Since 1976, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Canada has hosted a film festival highlighting some of the best films showcasing the great outdoors.
This year's Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival ran from Feb. 22-25, but it's not over. The festival is now in the midst of its world tour, and it comes to Bremerton April 30 at the Historic Roxy Theatre.
“We take the best of the festival and put it on tour,” said Paul Fish, who brought the tour to Bremerton, among other Washington cities. “When I go up to the festival, it’s three or four days of solid dawn-til-dusk — way past dusk — of watching films to help pick the ones I want to [take on] tour, and get feedback on them. We take a nice curated assortment on tour that gives a good sense of what the festival is like.”
Fish has been an outdoors enthusiast for almost 50 years, he said, and for years he owned and operated an outdoor supply store in Spokane called Mountain Gear.
He brought the Banff film festival to Spokane about 33 years ago, and although it was partly a marketing tool for his store, it was more importantly a way to indulge his passion of getting people to love the outdoors, and he soon brought the festival to other cities, he said.
“It was a nice combination of being able to get people engaged and excited about the outdoors generally in kind of the off-season, and it was a little bit of marketing for my company at the same time," he said.
Fish previously had hosted the festival in Port Townsend, but he said Bremerton appealed to him because it was a bigger population center.
“The Bremerton theater seemed a little closer to the population, and is a little bigger for them to work with, so we chose to go with the Roxy this year," he said.
The festival brings an interesting mix of outdoors-themed films. “We try to get it right for the crowd," Fish said. "There’s something everybody will love and probably something that they’ll say, ‘It’s not my favorite.’ But it’s a great mix.”
This year, Bremerton will feature one night of films, but as the world normalizes from COVID, it'll move to two nights in the future, he added.
Some highlights of the films that will be shown:
Follow the Light. Fish describes this film as "a beautiful mountain biking film that was filmed in Cappadocia, Turkey. Great biking and amazing scenery."
FINALLY. Fish describes this film as "kind of a pandemic ski film ... that’s fun, interesting. Some good skiing and a little bit of philosophy in there."
My Midsummer Morning. Fish said this film is the "story of a guy who’s adventured all over the world, biked around the world, climbed amazing peaks, and his latest adventure is learning to play the violin, which he does not know at all, and ... going with no money, and busking his away across Spain. ... It was just an amazing, approachable film. It was not quite everybody’s favorite, but it was really wonderful because I’m going, ‘I just started playing guitar and maybe I’ll take my guitar somewhere and try busking and see if I can feed myself for a few days on a trek or something.’ Anybody can have an adventure; it doesn’t need to be to Mount Everest. It really was a beautiful story."
BEAR-LIKE. "It’s two guys who spend a summer up in Alaska getting very close to Grizzly Bears," Fish said of the film. "And I’ll say I found it as interesting and terrifying as I found ‘Free Solo.’”
Fish said he considers BANFF the premier North American mountain/outdoor film festival.
“I got engaged with them and I loved the people," he said. "The people are wonderful, the filmmakers are wonderful, and they’re just really good to work with.”
The festival was held virtually in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Fish said. This year's festival at the Banff Centre was smaller than in recent years.
With COVID putting so much entertainment on hold over the past two years, Fish said it's wonderful to see people out enjoying the festival again.
“In both Vancouver and Spokane, the two shows I’ve done so far this year, for many people, it was their first time out in a group setting [since COVID]," he said. "First of all, the audience was incredibly respectful and kind to everybody else. It went very smoothly. And then people were just like, ‘Oh, I missed this so much.’ And I love seeing it live and I’m so glad that right now it feels comfortable to do that. … The people in the audience share a common love for the outdoors and nature, and to be amongst a group like that was really wonderful.”
The film festival is 7 p.m., April 30, at the Historic Roxy Theatre in downtown Bremerton. Tickets are $18. Buy them here.
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