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BANFF film festival brings adventure to Boone

BANFF+film+festival+brings+adventure+to+Boone
Kaitlyn Close

In the beginning, there was darkness. Then, the roar of a packed Schaefer Center for Performing Arts auditorium as the trailer for the 2024 BANFF Mountain Film Festival exploded onto the screen.

BANFF has played to excited crowds at App State for 27 years as of March. Featuring short films from around the world by premiere skiers, climbers, bikers and other adventurers, it’s no wonder the Boone community rallies around the event.

“I think what makes this place special is our mountain culture,” said Jacob Norris, the coordinator for outdoor programs with University Recreation. “I think this is just another way for us to showcase what mountain culture looks like.”

While the film festival itself is based in Canada, its focus on outdoor recreation leads to some familiar sights for Boone residents or App State students. Films at BANFF often feature the mid-air feats of rock climbers, a popular activity in the rocky High Country and a big part of the Student Recreation Center facility; the climbing wall just inside its doors is constantly populated by students with chalk-stained hands and a belt full of carabiners.

BANFF also loves to spotlight winter sports. While the group’s trek across Kyrgyzstan isn’t exactly the same as a drive up Beech Mountain, the 2024 BANFF selection “Chronoception” is cheer-worthy for skiers. As the French team shredded the slopes of remote snowy mountains, the audience at the Schaefer Center gasped and applauded. 

There’s an inspirational quality to BANFF’s films. Witnessing athletes and adventurers taking on the elements in every corner of the world motivates an audience to do the same in their backyard. This is an effect vendors take every advantage of. During intermission, the lobby of the Schaefer Center filled with people visiting tables for outdoor gear shops like Footsloggers and ReGear, rock climbing gyms like Center 45 and outdoor activist groups like Appalachian Voices and A Clean Wilson Creek. 

Jamie Goodman is an App State alumna and High Country local who has been attending the festival since its first incarnation at App State, back when it was hosted in the much smaller I.G. Greer Studio Theatre. Twenty-seven years later, she’s only missed two festivals.

“Every year is different, every year has its own flavor, but the movies are always amazing,” Goodman said. “Everybody’s so enthusiastic. There’s my core little group of friends that I come with, but there’s so many people I know that come, that’ve been coming for years. We all see each other, it’s sort of like a little homecoming.”

At App State, BANFF wants to keep people like Goodman coming back. The proceeds from BANFF ticket sales go towards student trips with Outdoor Programs.

“We did our spring break backpacking trip, which was fantastic,” Norris said. “We hold weekend trips to Worley’s Cave, we hold weekend trips to Price Lake and do some stand-up paddleboarding. We do some day hiking around here.”

BANFF is the reason those trips can happen and remain affordable for students, Norris said. In the future, he hopes to see more trips that take students even further, like the nine-day trip to the Everglades Outdoor Programs during winter break of the 2022-23 academic year.

BANFF shows the world the most impressive feats of human courage, ability and resourcefulness. With its influence on App State and the mountain adventurers of the High Country, it would be no surprise to see the Boone community featured one day too.

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About the Contributors
Pruett Norris
Pruett Norris, Multimedia Editor
Pruett Norris (he/him) is a senior double majoring in English with a concentration in Film Studies and Electronic Media/Broadcasting. This is his second year with The Appalachian.
Kaitlyn Close
Kaitlyn Close, Graphics Editor
Kaitlyn Close (she/her) is a senior Graphic Design major and Digital Marketing minor. This is her second year with The Appalachian.
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