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Banff Mountain Film Festival celebrates the great outdoors at Chico State

A series of fun, outdoorsy short films come to Chico
Samuel Moore
Viewers get ready for the Banff mountain film festival in Laxson Auditorium. Taken by Samuel Moore.

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity’s world film tour came to Chico on Saturday. The film festival was held in Laxson Auditorium, and Adventure Outings teamed up with Banff Centre to host the tour.

A total of eight short film documentaries were shown at the festival on Saturday, all focused on outdoor activities. 

The first film was called “How Did We Get Here?” Directed by Clay Mitchell, this short film focuses on a group of three women skiers and their relationships with each other and skiing. The film primarily consists of their incredible skiing skills and shows how they conquer even the steepest slopes.

While viewing this short nine-minute film was fun, outside of the impressive skiing skills it didn’t leave too much of an impression on me.

Still Alive,” directed by Santino Martino, was the second film. It is about a mountain climber named Klaas Willems. It’s a more somber film focused on Willems’ struggle with cystic fibrosis and his unwavering determination to continue mountain climbing. Even though cancer and cystic fibrosis have a low survival rate, Willems tries not to let the despair get to him.

I really liked this short, 30-minute film, as it delved deep into Willems’ life. Willems’ strength is admirable, even though surgeries keep setting his rock climbing progress back, he is able to start over. His story of struggling against disease while pursuing rock climbing is inspiring to me.

The third film was “Sea to Sky Trail Series: Progression,” a film directed by Joel Fuller. This short film focused on trail running, specifically two trail runners trying to run from the Lion’s bay to the top of The Lions mountains.

This was a fun 11-minute film highlighting a hobby I didn’t know too much about beforehand. It seems difficult, to say the least.

Slides on the Mountain,” directed by Seth Gillis, was the fourth film shown at the world tour on Saturday. 

The short film focused on two teenage boys from the Lil’wat tribe in Canada attempting to ski down the perilous slopes of Mt. Currie in British Columbia. The film delved into the history of the Lil’wat people and their struggle with colonization by the British, as well as the importance of conquering this mountain to the two teens.

I enjoyed this 30-minute documentary. It gives a lot of focus to the struggles of the Indigenous people of the Lil’wat tribe in British Columbia. The hardships faced by Indigenous peoples are not something I see given too much attention unfortunately, and these two teenage boys that the film focuses on are very likable.

After the fourth film, there was a short intermission so people could buy some snacks or drinks before returning to the film viewing.

Leaving a Tread,” directed by Maxwell Frank and Becky Gardner, was the fifth film. This short film focused on mountain biker Israel Carrillo as he embarked on dangerous trails throughout Mexico and his own hometown of Guanajuato.

I liked this short five-minute film for all the cool bike tricks, but unfortunately this film was a bit too short to be memorable.

The sixth short film was “Eternal Flame,” directed by Nicolas Bossard. “Eternal Flame” focuses on two Frenchmen trying to base-jump off of the Nameless Tower in Pakistan, which is 6200m. Be warned, if you are scared of heights, this film might make you a bit uncomfortable.

As one of those aforementioned squeamish people, the sheer heights present in this 26-minute film gave me some anxiety. Nonetheless, it was fun seeing the dedication of the Frenchmen Eric Jamet and Antoine Pecher in their pursuit of extreme base-jumping.

After You’ve Gone” was the seventh short film. Directed by Max Erickson, this film is centered on a widow named Rachel Finn, who took up fly fishing after the death of her husband. “After You’ve Gone” deals with her grief, her own battle with cancer, and how she found meaning in becoming a fly fisher.

This short 12-minute film was a touching story about trying to overcome grief. Finn’s story is not only inspiring, but she genuinely seems like a cool person with an interesting hobby as well.

The final film was “Pioneers: Tandem XC Skiing.” Directed by Chris Barr, this comedy documentary short film focuses on two friends trying to do something absurd: taking on the longest cross-country skiing course in the nation all on one double-length ski together. From there, hilarity ensues as the two try to make it work somehow.

My favorite film was “Pioneers: Tandem XC Skiing,” as the comedy in it was genuinely very funny and clever. The recurring gag of the friends somehow always ending up at White Castle, as well as the absurdity of two men on one pair of skis were hilarious to me. Most of the theater seemed to agree, as it got the crowd laughing at its witty punchlines and absurdist humor.

To anyone interested in the great outdoors, I would strongly recommend coming to the Banff Mountain World Tour Film Festival when it returns to Chico next year.

Sam Moore can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Samuel Moore
Samuel Moore, Reporter
Sam Moore is a senior at Chico state. This is his first semester at the Orion. Sam will be covering news and hopefully sports this semester. Sam is from San Luis Obispo, California. It is a small coastal town. Sam works as a Doordash driver in his spare time. His hobbies include playing basketball, playing video games, and relaxing.

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