BANFF Mountain Film Festival

Vlad Voinich, Staff Reporter

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On Wednesday, Jan. 30, Whitman hosted the BANFF Film Festival — one of the most popular events among Whitman students. The line-up consisted of 11 films that were dedicated to sports and environment. The event took place in Cordiner Hall and started off with a brief introduction by the daughter of one of the founders of the project. The audience was full of people who have been waiting for this event since the last year’s screening — including a significant number of Walla Walla community members.

The BANFF World Tour is an annual event that encompasses a wide range of outdoors sports as well as incredible shooting and storytelling. It was launched in 1976 and has since received international attention. The Festival is dedicated to mountain culture, sports and environment. Each year the selected films are shown in multiple cities in 20 countries of the world.

The films varied from short dynamic videos about extreme sports, such as alpine skiing or mountain biking, to longer feature films, such as “The Passage” (2018) by Nathan Dappen and Neil Losin. Taking place in 1974, the film follows a group of friends as they decide to build a couple of canoes and row from Washington to Alaska up the Inside Passage, a route for boats on the Northwest Coast. The 25-minute film is filled with love, meaningful monologues, intergenerational wisdom, as well as stunning views of the Pacific Northwest coast. Another notable film was “The Beaver Believers: Meet Sherri Tippie,” directed by a Whitman alum, Sarah Koenigsberg.

One of the most remarkable films in the line-up was “Fast Horse” (2018) by Alexandra Lazarowich — a director that focuses on telling stories of Native Americans. The film talks about a horseracing tradition called the Indian Relay and Allison Red Crow’s team who try to compete with the best riders in the Blackfoot Confederacy.

“It’s definitely a bit different than the common trope of extreme outdoors sports. Something I’ve never seen before, and I think that the storytelling was really interesting, the visuals were phenomenal. I just connected a lot with that,” said Leo Corrales ’21.

Indeed, several films, such as “For the Love of Mary,” “The Moment,” “Fast Horse,” “The Passage” and “Reel Rock 12: Break On Through,” focus on personal stories and experiences. “For the Love of Mary,” for instance, is a touching 6-minute film about a 97-year-old runner George Ertzweiler who runs in memory of his wife Mary.

“Something I noticed about this year’s selection as a whole was that it seemed to focus more on stories than just awesome action shots. When you put people’s personal experiences in combination with the outdoors it adds another layer of meaning,” said Corrales.

The stories told by the directors are inspiring and insightful. They focus a lot on overcoming fears and struggles and finding one’s own passion and dedication to something unique and meaningful.

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