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Best of Banff returns to Whistler

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Film festival highlights shown over two nights

What: The Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival

Where: Rainbow Theatre

When: Friday, Nov. 28 & Saturday, Nov. 29

Tickets: $14

"I think we’re on lucky 13," chuckles James Retty, owner of local outdoor adventure shop the Escape Route and perennial sponsor of bringing a selection of the best films from the internationally-renowned Banff Mountain Film Festival to Whistler.

Thirteen years later, it’s an event local mountain culture enthusiasts still eagerly anticipate, and this year’s films should continue to stoke their fires.

True to form, this year’s selections are another diverse group of exciting and intriguing films dealing with action, adventure, exploration and environmental activism in a variety of international mountain locales. And there’s no shortage of the humour and human drama that characterizes past Banff winners.

Retty has divided the films into two groups, the first of which will screen at 5:30 p.m. and the second at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday Nov. 29. The screenings are moving to the intimate Rainbow Theatre venue this year, and cost $14 for one show, with a small discount of $26 for both.

The following are the major award winners to appear at this year’s Whistler stop on the Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour:

2003 Best Film on Mountain Culture: A Man Called Nomad

(U.K., 2002, 44 minutes)

Director/Producer: Alex Gabbay

What makes a man a nomad? Is it his land, his head, or his heart? Through the story of Choegatar, a 30-year-old nomad who lives in northeastern China, the film explores the dilemmas of a modern nomad caught in the interface between traditional nomadic life and the changing world around him.

Focus: Culture

Rating: General

Adrenaline Factor: Low

Subtitles: Yes

Language: Tibetan

2003 People’s Choice Award Winner: Sister Extreme

(Canada, 2003, 30 minutes)

Directors/Producers: Glen Crawford, Brad Wrobleski, Glen Crawford Production Services

"Spinal Tap with Crampons!" A satirical mockumentary featuring Rex Van Fuegoschmidt and Jeff Z. as they attempt the first ascent of the notorious west face of the Middle Sister, one of three iconic peaks in the Canadian Rockies that loom over the town of Canmore. During the gonzo climb, Rex and Jeff also shed light on the mystery surrounding the tragic disappearance of legendary Dutch alpinist Rexal Van Fuegoschmidt. The film features commentary by renowned climbers Barry Blanchard, Will Gadd and Pat Morrow. Sister Extreme’s humour and local connection made it the definite people’s choice.

Focus: Climbing/Humour

Rating: General

Adrenaline Factor: Medium

Also slated for screening in Whistler are Cost of Freedom, an American film about a controversial wolf reintroduction program in Idaho, Falling, an elegiac look at waterfall kayaking, and Focused: Shane McConkey, abridged segments of the latest ski film by Matchstick Productions featuring their longtime star athlete and son of former Whistler Ski School director Jim McConkey.

A complete list of films, along with a schedule describing the screening groups is available through the Escape Route in Marketplace Square. Call 604-938-3228 for more information.

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