Banff Mountain Film Festival comes back to town

World film festival reaches the Limestone City

From Jan. 18 to 20, Trailhead hosted the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
From the Banff Mountain Film Festival Facebook page

Since 1992, the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour has been stopping into Kingston to display films by creators from all walks of life and levels of experience.

This year, Trailhead hosted the festival from Jan. 18 to 20. The focus of the tour is to draw attention to films that demonstrate a connection to land and culture. A few of the featured subject categories for these films are environment, sports, mountain climbing, and winter.

The festival, run by the Banff Centre for Creative Arts, is wildly popular and sold out quickly. This year, the organization received their all-time highest record, a total 435 film submissions.

A pre-screening committee made up of festival staff and volunteers is responsible for picking the 100 best films from this list, which are deemed finalists and may then be screened on the international tour.

In Kingston, the festival is partnered with Trailhead, which organizes the event by booking the venue—the Isabel Bader Centre—and selecting the most relevant films to screen for a Kingston audience.

The Journal spoke to Meghan Brooks, a Trailhead employee, and Jamie Carpenter, the Banff Centre’s on-site coordinator for the tour, about what makes this festival so appealing.

Brooks mentioned the exciting opportunities the event offers to emerging filmmakers.

“Submitting their films to the competition is one thing,” she said. “Having them screened is a huge accomplishment, and then winning any kind of award is a massive thing.”

While every film category has its own designated award, each of the films is also eligible to win one of two highly prestigious general awards: the Grand Prize and the People’s Choice.

The show is three hours long with an intermission and features a wide variety of film styles including animation, documentaries, foreign-language films, and anything in between. Some films are as short as three minutes, while the longest is 47 minutes.

According to Carpenter, “it’s such a variety of film types that are presented on a given night on the tour that it really makes for an interesting night for anyone that’s interested in film.”

The reason for this level of diversity is that the festival is open to people of all backgrounds and experience levels.

Brooks explained that the tour receives submissions from a wide group of people, stating, “There are seasoned filmmakers, first-timers, students. It’s a very diverse group.”

Although Brooks is new to the festival, Carpenter has been all over North America many times to attend the various events, and he maintains that Kingston is one of his favourite stops.

“There’s a long tradition of having a show in Kingston,” Carpenter said. “People really get inspired coming to the show here. There’s a beautiful venue—the Isabel Bader Centre—I would say one of the nicest venues on the North American tour.”

The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour has launched films that went on to garner huge acclaim and notoriety, such as Free Solo and The Dawn Wall, but both Brooks and Carpenter assert that the feeling of a small, connected community remains at the heart of the event.

“Here, like most places, there’s a really great sense of community amongst audience members,” Carpenter said. “People often make plans to go skiing, hiking, or climbing together after so it serves as a vehicle to further that sense of community.”

As it has done for many years, the Banff Film Festival continues to exhibit films which place the land and those who inhabit it at the forefront of our social consciousness across North America and the world.


This article has been updated to reflect Meghan Brooks' correct name spelling.

The Journal regrets the error.

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