Banff Mountain Film Festival Celebrates Outdoor Community

The annual event features world-class adventure films, while celebrating and supporting the local outdoor community.

Sure, there will be plenty of hucking and sending and big air exploits when the Banff Mountain Film Festival comes to town March 3-4, but there’s so much more. For 40 years, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has been curating exceptional outdoor films that tap into deep, often moving, experiences at the intersection of humans and our natural world. And for 15 years, the event has represented a special local partnership, hosted by Mountain Chalet with all proceeds going to the Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI). 

“It brings a world-class event to the Springs, a community that’s deeply passionate about adventure, public lands, mountains, stewardship, etc.,” says Jennifer Peterson, RMFI executive director.

“The Banff Film Festival is a great way for the community to support the organization that advocates for our local trails and open spaces,” says Matt Chmielarczk, general manager at Mountain Chalet who organizes the festival. “I like to say that if you travel the trails in our region you have RMFI to thank.”

Canyon climber with prosthetic leg in Out On a Limb at Banff Mountain Film Festival
Out On a Limb will be featured at Banff Mountain Film Festival 2020. Photo by Jordan Manley.

As for the on-screen experience, prepare to be inspired, awed and moved, whether you’re contemplating an adventure of your own or not. “We try to screen a good blend of adrenaline-based films and cultural films that might appeal to the whole community,” Chmielarczk says. “We like to think there’s something in the program for everyone.” 

“It’s our people. It’s our passion,” Peterson says. “It’s mountain films. It’s adventure. It’s exploration. It’s laughing, crying. What could be better?”

Films typically cover activities ranging from staples such as skiing and snowboarding, rock climbing, running and mountain biking to sailing, paddling, trekking, equestrian and exploration in all its forms. There are poignant biographies, cultural discoveries and humorous misadventures. “It’s a great way to see how adventurous, creative and thoughtful people are spending their lives,” Chmielarczk adds.

Here are a few highlights from this year’s Colorado Springs selections:

Electric Greg

A climber summits 100 peaks without the aid of fossil fuels. “I love the concept of an adventure with bookends on it,” Chmielarczk says. “The idea of climbing 100 summits without the aid of fossil fuels is something that brings all of us to think about the sustainability of our adventures, and how we approach them.”

Watch the Electric Greg trailer.

Rapelling into the Grand Canyon in Into the Canyon featured at Banff Mountain Film Festival
“Olo Canyon inside Grand Canyon is a hidden slot canyon filled with cathedral ampitheaters and natural springs. Much of its landscape could change if development on the rim above drills for water and depletes this natural oasis.” —Pete McBride. Into the Canyon will be featured at Banff Mountain Film Festival 2020. Photo by Pete McBride.

Into the Canyon

Two photographers attempt to walk the entire length of the Grand Canyon. “It seems to conjure an awareness of the complexities involved in how we, as a society, choose to use our precious public lands,” Chmielarczk says.

Watch the Into the Canyon trailer.

Myrtle Simpson: A Life on Ice

The life story of the pioneering adventurer and first woman to cross Greenland on foot. “I grew up in a family with four sisters and raised two young ladies,” Chmielarczk says. “I’m always fascinated with stories that represent the excellence that comes when women disregard or overcome the obstacles that have always been present in the world of exploration. There was a time, not too long ago, when people wrote me emails asking why I didn’t screen films made by, or about, women in the adventure community. The truth is that films made by or about women just weren’t being made like they are these days. Nowadays, we could screen an entire night of women’s films and have to make some hard choices to fit it into a night. Women like Myrtle had this tenacity and fortitude long before the #MeToo movement, or having a choice for a woman as president. We should raise them up, all of them, as guides to astounding achievement and evolution.”

Watch the Myrtle Simpson: A Life on Ice.

Go to the Banff Mountain Film Festival 2020

March 3-4
Stargazers Theatre
Tickets and info:

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Jeremy Jones
Jeremy Jones is Springs’ co-founder, editorial director and chief outdoor officer. He loves building community by telling stories about all the people, places and culture that make Colorado Springs an amazing place to live. And he’s especially stoked when exploring new places in the Springs, Colorado and beyond. Watch for him hiking, running or mountain biking the local trails with his wife and kids.

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