Banff Mountain Film Festival channels reels of adventure at CSUMB.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Scotland’s Dumbarton Rock is a 240-foot-high slab of volcanic basalt that once housed a military stronghold that repelled enemies for 1,500 years. Now, the rock face, which looks like an oversized castle turret, turns away all but the very best climbers in the world.
Director Paul Diffley’s eight-minute film If You’re Not Falling, one of seven films being shown this Sunday, March 15 at the Banff Mountain Film Festival within CSUMB’s World Theater, follows Canadian climber Sonnie Trotter as he attempts what some consider the world’s hardest traditional rock climb. (It took climber Dave MacLeod more than 70 days of attempts before he became the first person to climb Dumbarton Rock.) Having started climbing at 16, Trotter is known for being the first to climb the British Columbia’s Cobra Crack, a 100-foot finger-sized fracture in the rock.
Winner of the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s Best Short Mountain Film, If You’re Not Falling begins with Trotter philosophizing about his failed attempts to climb Dumbarton Rock’s face. “I don’t mind falling,” he says, “because you know if you are not falling you are not trying.”
Soon, watchers witness several attempts where Trotter does a manly Braveheart-like scream before plummeting off the rock. As he falls a few stories, with his rope trailing behind his body, Trotter looks like a dislodged spider. The tension picks up as the volume of music in the film increases and we can hear Trotter’s partner, Cory Richards, yelling “Come on!” over and over. Though the climbing terminology like “redpoint attempts” and “V-notch holds” will only make sense to climbers, Trotter’s falls are sure to quicken the heart rates of climbers and non-climbers alike.
Held every year in Banff, Canada since 1976, the Banff Mountain Film Festival showcases a range of short films about mountain culture, outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Starting in 1986, the best films from the festival have traveled the world from Austria to Argentina and Iceland to India as the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
This year, sponsored by REI, the film festival is making its first stop in Monterey County. Proceeds from the festival will benefit the Return of the Native’s education project.
Six other films will be shown with If You’re Not Falling at the Banff Mountain Festival World Tour’s stop at CSUMB.
Red Gold Winner of the festival’s People’s Choice Award, Red Gold is a 54-minute documentary that examines a controversy brewing in southwest Alaska. A company called Northern Dynasty Minerals plans to build the largest open pit mine in North America. The problem is that the company wants to strip the land at the headwaters of one of the biggest salmon runs left in the world. The film includes interviews with community members, local fishermen, Northern Dynasty Minerals representative Bruce Jenkins and fisheries scientist Dr. Carol Ann Woody. It also features shots of Alaska’s mountains and rushing rivers.
The Sharp End: Lisa Rands For those who don’t know, Lisa Rands is a popular climber who was the first American to get first place in the international bouldering portion of the Climbing Worldcup. In this six-minute film, Rands shows us how to take on “highball” boulder problems.
Danzak A film about Peruvian culture, Danzak follows a 10-year-old girl who is asked to do one last thing for her dying father. By the way, her father is a scissor dancer, a practitioner of a challenging dance from the southern Andes.
The Red Helmet A young toe-headed boy living in a black-and-white world discovers a red helmet in the woods. The helmet seems to show the kid the possibilities of recreation that surrounds him in the natural world – when he places it on his head, the world suddenly bursts with color. The six-minute movie then shows a variety of athletes in red helmets pulling off impressive feats: a kayaker plunges off a waterfall, a mountain biker traverses the spine of a steep mountain range, a BASE jumper soars above a mountain landscape like a superhero, and a tightrope walker navigates a rope connected between two rocky crags, among other things.
Papiroflexia A whimsical three-minute animated movie, Papiroflexia, profiles a chubby practitioner of origami who transforms stop signs into butterflies and cars into deer. The film shows one man’s attempt to rid the natural world of man’s impact.
The Fine Line Presented by the Rocky Mountain Sherpas, The Fine Line has a Warren Miller movie’s worth of superb footage of skiers and snowboarders tearing down open bowls. But what makes The Fine Line different is that it also instructs viewers about the dangers of avalanches and allows avalanche survivors to tell their tales.
THE BANFF MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL WORLD TOUR screens its films 7pm Sunday, March 15, at CSUMB’s World Theater, Sixth Avenue, Seaside. $15/REI members if bought in the store; $18/general public. 883-8048.