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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