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Nick Jimenez’s Blog

Banff Mountain Film Festival

Nick Jimenez

Posted March 11, 2014

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Some NRDC friends and I recently went to see the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour on its stop in San Francisco. 

JVHaving gone last year, I wanted to return principally because you leave pumped up to go do things outside, which was again the effect the films had on me. I live in a city and I get most of my exercise in gyms, where I’ve just finished listening to Les Miserables on audiobook. Only sort of coincidentally, I’ve lately been into the rowing machine for my cardio exercise. I like to pretend that I’m the convict Jean Valjean in the galleys, rowing the building somewhere, and that my efforts will endow me with the “prodigious strength” I will need for later exploits. Against that background the Banff films are inspirational, like watching a friend escape.                                                                         Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Besides the beauty, necessity and joy of escaping into the outdoors, two other themes stood out to me in this year’s selection, which were represented by some great films. First was gender equality. The terrific documentary Ready to Fly chronicles the struggle to get women’s ski jumping included in the Winter Olympics. Spoiler alert: It featured at Sochi, though only the “normal hill” category, not “big hill.” Spice Girl gives the engaging story-thus-far one of the world’s best rock climbers, who cut her teeth on the crumbling (read: terrifying) cliffs of the British Isles and who continues to break new ground in the sport. Notably, SF ticket sales benefited the worthy nonprofit, Girl Ventures.

ski jumper

Photo: Tsutomu Takasu

Second, and more predictably, was environmental protection. Everyone should see the short (4 minute) documentary, I Am Red, about the desiccation of the Colorado River:

The Colorado River —The Most Endangered River in America 2013 from Peter McBride on Vimeo.

For a more in-depth review of the issue, check out another documentary, Watershed. If you follow Amanda Maxwell’s blog, you’ll be familiar with the subject of Streams of Consequence, the massive HidroAysén dams proposed to be built in the wilds of Patagonia. Fortunately, the project has seen serious setbacks lately (see here and here). Streams of Consequence is a succinct and aesthetically beautiful summary of why this is good news. 

HidroAysen protest

Protest of HidroAysén dams in Biobío, Chile. Photo: Claudio Jofré Larenas

Finally, The Last Ice Merchant, about the last guy to sell ice chipped from the glaciers of Ecuador’s Mt. Chimborazo, will melt your heart. Yes, he has to climb higher each year to get the ice.

One film took it away, however, and that’s the Norwegian surfing movie North of the Sun. I’m not even going to tell you any more about it because you should just watch it. Me, I’m going to get to work patching up that surfboard I found on the street.

Update: Surfboard has been epoxied since writing this post.


Now, to learn to surf.

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