Banff Mountain Film Festival marks 25th year coming to Boone


Hiatt Ellis

Ceci Bockoven gives a brief introduction on the films before the screening begins.

Maggie Watts, Reporter

Boone’s outdoor enthusiasts and film lovers were transported to a world of snow-capped mountain peaks, adventurous, rocky climbs and worldwide exploration at the international Banff Mountain Film Festival tour Sept. 10-11. 

An audience member flips through the Banff Mountain Film Festival magazine provided at the door. (Hiatt Ellis)

Showcasing films from Argentina to Baffin Island to the Patagonia Mountains, the Banff Mountain Film Festival took place at the Schaefer Center for its 25th year in Boone. This nature-centered event featured 14 films covering topics related to outdoor living and exploration.

“We brought it as a way to showcase really cool mountain oriented films related to mountain sports, mountain cultures, mountain adventures and the environment,” said Richard Cambell, University Recreation associate director.

Banff Mountain Film Festival is based in Banff, Alberta. Each year, the event showcases approximately 400 nature-oriented films and documentaries from 40 countries. 

The winning films are then selected to tour internationally, and the tour has been coming to Boone for almost three decades.

App State junior Ceci Bockoven organized student volunteers and hosted the Sept. 10 screenings. She said she enjoyed the wide diversity of film themes.

“It’s not just about watching incredibly fit people climb the tallest mountain in the world or Red Bull athletes doing crazy stuff. It’s also about failure and family and the universal joy of being outside,” Bockoven said. 

Katie Every

She said App State’s location makes it the ideal spot for this “mountain icon” event.

“We have such a wealth of mountain culture and Appalachian culture here at ASU, as well as a large outdoor community. That makes the show feel more like a family movie night than a film festival,” Bockoven said.

App State senior Jeremy Doblin hosted the Sept. 11 screenings. He said the event drew nature-lovers from all over North Carolina.

“App State is known for being an outdoorsy school. You kind of have that niche of people that come out,” Doblin said. 

Campbell, Bockoven and Doblin recognized the second night’s feature film, “Cholitas,” as their favorite screening of the weekend. Directed by Jaime Murciego and Pablo Iraburu, this Spain-based documentary follows five Indigenous Bolivian women on a climbing expedition to the Aconcagua mountain peak in Argentina. 

“It was just a really cool film about liberation and empowerment, more so even than climbing,” Campbell said. “That’s what really resonated with me.”

Local band, The Coyotes, perform as the opening act before the screening begins Sept. 10. (Hiatt Ellis)

Both nights began with local bands performing live music on stage at the Schaefer Center. Previous years included raffles, photo contests and speakers, but COVID-19 changed the routine. Bockoven said this year had a strong focus on the films alone rather than additional activities.

After canceling last year’s festival due to the pandemic, Campbell said he felt excited to finally bring it back. Following Schaefer Center guidelines, September’s event only seated 800 people and enforced mask-wearing.

“All the tickets were sold out. So, it was definitely a little disappointing, at least in my mind, not seeing the Schaefer Center completely full,” Doblin said. “But there was still a really large crowd, and it was kind of awesome to see everyone come out and be so engaged with the film festival.”