Recap: Banff Mountain Film Festival – Ottawa

You get goosebumps when you hear its theme music. You know that voice – the one that comes deep from Richard Armstrong’s toes and says “Welcome to the Banff Mountain Film Festival.”

It’s one of my favorite times of year. I sit in a dark movie theater buzzing with the energy of other festival-goers. For three hours I allow myself to be transported on an adventure or maybe a cultural journey to Russia’s Far East, the Grand Canyon, Scotland, or French Polynesia.

This year I went with a friend to the opening night in Ottawa (January 9th) after teaching in Pembroke.

I was…underwhelmed.

It hurts to write that.

Is it me? Have I been to the festival too many times now? Have I seen too much on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube? Every outdoors person with a GoPro can be a videographer or even a cinematographer these days. Just like everyone with a cell phone is a world class photographer.

I’m not a cynical person. If you’ve been reading here long enough, you already know that.

I don’t know if I felt underwhelmed because the crowd’s energy felt flat. Or if it was too cold out or too cold in the ByTowne Cinema. I don’t know if maybe the tour edits were perhaps a bit off for me this year.

Characters didn’t feel fully formed or weren’t particularly likeable. Storylines didn’t arc. Films felt like music videos.

All that said and I will still attend the festival when it arrives in Toronto. I’m hoping for a different line-up, for a bunch I haven’t seen yet. Look for me at the Bloor Street Cinema on Saturday night.

In the meantime, here’s how Ottawa shook out for me:

The Ones I Liked

Ace and the Desert Dog

Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out

SHIFT

Four Mums in a Boat

The Ones I Could Have Taken or Left

The Accord

Packing it Out: Cleaning America’s Wild Trails

The Perfect Flight

The Ones That Really Didn’t Do Anything For Me

Poumaka

For the Love

Iran: A Skier’s Journey

Max Your Days

 

Do you have one or two films from the festival (this year or previous years) that stand out in your mind?  Join the conversation.

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