Banff Mountain Film Festival 2021/22 tour made a welcome return to The Festival Theatre Edinburgh this evening, and as always the quality of photography and film-making was impressive. This is a two day event and today was the Yellow film programme (the Green one is tomorrow).
As always, the event is through film a series of windows looking out to the wondrous and magical big world that is out there and was, for me, a much needed one as too many of us have had our horizons restricted with ongoing world events of late.
I am not going to do an individual review of each film here as so much information is available direct from the Banff website at www.banff-uk.com, but I am going to try and cover some of the highs and lows in general that these films shared with us as their audience.
Banff Mountain Film Festival is first and foremost exactly that, a film festival, and what we are viewing on either the Yellow or Green programmes are the films that were selected from 377 submissions. It is also important to note that none of these in-theatre screenings have been seen in the digital-only screenings that Banff has also been running since 2020.
As always, we have a selection of short and longer films with running times ranging from 4 to 45 minutes, and as always with any film, much of the work is in the editing that we never see. It would be interesting to know just how much filming and editing time went into some of these films, particularly the shorts.
What is it that makes people do what they do, makes them step outside of their comfort zone, and often put their own self at personal risk (potentially even death)? These are questions that perhaps only they can answer as we follow them across mountain ranges of deserts and ice, along the razors edges of mountains and through treacherous waters in difficult to access rivers. Some people do it to challenge their own body and mind to achieve what even they consider to be impossible, others seem driven by the thrills of travel and adventure, others perhaps do not even know why they do it at all, they just do it.
This year’s films certainly for me raised a few questions, and the increasing changes to sensitive environments brought about by man’s presence as we build dams to divert and block rivers is one of them. Having in the west destroyed so many of our own natural resources under the mask of progress whilst selfishly enjoying a lifestyle that many can only dream about, that all too often is achieved from this destruction, we are perhaps not the best commentators for this planet. Another main reason for the damage to the ecology of some of the areas in some of these films is their destruction for the natural and mineral resources that they hold, and once again, we are all too often the consumers of the end products of this environmental catastrophe.
Our film-makers, whatever their motivations, always manage to make an interesting film, and I always try to remember just how fortunate they are to still have the wonders of nature out there to film in, but also the opportunity to do so as sometimes the demands on financial and logistical resources to make some of these adventures must be considerable. Behind every person on film, there must often also be a supportive network of people unseen in the background that give them the freedom to explore and enjoy the amazing world that they show us all is out there.
This year though, there was in these films a clear message that we sadly live in a world that is not only unjust in its sharing of natural resources and wealth to people, but also a world that is fractured with political, military and large business conflicts over resources, money and power. As a result, some areas of the world are simply not that safe to travel in and sometimes careful negotiations and payments for safe passage are required. Travel, explore, enjoy, but sometimes, in sensitive areas of the world, with care for the safety of not only yourself, but those around you, seen and unseen on film.
Unusually, this year’s scheduling has put both the Banff Mountain and its sister Ocean Film Festival close together with the latter also screening at Edinburgh Festival Theatre on Friday 3rd September.