Banff Mountain Film Festival

Sitting in a church for three and a half hours may not be most people’s idea of a fun night out, but when you spend that time watching awe-inspiring footage of people doing crazy things on mountains, the time seems to fly by.

Last night, instead of the usual evening at Scout Park, WWESU Explorers found themseves trekking down to the Union Chapel in Highbury & Islington, where we watched the Banff Mountain Film Festival – a celebration of some of the best outdoor adventure themed films, all telling real life stories.

First we discovered the wonders of ‘mudding’ (like snowing but with mud…) in ‘Unreal’, and watched as a trio of mountain bikers skidded across slopes and precarious jumps.

Then we watched a film called ‘Curiosity’, recounting the journeys of several runners as they attempted the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, one of the world’s hardest ultra marathons. We were all impressed by their commitment and strength.

The third film, ‘Unbranded’, told the story of four college graduates-turned-cowboys as they rode the entire width of America from Mexico to Canada. We laughed at the antics of their stubborn donkey and gasped mutliple times as they nearly fell into the Grand Canyon. This film was an attempt to raise awareness of the wild mustangs of North America, who are constantly being ‘managaed’ by the US Bureau of Land Management, and it definitely gave us something to think about.download (2)

After ‘Unbranded’ was the break, and we all quickly stocked up on freebies and entered our names in the prize draw, before sampling all the different varieties of Clif Bars on offer.

Following the break, we were immersed in a world of snow and ice in ‘Pretty Faces’, where we joined a group of female skiers as they explored the slopes of Alaska. The stunning scenery made for an impressive film.

The fourth film was titled ‘Denali’, a tribute to one man’s best friend – his dog. The film told the story of the man’s battle with, and recovery from, cancer, and the later development of the dog’s own illness. Told from the perspective of the dog, this was a moving story about the experiences we share with those closest to us.

‘A Line Across the Sky’ won the Best Climbing Film award. For this film we found ourselves in Patagonia, Argentina, and we watched as two men became the first ever people to complete the Fitz Roy traverse – an alpine climb of epic proportions. This was an extraordinary feat, especially as they had almost no alpine experience!download (1)The last film, called ‘Homefree’, was an exploration of the Isle of Man, where we were shown the island through the eyes of a free-runner as he sprung up walls and leaped over benches.

Overall, the evening was an eye-opening look at some of the most inspiring people, and places, in the world.

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