Banff Mountain Film Festvial Tour 2024 is Sensational

Rob Howard / 18.04.2024
Trekking in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan
Trekking in the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan / © Banff Mountain Film Festival / Chronoception

The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is now in its 15th year and has a dedicated following in more than 40 countries attending shows in 5000 venues around the world.  It’s a night of adventure, art and inspiration not to be missed and gets better and better every year with increasingly innovative and creative filming celebrating those who explore and embrace life in the mountains.

This year’s Red programme screening in the UK features 6 very different films from around the world, selected from over 400 entries to the festival.  (There is also a totally different blue programme shown at different venues and times.)  The Red programme films explore time, our senses, design, humour, relationships and pushing boundaries in climbing, mountain biking, packrafting, skiing and snowboarding. 

Soundscape shares the remarkable experience of climbing a mountain by echo location, touch, imagination and strength.  The film follows blind climber Eric Weihenmayer on an ascent of the huge 1000m rock face of ‘The Incredible Hulk’ in California’s Sierra Nevada.  Eric, who has climbed the seven summits, speaks about his determination not to lose the opportunity to climb due to his lack of sight and how he experiences the outdoors through his other senses. 

Clever animation explains how he uses echo location to find his way, guided by film maker Timmy O’Neil, and his sense or ‘view’ from the summit is when there are no returning echoes, just infinite space.  O’Neil guides his finger along the mountains on the horizon to help him visualise the scene, and does the same at the start of the climb to show Weihenmayer the rock face and route, which he says “sounds so steep”.  During the climb he feels for holds, and explains he may not find the best hold, but keeps moving up as it isn’t worth spending the energy searching for a better one. The film makes you wonder if you are truly sensing the outdoors in the way you could.

Blind climber Eric Weihenmayer climbing The Incredible Hulk

Cross Countries follows Mountain Biking legend Kilian Bron through iconic and thrilling rides in some of North America’s most iconic locations, from New York City to Moab and British Columbia.  Some of the sequences drew gasps from the audience, while the ending left them a little confused and slow to applaud, asking the question of what is real in film making today.

Another film about pushing the limits of what is possible was Reel Rock; DNA which follows Seb Bouin establishing a new route in France’s Verdon Gorge that is so futuristic it’s likely the hardest climb in the world.  After climbing through the winter and failing crux moves hundreds of times he finally succeeds in completing the almost impossible route with the help of his mother, who is his main climbing partner (herself an 8b climber), who is an entertaining co-star in the film and the inspiration for the route and film name.   

Another mother and son relationship is featured in Sheri, a film about Sheri Tingey whose design genius and innovation drove the development of Alpacka Rafts and forever changed paddlesports in the wilderness (and in adventure racing).  Overcoming chronic fatigue and misogynist prejudices after being asked by her son to redesign his own raft, she redefined the pack raft concept and established a successful company aged 50. 

Seb Bouin climbing DNA

The longest film in the programme is Chronoception, following a talented team of French skiers and snowboarders on an exploratory expedition to the remotest part of the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan.  The team were forced to load-carry long distances into the region they wanted to explore, enduring extreme weather and long delays, and gave up on their original plans before skiing breathtaking lines down unexplored peaks.  The crux was a high risk descent of the 5056m peak, Night Butterfly, made more fulfilling by the trials and time taken to make the descent.  It was one day on the mountain after weeks getting there, but the experience was valued more for that.

The film is not just about the expedition; it explores our perception of time and has a strong sense of place, weaving traditional dance and music from the region with stunning images of the landscape.  Film maker Guillaume Broust spent a year in post production and the result is a superb film which is very different from traditional expedition documentaries and takes you on a journey into the time and place those on the expedition experienced.

The programme ends with by following a new comedy double act, Joe Dubay and Chris Parr, as they invent the discipline of tandem cross country skiing (yes, two people on one pair of skis) and take part in the American Birkebeiner.  Joe won the race 10 years ago, only to be disqualified for wearing Chris’ bib and the pair returns for redemption, aiming to win in their own, newly invented, category.  It doesn’t work out like that, but they succeed in finishing and the story is told with great humour in the film Pioneers, and had the audience in stitches.

Whichever programme is showing near you, get along to the Banff Film Festival World Tour for a great night of entertainment.

You can find details for UK and Ireland dates at and for other countries at

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