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.
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
Four Mums in a Boat
The Ones I Could Have Taken or Left
Packing it Out: Cleaning America’s Wild Trails
The Perfect Flight
The Ones That Really Didn’t Do Anything For Me
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.