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Excitement builds for Banff Mountain Film Festival

The above image is from the film Crossing the Ice which was featured in the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival. This year the festival will be held in the newly constructed Schaeffer Center for the Performing Arts. Photos from the film Crossing the Ice. Image © James Castrission and Justin Jones.

The above image is from the film Crossing the Ice which was featured in the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival. This year the festival will be held in the newly constructed Schaeffer Center for the Performing Arts. Photos from the film Crossing the Ice. Image © James Castrission and Justin Jones.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival will make its 17th annual appearance at Appalachian State University on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets already sold out before Labor Day.

Since 1976, upward of 10,000 filmmakers, adventurers, explorers and spectators flock to the tiny town of Banff in Alberta, Canada, in late October to view 400 films from as many as 40 countries. The films all relate to the topics of mountain culture, sport or adventure. 

Over the course of two and a half weeks, an international jury votes on those films until the 50 best are chosen and taken on a world tour of approximately 400 adventurous cities in the world – including one in Antarctica – slowly making their way to the town of Boone.

“It’s probably the world’s preeminent collection of mountain films,” said Rich Campbell, director of Outdoor Programs and organizer for the event.

The event this weekend will feature films selected by Outdoor Programs from the Banff 2012 finalists, as well as guest speakers and appearances by filmmakers and others involved in the films, also chosen by the university.

Boone’s location is seen as a favorite among traveling speakers. 

“Boone has a culture and lifestyle that is reflected in the films touring within the Banff Mountain Film Festival,” said Seana Strain, tour organizer for the U.S. and Canada stretch of the tour. 

Strain visited Boone once with the tour several years ago. 

“Boone has a strong sense of community and that community shows up at this Festival,” she said. “That vibe can be felt before we even roll the opening film.”

The Boone event serves as one of the longest running dates on the tour, Strain said. 

High-energy audiences are anticipated at this weekend’s events, in part because the festival is overdue in Boone. After delaying the usual screening of the 2012 finalists in March, this weekend’s events come in preparation for the October festival in Banff, and its ultimate trip back to Boone again this coming March. 

“It’s been a while since we screened this so I think people are really chomping at the bit,” Campbell said.

This year is the first that the festival will serve as a part of the Performing Arts Series, warranting its use of the new Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts, which recently underwent a name change and a $7 million refurbishing project. 

“It has added such a diverse mix to the series this year, and we are so thrilled to be involved with such a successful event that the community loves to attend every year,” said Megan Stage, marketing and public relations manager for the Office of Arts and Cultural Programs.

The first Banff screening at Appalachian 17 years ago drew in approximately 150 spectators, and since then, the festival has grown exponentially in popularity, selling out last year with 1,734 tickets. 

Boone’s success, along with that of the next closest stop in Brevard, have sparked interest among organizers in adding another tour date in the region. Organizers attribute this success to the pride that those who live in the Appalachian region have about the nature that surrounds them. 

“Even people who aren’t hardcore into the mountains, the people who don’t go out paddling or rock climbing every weekend, even those people are still really excited and take a lot of pride in the location here at ASU,” Campbell said.

This excitement is felt at the national and international levels as well. Strain calls Appalachian students and coordinators “open-minded and curious to travel to all corners of the world through the films and to take part in a myriad of adventures, even if from a theatre seat.”

STORY: LOVEY COOPER, Senior A&E Reporter
Photo from the film Crossing the Ice. Image copyright James Castrission and Justin Jones.

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