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Diversity outdoors: Banff Mountain Film Fest explores wider range than ever before

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EVERY YEAR, the Banff Mountain Film Festival brings the best outdoors/environment themed documentaries and shorts to the Lucas Theatre for an evening of enlightening entertainment.

This year’s screening at the Lucas might be the most enlightening edition yet.

'Fast Horse' - PHOTO BY AARON MUNSON
  • Photo by Aaron Munson
  • 'Fast Horse'

“This is without question the most diverse lineup we’ve had in 15 years of sponsoring the Banff Mountain Film Festival – seven years in Savannah,” says Katherine P. Smith of main regional sponsor Half-Moon Outfitters.

The diversity includes the characteristics of the highlighted people in the films as well as the subject matter.

“One film takes you into a Blackfoot tribe bareback horse race. Another brings you into the world of African-American mountain climbers,” Smith says.

"Margo Hayes: Break On Through."
  • "Margo Hayes: Break On Through."

“And we think Savannah might particularly like the story of the hairdresser that helps save beavers between occasional tequila shots,” laughs Smith, talking about the film The Beaver Believers,” she laughs.

Feel of Vision explores the life of a man who lost his eyesight in a hunting accident and is now a paddler.

How to Run 100 Miles is about one man’s journey from homelessness and learning disabilities to life as a runner.

The new focus on diversity is a far cry from old stereotypes about environmentalism, and environmental filmmaking, mostly dealing with affluent white people.

“Society is changing and these films reflect that. It’s what people want now,” Smith says.

“We’ve been limited by what filmmakers have been producing -- we can only screen what is made. But there’s really a demand for these kinds of stories. The diversity you’ll see at this year’s event comes from that group of filmmakers for whom telling these different stories from different viewpoints is a real priority.”

The event is part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which hits the road soon after the signature main event at the Banff Centre in Canada. Stops are planned in about 550 communities and more than 40 countries across the globe.

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