We may have recently arrived at an ideal viewing sit"/>

The movies we can’t wait to release from the Banff Virtual Festival

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We may have recently arrived at an ideal viewing situation for film festivals. After hosting virtual screenings during the pandemic, many festivals are returning with hybrid programs that give audiences the option to choose between getting the full experience in person or saving on a plane ticket and watching pay-per-view movies in the comfort of their own sofa. . The latter is not a bad idea when it comes to Banff Center Mountain Film and Book Festival, which returns from October 30 to November 7 with such an abundance of films set in frigid locations that a heavy blanket should be required for viewings. There is skiing (lots of skiing), ice climbing, ultrarunning, and a 1,200 mile hike on the aptly named Ice Age Trail. Banff attendees can purchase tickets for individual in-person programs or connect to virtual event with a full festival pass ($ 99) or rental of individual programs and films ($ 12 – $ 25). These world premieres are at the top of our list to check out this year (with, yes, a weighted 16-pound blanket).

“Path of rupture”

Emily Ford is truly living her dream of being a professional gardener, hiking and spending lots of quality time with an Alaskan Husky named Diggins, who joined her on a 1,200 mile hike on the Age Trail of Wisconsin Ice Cream in March of this year. This means she has walked in the snow, in temperatures as low as minus 37 degrees Fahrenheit, while carrying a bag weighing over 60 pounds. Unsurprisingly, Ford is only the second person – and the first woman and person of color – to complete the grueling trip over the winter. Breaking path follows the charming duo of Ford and Diggins as they manage to find their own Track Angels on the journey. It’s a great buddy movie – Ford is hilarious even when his Nalgene is frozen, and Diggins has quite the personality. But it also develops themes related to Ford’s larger goal of fostering a more inclusive outdoors and encouraging more people of color to join her on the trail. “No one should think that the outdoors is not for them,” she says in the film. “If you just don’t feel like you do the trick, there’s a spot for you outside and there’s a spot for you on the trail.”

‘To confine’

“Ultra trail running 100 kilometers or more is not healthy,” said sports physiotherapist Blaise Dubois at the start of To confine. Alas! The main subject of this documentary, professional ultrarunner Mathieu Blanchard, plans to run not only 100 kilometers, but 650 (or approximately 400 miles) in one week as he crosses the Quebec GR A1 segment of the International Appalachian Trail. It’s close to where he lives in Montreal, but about as far as one can get from the comforts of home. There are boulders to climb over, narrow white-knuckle trails to hike, and nearly 100,000 feet of elevation gain. And he’s doing it while navigating home stay restrictions amid COVID-19: The movie begins in April 2020 as he trains for the attempt. (To confine means ‘confined’ in French.) In the end, Blanchard is doing a more extreme version of what many of the lucky ones among us did during the pandemic: finding new ways to spend the days and enjoy the activities that our immediate environment has to offer.

“Precious leader’s wife”

Professional snowboarder Spencer O’Brien took a year off to work with director Cassie De Colling on this film, which explores her life as an athlete and her journey to reconnect with her culture. O’Brien is one of the few First Nations Canadian snowboarders, with both Haida and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw heritage. (The title of the documentary is a translation of O’Brien’s Haida name, K’ul Jaad Kuuyaa.) However, the demands of becoming a professional athlete took over her life and kept her from staying in touch with his family. and her identity, which she never thought much about growing up. “It was never something that I hid, it was just never something that I broadcast,” she says in the film. “When I was younger all I wanted to be was a snowboarder so I never cared about people knowing anything other than that.” In the beginning Precious woman leader, we see O’Brien at one of the highest points of his career, almost winning the X Games in 2012. But that event ended with a major injury that escalated into rheumatoid arthritis. What follows are professional ups and downs that O’Brien seems to navigate with increasing stability as she connects with her Indigenous identity. She attends potlatches, gets her Haida name, and learns how her First Nations communities were forced to abandon their culture through residential schools and laws prohibiting certain ceremonies. With the help of people like her sister, who have met other Indigenous people at school, O’Brien realizes that she can reclaim her culture as well.

‘Not alone’

Outdoor guides who lose a friend in an accident have an extremely isolating experience, not least because there are so few people who have gone through the same thing. In 2019, mountain guide Sarah Hueniken was returning from a trip when she saw and reported a powder cloud from an avalanche where she knew two groups were going up. She later learned that her friend and former student, Sonja Findlater, had lost her life. The loss hit Hueniken so hard that she didn’t even leave home to go to the grocery store for eight months. “I haven’t had a day that I don’t think about it,” she says in the movie. Not alone follows the ongoing process of going through grief, which for her includes the goal of connecting three routes of ice climbing in Alberta’s Ghost River wilderness, aptly referred to as ‘phobias’, with the goal of bring the memory of her friend closer. The film shows that the grieving process is much more complicated than a straight line from not OK to OK. At a difficult point in his escalation attempt, Hueniken said of the film, “The point of it all was to tell a story about Sonja, and I feel like no matter how hard you try, you can’t get things back. “

“The List: all or nothing”

You can think you saw the movie about skiing The List: all or nothing, with Jérémie Heitz, before. You would be partly right: in 2016, a documentary also called The list followed the Swiss skier as he hurtled down a list of some of the Alps’ most iconic peaks. This film is essentially a sequel in which Heitz and his ski partner Sam Anthamatten develop the list in question to include not only the Alps, but many of the world’s most formidable peaks, reaching 6,000 meters. It’s simple vanity executed with aplomb: part a highly produced travelogue, part an ode to the mountains, and above all a very satisfying compilation of dramatic ski footage that will sometimes make you wonder, ” is it skiing or does it collapse very gracefully over the side of an almost vertical mountain face? “


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