Even on the silver screen, the mountain life is all about extremes.
There are some film aficionados who prefer the sublime view taken from a Himalayan peak. Others want to know what happens if you fell off that peak, whether you’re biking, skiing, kayaking or, quite literally, flying.
If you consider yourself one of the latter, the Banff Mountain Film Festival has tailored a screening just for you in a series of short films entitled Radical Reels. The eight flicks will be shown at the Yukon Arts Centre this Friday evening at 7:30 p.m.
“(The festival) found there are people who really just want the action films,” says Marie-Jane Warshawski, co-owner of Coast Mountain Sports and a local organizer for the festival.
She says Coast Mountain Sports has hosted events for the Banff Mountain Film Festival for nearly 25 years.
The international film competition is held every November in Banff, Alberta. After more than 300 movies hit the screens, the winning films are chosen to go on a global tour. It visits more than 185 cities in North America and even has two screenings scheduled this year in Antarctica.
“Some of (the movies) can be cultural and anthropological. They can be very slow-moving and artistic,” says Warshawski.
So in the early 1990s, Warshawski and her associates inquired about whether the festival could screen some films based only on their high-octane kick.
The idea didn’t materialize until about four years ago, when Radical Reels was born.
The eight films are from three to 23 minutes long covering mountain biking, bouldering, skiing, kayaking and paragliding. There are no special effects, no digital animation and no stunt doubles in these action thrillers.
“I think it attracts a larger teenage audience,” says Warshawski. “More of the kids who look forward to doing something like that themselves one day.”
The films are a veritable world tour in themselves, taking the audience from the choppy rivers of Colorado in Light in Liquid, to jagged boulders in Sweden during the film Swedish Meatballs.
Rock Wings features one of the most visually stunning sports to spring from the minds of mountain junkies. Speedflying involves wearing a wingsuit, jumping off a cliff and gliding gracefully toward the ground.
Jumping off the Eiger and Jungfrau mountains in the Swiss Alps, wingsuit flyers Loïc Jean-Albert, Julian Boulle and Ueli Gegenschatz barrel down the slopes with smoke flares trailing their descent. They glide, side-by-side, through canyons and over ridges.
The trio tilt themselves up as the ground approaches, until the time is just right to release their parachutes, gliding them to an unexpectedly smooth surface.
The only Canadian film being screened is Yamabushi, featuring rock climbing in the Rocky Mountains. It is directed and produced by Will Gadd, who, according to his website, is also a respected paraglider, kayaker and mountain biker.
Trial and Airtakes the extreme movie genre to a whole new height.
Filmed in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the ski and snowboard flick is filmed without helicopters circling the daredevil athletes.
Instead, the camera person films the mountain side by paragliding at similar speeds as the featured skier.
The film finishes with skier Matt Combs jumping a 90-metre ski-base jump and follows with a one-on-one race against an avalanche.
Warshawski says the films are usually picked from last year’s festival selection, but organizers may dig into the archives for older material.
Tickets are available at Coast Mountain Sports for $16 in advance and $18 at the door.