There was a lot of hype leading up to this Wednesday, Feb. 20, in the Outing Club. Hamilton College had the opportunity to host a very special event: the Banff Mountain Film Festival, sponsored by the Hamilton Outing Club for the 15th year. The Film Festival is the largest in the world despite being very niche - it only deals with films about the wilderness, mountaineering, stunt pulling, and your everyday life-threatening situations.
Under this umbrella of adventuring and extreme sports, the Banff Mountain Film Festival, a program presented by the Banff Center, seeks to bring together “writers, filmmakers, photographers, musicians, artists, thinkers, leaders, and performers from all over the world,” as stated in the magazine that was given out during the festival.
At Hamilton Banff shared eight short films, the most notable of which was “Crossing the Ice” a film produced and directed by Justin Jones about two intrepid friends, Cas and Jonesy. These two Australians decided to learn how to ski by being the first humans to complete an unassisted journey from the edge of Antarctica to the South Pole, and back. It was a trial by ice, so to speak. Along the way, they encountered a Norwegian nemesis who ended up turning into their mentor, and in the spirit of outdoorsman-ship, waited for them three kilometers out from the finish line instead of making the voyage a race.
This, however, was the least of what they endured. After the first hurdle of standing upright on their skis, a predicted 5 percent chance of success, starvation, isolation and unspeakable chafing seemed like no brainers to Cas and Jonesy. In addition to taking the viewer from heartbroken to gleeful during the scope of the movie, “Crossing the Ice” won three awards from the Banff Mountain Film Festival including the Grand Prize, the People’s Choice, and the Best Film, Exploration and Adventure.
Two other memorable films were “The Gimp Monkeys,” produced by Fitz Cahall and directed by Mikey Schaefer, and “Industrial Revolutions” produced by Mike Christie and directed by Stu Thompson. “The Gimp Monkeys” is just a film about three guys climbing an awesome wall. Except that the three guys only have four legs and five arms between them. If you do the math, that’s two missing legs -- one from cancer and the other from a fall, and one missing arm - he was born without it. These inspiring people made up the first all-disabled team to make it to the top of one of the most iconic walls in the U.S.: El Capitan. Although they were all disabled, the climbers chose to downplay this with a “missing-limbs-won’t-stop-us” attitude.
As for “Industrial Revolutions,” it’s Danny MacAskill pulling off crazy stunts on
his bike in an abandoned industrial ironworks factory. The film won a Special Jury Mention from Banff. This isn’t Danny’s first film either; there has been one of him called “Way Home” floating around the Internet. Although not shown in the Banff Mountain Film Festival, it is still a recommended watch of him doing tricks on his bike all the way from Edinburgh back to his hometown Dunvegan, in the Isle of Skye.
In addition to all the excitement about the films, there was enthusiasm about a
raffle and bags of free coffee beans from the Kicking Horse coffee company, whose delightful motto is “May the horse be with you.” The raffle was drawn out of a bear canister in typical HOC fashion. Among the prizes were The Ultimate Hiker's Gear Guide from National Geographic, several high-tech self-filtering water bottles, and a backpack from Deuter Sport.