Adventure junkies in beanies and technical jackets gathered around tables with cans of Fernie Brewing Co. beer at the 14th annual Fernie Mountain Film Fest this past Friday and Saturday. Rainbow Nepali prayer flags and hand painted wooden signs pointing the way to famous peaks decorated the community centre. Lining the front of the stage were 14 photos, finalists in this year’s photo contest, waiting for attendees to vote on their favourite. A number of outdoor subjects were represented in shot, ranging from rock climbers dangling from outrageous heights, to icy jagged peaks, to canoers paddling serenely through algae covered lakes.
The event was created to celebrate the intersection of cinematography, adventure, and the outdoors through showcasing professional and amateur films from all over the world. Apart from seeking to inspire attendees to partake in outdoor sports, the festival seeks to raise awareness about the value of outdoor spaces, and the importance of sustaining them for generations to come.
“The selection committee strives to screen a wide ranging variety of films that sync with our mission statement: ‘dedicated to filmmakers who spark awareness of mountain cultures, fragile environments, and the passion and perseverance of global explorers’,” said Brian Bell, the festival’s coordinator. “We seek out roughly half of our films to ensure our festival is well rounded and has a variety of highly produced films, and others that are perhaps more raw.”
Michael Bull emceed the event, introducing each of the films while attendees munched on vegetarian and meat pies from Two Guys and their Damn Meat Pies. Also available at the event were a variety of drinks and popcorn, with proceeds going towards the Ghostriders Kids Camp.
When the first film began, exclamations emanated from the crowd as scenes of speed riders danced across the screen. Speed riding is a thrilling sport that mixes freeride skiing with paragliding and the film managed to get everyone’s adrenaline pumping. Other films touched on subjects of ecological salience, such as the importance of protecting grizzly bear habitat, or the environmental issues that stem from tourism in the backcountry.
“Every year it has to be mountain oriented and it has to be about preservation of the environment. We try to tick as many boxes as we can. One of the things that we definitely try to not do is only cover ski or snowboard shredding. We try to get the whole environmental factor in there as well,” said Sean McTernan, festival committee member.
The movies depicted a breadth of extreme sports, covering topics from ultra marathoners pushing their bodies to the utmost limits, to white water kayakers tumbling down waterfalls in plastic playboats.
“Women in sport was a big one this year,” remarked McTernan, mentioning how committee members wanted to see more content that encouraged females to take part in what is otherwise a male dominated industry.
Pertaining to this subject were films such as She Shreds, a female focused flick following women mountain biking on local Kootenay trails. Also highlighting the power of women in outdoor sports, was a film following Lucy Barnard and her dog Wombat. Barnard seeks to be the first female to walk the length of the Earth, beginning in the South of Argentina and culminating in northern Alaska.
Apart from shorter films, two feature length films were also shown. Queen Maud Land was screened the first night, a thrilling exposition on an Antarctic expedition with some of the world’s top climbers. The second night showcased Drawn from Here, and Climbing Blind, films about the motivations of a professional skier, and the gripping story of a blind rock climber, respectively.
Despite the range in subject matter, every film itched feet. They blended cohesively as accounts of grit, visceral living, an appreciation for nature, and limitless mental and physical ability.
McTernan called the event a great success, admiring the way it tied together generations of people with a passion for the mountains, the outdoors, and adventure sports.
“You get every facet of the community,” said McTernan. “Events like this get everybody together…it’s good to get [the community] together and show the importance of mountain culture.”