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Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival showcases outdoor films

Catch jam-packed screenings from Feb. 7 until Feb. 9 in Whistler and Squamish

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What better way to hide out during the current cold snap than in a cozy theatre watching other people brave the elements?

The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival is making a stop in Whistler and Squamish during its world tour from Thursday, Feb. 7 until Saturday, Feb. 9. The three shows will each feature a series of around nine different short films each night.

Pique caught up with Nathalie White, who has been working with Escape Route to organize the event for the last eight years, over email to learn more about this year's offerings.

Pique: Can you tell me a bit about the format of the evenings? It looks like several short films screen back-to-back? 

Nathalie White: The festival brings out a couple dozen films on their world tour. These are their top picks, the festival prize winners and biggest crowd pleasers. They run from five-minute short films to one-hour-plus full features. We mix it up to find a nice variety and flow of films to best suit each town. This usually means about several films per screening with one intermission in the middle. Each screening lasts about two-and-a-half to three hours!

Pique: Do people generally pick the day with the most films that appeal to them or do you usually see people attending all the screenings?

NW: I think it varies. For Squamish, since we only have one screening, people will come no matter what and we have always had really good feedback about our film selections. Since Whistler has two different screenings, I believe some people choose a night depending on what they wish to see but also on their evening preference—either a Friday or a Saturday. We have been fortunate to have all of our shows sell out for as long as I can remember.

Whistler fits 240 people per night and Squamish has had a full house at 450 people for the past several years now! It's so great. 

Pique: Do you help pick the films?

NW: I've had the privilege to be given full control of film selection for all of the screenings for the past eight years. I get given short clips and a brief description of each film. I put together a draft of film selections that I find would best suit Squamish and Whistler and, with the help of our Banff host, we come up with a final set for each town. 

Pique: Which are you most looking forward to?

NW: It's hard to pick just one but one that I've been looking forward to is called This Mountain Life: Coast Range Traverse. It's the story of a mother and daughter who ski across the entire Coast Mountain Range, from Squamish to Alaska! How bad*ss is that!?  

Pique: Is Squamish always part of the tour as well, or is that new this year?

NW: Escape Route has been bringing the festival to Whistler for almost 20 years now. I started working on the project about eight years ago now and that was when we started showing it in Squamish as well.

Our Squamish crowd has quadrupled and it has become such a community event. We partnered up (with) the Howe Sound Outdoor Leadership program and a portion of our ticket sales go to them. They have been a tremendous help to us over the past several years and we are so happy to be able to help them raise some funds for their program. 

Catch the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival in Squamish on Thursday, Feb. 7 at Howe Sound Secondary, in Whistler on Friday, Feb. 8 at the Maury Young Arts Centre and again in Whistler on Saturday, Feb. 9, also at the Maury Young Arts Centre. The shows start at 7 p.m. with doors at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $21. To purchase them and to see the full line up of films visit escaperoute.ca/2018/11/banff-film-festival/.

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