Best of Banff 

Escape Route brings on the Best of Banff

What: The Best of the Banff Film Festival

Where: Myrtle Phillip Community Centre

When: Saturday, Nov. 30 and Sunday, Dec.1

The ‘Cannes’ of the mountain world is making its way to Whistler. It’s the Banff Film Festival World Tour. An international competition featuring the world’s best films and videos on mountain and adventure subjects.

The film festival’s tour will touch down in Whistler for two days only before travelling to over 29 countries on every continent, reaching a total audience of more than 100,000 people.

This is the 10th year that the show has come to Whistler and local hosts, the Escape Route, are confident this year’s entries will amaze and inspire.

Escape Route owner James Retty has selected what he describes as "the best balance between small budget and big budget, to suit all outdoor enthusiasts’ interests."

There will be approximately 16 different offerings screened over two nights, ranging from the funny to the phenomenal.

"There’s the whole cross-section available," said Retty. "Some have a duration of two minutes and were made by an amateur hobbyist and some are million dollar cinema masterpieces."

The grand prize winner of this year’s Banff Film Festival, The Second Step , is expected to be a particular crowd-pleaser. The film follows Warren Macdonald – who lost both his legs in a 1997 climbing accident – on his epic 28-day trek to reach Federation Peak in Tasmania.

"This will definitely be on the program," said Retty. "Every one of us knows someone who’s been debilitated, whether for a few weeks or for life, from injuring themselves in the sport they love. This film is truly inspirational as we watch Warren overcome his personal, physical hurdles."

Other entries that made the Whistler cut include Cannibals and Crampons about human flesh-eating tribes in the mountains of Papua New Guinea.

"It’s a good-looking film, that we can relate to on one aspect with the mountains and jungle, but then there’s this whole fascinating footage on a subject we know little about and can’t possibly fathom," said Retty.

Also on the agenda is Jehovah’s Wetness , a crazy kayaking film where a bunch of kamikazes explore the world’s wildest rivers, including The Mekong in Laos, the Congo and the Orinoco.

Whistler and Vancouver have had their fair share of entries in the Banff Film Festival and this year is no exception. Retty chuckled, "there’s a two minute film called White Trax featuring an extreme unicyclist from North Vancouver, Kris Holms, who takes on moguls with one wheel."

Another exciting extreme video features a Norwegian kite skier.

One of the most surprising award winners at this year’s festival, was 15-year-old B.C. boy Daniel Kingsbury, of Roberts Creek. He walked away with the award for Best Film on Mountain Sports. Kingsbury’s film The Essence of Adolescence is described as "a celebration of the exuberance of youth, expressed through snowboarding, BMX biking and skateboarding." Retty said it not only shows his highlights but his lowlights, "making for an interesting, energetic and heartfelt mix of emotions."

In the more traditional mountain section, there’s a mixed climbing video from the Canmore area plus a feature called A Matter Of Doubt .

"This film is amazing. A team of climbers traverse the east ridge of the Annapurna summit, which is a very complex climb 24,000 feet above sea level. You’ll bite your nails watching this one," Retty said.

The collection’s aim is to not only stun the audience with spectacular scenery but should "make us question how easy life is here, and what we can do to better the planet and our own souls," said Retty.

The Escape Route recommends buying tickets before the show as seats are strictly limited. Tickets are $14 in advance, or $15 at the door. For those who want to attend both nights, there is a reduced rate of $25.

Doors at the Myrtle Philip Community Centre will open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.

For more information visit the Escape Route in Marketplace, or call 604-938-3228.

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