Taylor Keating

If you haven't caught one of the screenings yet, you have until the 19th of May!