Every year for the past few years I’ve been to the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s showings in London, and this year will be no different. Banff Mountain Film Festival claims to be the outdoor industry’s most prestigious mountain film festival, and it’s probably justified in that claim. The festival started in Alberta, Canada in 1976 and is a competition (and presentation) of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports and environments.
The festival itself is held in Autumn and then a selection of the best films goes on tour around the world, visiting approximately 305 cities in 20 countries. This year (2016) the tour is coming to the UK January-May and has showings in London in Angel during March. The showings are held in the Union Chapel, a church in Angel that’s an award winning venue. There’s something quite nice about being welcomed into a venue that’s a bit different with a few free Clif bars and some competitions to enter before sitting down to watch some amazing people do some pretty awe-inspiring stuff. There’s normally competitions to win prizes from the sponsors, this year the tour is presented by Cotsworld Outdoor and Keen with partners including Osprey, Buff and JetBoil you can be sure there’ll be some good stuff up for grabs.
There are two programmes of films, a Red and a Blue (occasionally there’s a bonus Green too). I try to see them all each year and I’ve never regretted a trip. This year the Red programme is packed full of films that sound great, including ones about climbing, ultramarathons, female skiing, wild horses and dogs. There’s also a mountain bike segment from UnReal, which you may have seen at the Adventure Film Festival which was on in Whitechapel a few months ago. I’m really excited about the Red programme. The Blue programme includes one of my favourite films of the year; Eclipse, about a photographer called Reuben Krabbe trying to capture the perfect picture of a skiier during the 2015 solar eclipse. The Blue programme also features one of the films I’m most excited to see in this year’s line-up; 55 Hours in Mexico, which is all about weekend worriers (people that work in office jobs but try to go on adventures over the weekend) going on a trip to Mexico to climb and ski the continent’s highest volcano during a weekend.