This weekend, the Best of Banff is right here in Whistler, as the 20th annual Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour arrives on Friday, Feb. 18 and Saturday, Feb. 19.
Produced by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, the Banff Mountain Festival World Tour features an assortment of award-winning films and audience favourites from over 300 films entered in the annual event. Right after the festival wraps in November, a select few of the best films head out on tour across Canada, the United States, and farther abroad, travelling to 30 countries and reaching more than 210,000 people at over 550 screenings in the process.
"Back in the '90s, when a lot of people were getting into climbing and mountaineering and outdoor stuff, and generally over the nights we were getting over 1,500 people turning out," recalled Jayson Faulkner, owner of Escape Route.
While attendance numbers might not be quite as high anymore, it's still a very popular touring festival. The Escape Route is hosting the Whistler leg of the World Tour, and they have selected a program that reflects the interests of the local audience from a selection of films on exploration and adventure, culture and environment, and mountain sports.
"It offers an opportunity to see a collection of films that are really about very focused mountain culture and mountain sports, and hopefully they're films that you wouldn't normally get to see everywhere as a collection."
This year's selected films feature a vast range of mountain pursuits, drama and excitement that are sure to leave mountain culture enthusiasts eager to continue exploring.
On the first evening, "Fly or Die," "Eastern Rises," "Chimæra," and "The Asgard Project" are being screening, and the following evening, "Dream Result," "AZADI: Freedom," "The Swiss Machine," "A Life Ascending," and "Kranked Kids - Just down the Road" are on-deck.
"'Fly or Die' is a pretty interesting film with Dean Potter," Faulkner added, "It's going to be a very interesting film just because it's a rather new way of going at the world as far as climbing goes, he's soloing without ropes, and if he does fall off, he base jumps, which is wild!"
"The flying fishing film, 'Eastern Rises,' that got best film on mountain sports, which is interesting because fly fishing is pretty passive when compared to the other things that are there."
Tickets to the Whistler screenings are $16.50 per night in advance, or $20 at the door (the programming on each night is different, so you really should check out both!), doors open at 7:30 p.m., and the films start at 8 p.m. For more information, visit http://en.escaperoute.ca/events/banffworldtour.aspx.