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Survival of the Fittest


Best of the Banff Film Festival, presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures. At Campbell Hall, Wednesday and Thursday, March 1 and 2.

The ever-popular Banff Mountain Film Festival rolls back into town this week with two action-packed nights of movies at UCSB on March 1 and 2. This year marks the 30th annual installment of the high-octane movie menagerie — a color-soaked swirl of extreme sports, ominous mountain peaks, snow covered inspiration, and far-flung survival tales from all parts of the globe. Every November the international mountaineering community descends on Banff, Canada to celebrate and bear witness to hundreds of films dedicated to the various moods of mountain life in North America and abroad. And since 1992 the cream of this Canadian crop has been hitting the road and bringing its particular and always fresh brand of outdoor adventure to sold-out local audiences here in Santa Barbara. From coming-of-age rituals in Siberia to the Zen of being a ski bum, Banff ’06 picks up right where last year’s wild ride left us. Wednesday night kicks things off with seven films and more than two hours of action. Laughter reigns supreme with the short but unforgettable Kumba Mighty-Mites, which lets viewers in on the raucous fun of Nepali children bombing down hills on homemade skis just hours after a big snow storm, and the mockumentary The Lost People of Mountain Village, a Spinal Tap-esque look at the “discovery” of uninhabited structures deep in the Rockies. Wednesday also shows the Special Jury Award winner Balancing Point and the latest skiing, snowboarding, and BASE jumping efforts from the über-adrenaline junkies Teton Gravity Research. Things pick up a notch on Thursday with seven more movies including Return2Sender:Parallelojams’ finger-breaking, ankle-crushing look at the sadomasochistic world of crack climbing at Indian Creek in Utah. The day also features the 2005 Best Film on Mountain Culture Award winner Charles, Edouard ou le temps suspendu, a French film documenting the harsh yet beautiful realities of life on an isolated high elevation mountain farm. Also included in Thursday’s lineup is the stunningly filmed story of Cynthia Hunt (The Magic Mountain) and her undying efforts to empower the people of Ladakh, a mountainous region in the northwest corner of India. As Stephan Siegrist, one of the climbers in the Wednesday night film Harvest Moon, says, “There are some mountains in the world, if you see them, you just have to stand on their summit.” Likewise, if you have a love for the outdoors and a passion for adventure and foreign culture, this is one film fest you just have to see.

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