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REVIEW: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, 25/1/17

The Verse’s Lou Clement reviews the peaks and falls of the outdoor adventure films showcased at Banff Mountain film festival, hosted at Brighton Dome.

The Brighton Dome seats were full; the banners for sponsors and supporters of the Banff Mountain Film Festival 2017 were hung and so began the screenings for the first UK tour date. The compere welcomed the audience, addressing those who have been coming along over the last nine years, since the festival started stopping off in Brighton, as well as those attending for the first time. She also gave a snapshot of the long and unerring support that the organisation has given outdoor adventure and culture over the last 41 years! The scene was set for an evening of short film documentaries.

First up was (and perhaps my favourite of the evening) Young Guns. This told the tale of two young American teenagers with an extraordinary talent for rock climbing. The film shared their quest to succeed and the emotional process of managing failure for these exceptional athletes. It was filmed on location in Norway and Japan, and this made for exciting, honest and inspiring film. It also set the tone for the evening.

The whimsical short Metronomic was fun and entertaining. It is not often, maybe not ever, that you will see live music played mid-air. In Metronomic, a French company of entertainers (and probably more importantly acrobats), decided to play their music whilst dangling above a deep ravine, at first suspended and in an even more daring display, all simultaneously in motion. It was as jaw dropping as it sounds, and gave the audience a glimpse of their bravery and adrenaline-fuelled ambition but also their fantastic talent.

The night continued, the audience met every film with applause and appreciation. The weak film for me was Max your days. This was because it didn’t really have a story line, however, the camera work and technical skills in the editing and design was thoroughly exceptional. It stood head and shoulders above the others for this reason.

Another storyline, which gripped my imagination, was Four mums in a boat. The title, a play on the title of Jerome K Jerome’s humorous classic novel Three men in a boat, is the story of the journey of four women, all mothers and all successful career women. After meeting on the school run and working out together they decide, late one evening, that they should row across the Atlantic. They join the sea-experienced and, I imagine, many a long-qualified sailor, in rowing the 3000-mile journey. It was nothing short of a breath-taking achievement. Courage, discipline and a sense of humour seemed to be the key skills, and these certainly seemed to make up for the lack of experience (they had only been rowing for six months prior to taking on the challenge!)

The evening finished with the tricks and skills of the experienced mountain biker Danny MacAskill in Danny MacAskill’s Wee day out. The short film was pretty wonderful, partly because it was filmed on a sunny day in the countryside on the outskirts of Edinburgh, and partly because of extraordinary and entertaining MacAskill, who rides his bike, in seemingly complete control, over roof tiles, bridges and hay bales (whilst moving). It’s almost impossible to imagine seeing anything like it again.

Banff have done it again. I only wish they were staying for longer. Banff continue their tour across the UK and will return to Brighton for the second part of their programme in April. Full details of tour dates and locations are on their website: http://www.banff-uk.com/

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