Banff film fest coming to Whitehorse
Photo Courtesy of the Banff Centre/Banff Mountain Film Festival
Spring in the Yukon can be a tough time for outdoor enthusiasts.
The snow is beginning to melt to the point that it’s no longer safe for ski or dogsled.
Yet the trails are still too wet for serious hiking or mountain biking.
And other than the Yukon River, most canoeable waterways and lakes remain hidden beneath a thick layer ice.
Luckily, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is coming to Whitehorse this week.
The films will be showing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday at the Yukon Arts Centre.
The Yukon makes a cameo in one of the festival’s favourite feature films.
It’s called Take a Seat and will be screening on Thursday night.
The documentary, which received a special jury mention from the festival, follows Dominic Gill as he cycles 32,000 kilometres from the northern coast of Alaska to the southernmost tip of South America.
The territory holds a special place in Gill’s heart.
He describes Whitehorse as an eclectic, semi-bohemian oasis.
“When I started my trip, it was a pretty lonely time up in Alaska as you can probably imagine,” said Gill from his home in Manchester, UK.
“Although I made some pretty good friends up in Alaska, Whitehorse was the first time in my trip when I felt like I’d arrived, it was almost like a sort of homecoming.
“It was the first time I felt like I was with true friends.”
Gill made his trip through two continents on a tandem bike, allowing him to pick up strangers along the way.
One of his first passengers was Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, who jumped on the bike to help Gill struggle up Robert Service Way.
Although there was some joking about pulling his weight, Bagnell “made a valiant effort,” said Gill.
Bagnell, who appears in the film, will be introducing it on Thursday.
“I’d like to send my apologies that I couldn’t be there - I have no money,” said Gill.
“And I’d like to extend my warmest thanks to everyone in Whitehorse for making me feel so at home.”
Take a Seat has proven to be one of the most popular films on the tour.
“I think people really relate to the fact that this is a story of meeting people on the road and how friendly the world actually is,” said Gill.
“If you really stick your neck out you find your head does not get chopped off.
“But a lot of people don’t bother trying.”
Gill is already planning another trip.
This time he plans to ride his tandem bike with a 74-year-old man who he met on the first trip.
The man has leukemia, but has always wanted to bike across the United States.
Gill will help him realize that dream.
The most decorated film in the Banff Film Festival is Finding Farley, which won the grand prize and people’s choice awards.
The Canadian documentary follows filmmakers Karsten Heuer and Leanne Allison as they set out to follow in the footsteps of Farley Mowat.
Their dog Willow and two-year-old son Zev join them for the 5,000-kilometre trip as they trek, sail, paddle and portage their way from the Prairies to the Maritimes, finally arriving at Mowat’s Nova Scotian summer home.
Finding Farley will be screening on Friday.
This will be an encore presentation of the film in Whitehorse (it was also screened during the Available Light Film Festival) and not one that you’ll want to miss.
Another must-see is Project Megawoosh, a humorous look at a German engineer who is working to perfect the world’s tallest human water slide.
The spoof film received a special jury mention at the festival and will be airing in Whitehorse on Thursday.
Surrounding these films are numerous shorts and features that pack in the adrenaline and adventure that filmgoers have come to expect of the Banff Film Festival.
There are skiers going fast, doing tricks and floating through deep powder.
There are some certifiably insane mountain bikers who take on wilderness challenges from the French Alps to the coast of BC.
A woman gives it all up to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat.
Some ice climbers try to scale Canada’s largest waterfall, regardless of whether it’s completely frozen or not.
A group of whitewater kayakers paddle crocodile-infested African rivers by day and help install solar cooking facilities by night.
And there are unicyclists, rock climbers and speed fliers ... a little something for everybody.
As many as 14 films will be shown over the two-day event.
Hopefully, this will be enough of a boost to help those outdoor junkies make it until summer.