Every year, in the mountainous heart of Canada’s Banff National Park, moviemakers from around the world gather for a show-and-tell of some of the most beautiful and downright whacky films about the outdoors. Luckily, for those of us unable to make it up to Alberta, choice cuts from the annual fest get lumped together and taken on the road as part of the Banff Film Festival Tour. Back-to-back nights of big peaks, deep snow, classic characters, and stunning testimonies to the power of the human spirit come to UCSB’s Campbell Hall this Tuesday, February 23, and Wednesday, February 24, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and details, call 893-3535 or visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu. And for a few highlights, read on for our list of reasons to attend.
1) Alex Honnold: The 24-year-old Honnold is a dorky man-child monkey freak that will blow your mind. He is, without a doubt, the best free climber in the world (read: He scales sheer rock faces without ropes, safety nets, harnesses, or any other protection against certain death), and in the short film First Ascent: Alone on the Wall, this guy—who was able to stand just days after he was born—climbs up all 2,000 feet of polished granite along Half Dome in Yosemite National Park without any sort of gear. It is crazy, it is awesome, and it is completely terrifying.
2) The Beauty of the Mountains: Things are pretty beachy around these parts, and though the occasional inch or two of snow we get in our foothills is always reason to celebrate and drive “up the pass,” it doesn’t come close to the transcendent experience of spending time in some real mountains, be they snow-covered or not. From the snowy French Alps to the green majesty of British Columbia, skiers, climbers, bikers, base jumpers, and dudes in flying-squirrel suits frolic in the goodness of thin fresh air for the duration of this two-day festival.
3) Solo: Lost at Sea: Three years ago, an Australian adventurer named Andrew McAuley tried (for the second time) to become the first person to paddle a kayak solo across the Tasman Sea. A month into his trip and just 30 miles or so short of his final destination in New Zealand, McAuley disappeared and hasn’t been heard from since. Using actual video footage recovered from a camera found in his damaged kayak just days after his distress call, along with interviews with his extensive support team, the film paints a gripping picture of a man who lived life to the fullest and paid the ultimate price.