Canadian film festival screens outdoor sports films downtown

by Juliette Torres

Students are the up and coming generation of outdoor enthusiasts, said Miles Swancy, a a customer service representative at Mountain Gear.

Swancy said he urges outdoor buffs of all ages to attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival, but he especially encourages college students. The beauty and uniqueness of the outdoors will eventually be sustained by the efforts that we, as a community, put into saving and preserving the natural world we know today, he said.

Mountain Gear, an outdoor retail store on 2002 N. Division St., brings the film festival to Spokane every year. This year the three day event will be at the Bing Crosby Theater downtown Nov. 16-18.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is a film and book competition at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. The center is an arts organization whose mission is to inspire creativity by providing arts programs and a place for creative thinkers to gather, according to the Banff Centre’s website.

Each year, the film festival shows first in Canada then embarks on a world tour. This year one of the first stops is in Spokane. The festival visits 32 countries starting from the United States and continuing to South Africa, China, Japan, New Zealand and Antarctica, according to Mountain Gear’s website.

“It’s basically a group of small filmmakers who compete against one another and show their skills and experiences with the festival,” Swancy said. “Usually there are giveaways, vendors and a whole lot of food.”

Rock climbing, mountaineering, kayaking, mountain biking and surfing were some of the outdoor sports featured at last year’s festival, said Mark Beattie, assistant manager at Mountain Gear. Cultural pieces were also featured, such as films about Nepal and Tibet.

The films being screened in Spokane this year have not been confirmed yet, but may include some of 2012’s festival winners. Two Australian adventurers make the icy trek through Antarctica to the South Pole and back in the film that won the festival’s grand prize. Other awarded films follow Afghan first-time skiers who train to compete in Afghanistan’s first ever downhill ski competition, and Himalayan nomads who are faced with a decision to sell their herds and leave their land or abandon their wandering lifestyle.

“You can find anything from skiing, to climbing, to snowboarding,” Swancy said. “It’s a tremendous experience.”

While the majority of the films shown are of others pursuing their dreams and enjoying the wilderness, part of the message that Banff hopes to get out is preservation of the earth’s natural landscapes and wildlife. The Banff Centre teamed up with key organizations such as National Geographic, North Face and Parcs Canada who share Banff’s mission of celebrating wild places and encouraging exploration.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival will be at the Bing Crosby Theater at 901 W. Sprague Ave. Nov. 16-18. Entrance is $15 for one day and $40 for all three days.

Contact Juliette Torress at

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