Banff Film Festival highlights outdoor activities for its 23rd year in Boone

Savannah Nguyen, Senior A&C Reporter

From the skin-ripping cold of the Patagonia mountains to the damp backwoods of British Columbia, Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour brought stories of triumph, tradition and outdoor expeditions to Boone for the 23rd year.

For two days each year, over 1,500 people come to Boone for the film festival. The town of Banff, wrapped in the Rocky Mountains where the festival has run for 43 years is similar to the small community of Boone. Mom and pop shops line the streets, tourists can rent outdoor gear on street corners and the town is completely surrounded by mountains. 

The festival brings together audiences from different geographical and personal backgrounds to share this annual bonding experience at Banff.

Joe Quinn, a retired geology professor at App State, has attended the festival for the 23 consecutive years it has toured at the university.

“There has become a cult of people who come here to see this in Boone, this annual bonding experience,” Quinn said. “This is very much a group bonding experience. In fact, you’ll probably see people who you only get to see once a year.”

Fans of the festival consider Quinn the catalyst for bringing Banff to Boone.

“Richard Campbell, who is now the director of Outdoor Programs, was my grad assistant when I was the director, and I told him we needed to bring Banff here,” Quinn said.

Forty-five screenings later, he does not get sweaty palms or heart palpitations when he sees athletes go to extremes or when he takes in the natural beauty of the world on-screen, Quinn said.

For some, experiencing the films as a member of Banff’s audience is an experience like no other.

“There is a feeling of connectedness to what you’re seeing with the people around you. It’s truly a feeling I don’t get at any other time at any other event,” said Michelle Boisclair, executive director at Business Career Services.

Amy Odum, associate director of BCS, said the festival had a larger message for the future of the community.

“We cultivate appreciation with our students on the elementary, middle and high school levels,” Odum said. “We all have this shared appreciation for the landscape and with that we can potentially be inspired to do anything, like those on-screen.”

App State’s Office of Arts and Cultural Programs held a screening for K-12 before the premiere of the festival.  Lonnie Bedwell, guest speaker for the event, also led a workshop on March 23 before the second day of screenings.

The festival is a way to share Bedwell’s story and a platform to promote the mission of his life’s work as a trainer and motivator. Bedwell told his story as a blind veteran living with disabilities who kayaked the entirety of the Grand Canyon.

“I want to motivate and inspire others to embrace life with confidence and courage,” Bedwell said. 

Outdoor Programs, the Turchin Center and Virtual Blue Ridge continued the Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition for its 16th year. The competition allows amateurs and professionals to share their perspective of the Southern Appalachians. The exhibition will run until June 1 in the Turchin Center.

“We have such a cool mountain community here in Boone, and through photography we celebrate our love for the community more through these images and encourage more people to contribute every year,” said Campbell.

Over the span of two nights, 36 films were shown representing 40 countries in over 550 locations.

Campbell said an overarching theme of the festival is that everyone is entitled to an active lifestyle.

Siebe Vanhee, one of three climbers in the featured 30-minute short, “Notes From the Wall,” recalled when he was stuck clinging to rock in the Patagonia mountains en route to one of the hardest trails on a 1,200-meter-high journey.

“Rock climbing is more than just a sport,” Vanhee said. “When I set out to help make this movie after the climb, I wanted to make something real, and the depth of climbing is a beautiful example for representing that. Everything manifesting in that challenge represents frustration, love and humor. Remember, with a good vibe, you can do much more than anything you could ever think of.”