The 33rd Annual Banff Mountain Film Festival-a two-day traveling smorgasbord of documentaries and animated shorts about climbing, biking, skiing, the environment, and outdoor life-comes to UCSB’s Campbell Hall on Monday, March 2, and Tuesday, March 3. The selections are as professionally made and probingly relevant as ever, so do your yearly duty and tune in. For tickets and info, call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. Here is just a glimpse at the fest’s highlights.
1) Journey to the Center: Awarded the Best Film on Mountain Sports prize at this year’s festival, this 55-minute doc follows three BASE jumpers from Malibu, Melbourne, and Norway as they travel to China to free-fall into Heaven’s Pit, a geologic oddity best described as a super-deep vertical cave. Interspersed with cultural revelations and visits to village school kids, the focus is really about fear and the protocol involved in parachuting from anywhere but a plane-in this case, a cable strapped above the pit. Yeah, it’s harrowing.
2) Red Gold: Salmon fishing has gone hand in hand with Alaskan living for eons, but fishers, environmentalists, politicians, and others say that could stop if the controversial Pebble Mine is built. Believed to be the biggest copper and gold mine in North America, but requiring one of the largest dams ever to be built, the project could adversely impact the world’s two largest remaining sockeye salmon rivers. Expertly and entertainingly told, this is a story of immovable objects, and there’s little wonder why it won the Banff’s People’s Choice Award this time around. It deserves all of our attention.
3) The Sharp End: Lisa Rands: One of two Sharp End films-the other about climbing in Eastern Europe-this six-minute short focuses on a woman whose passion is impossibly technical routes. It’s a study on concentration and never giving up, and a hair-raising tale for those who climb and those who don’t.