April 3 2013 12:00 AM

Film festival celebrates extreme sports, instills a love of nature

From the film Ernest

“Extreme” and “extraordinary” are two words that are frequently used to describe the Banff Mountain Film Festival. “Inspiration” follows closely behind.

“You can see all of these things that other people are doing,” said Mike Lohr, gear manager for the Michigan State University Outdoors Club, which hosts the local leg of the international touring festival. “It really gets the juices flowing.”

Thursday, Banff swings through East Lansing, where it’s appeared ever year since 1999. Proceeds from the festival go to the MSU Outdoors Club, which offers a variety of activities and trips for MSU students throughout the year, including rock climbing and backpacking excursions.

“Michigan has some outdoor activities but not the most extreme (ones),” said East Lansing festival coordinator Megan Cross. “This is a neat way to expose people to other activities.”

The festival was started in 1976 by a group of friends at the Banff Centre, an arts incubator in Alberta, Canada. What started as a film series wedged between climbing and skiing trips has turned into a full-fledged, nine-day festival with interactive, international satellite aspects, such as the one in East Lansing. Banff sends out a list of 30 of the best films to each tour stop, allowing groups like the Outdoors Club to choose their 10 favorites, of which they will receive about eight. Adams said that Banff sometimes makes suggestions, such as only having one feature-length film, but for the most part the club picks all the films.

While many films have to do with extreme activities, others focus on the environment and human relationships with it. For example, Cross said that the film “Ernest” is a powerful story about a man who believes in the philosophy that people should go outside more and be at one with their surroundings.

“If we´re not teaching that and passing that down to our children, there´s going to be a real disconnect with our environment,” said club President Elyse Kutche. “It´s not about doing these crazy, dangerous things — it’s about just being more aware of your surroundings and enjoying nature.” 

While some films should come with a “don’t try this at home” label, others will hopefully make viewers take a look at their own exercise habits.

“Most of us don´t participate in this sort of thing, (but) it´s really fun to see,” said Kutche. “It´s definitely a good motivation to get people out there.” 

Banff Mountain Film Festival
April 4
7:15 p.m.
N130, Broad Business College, MSU Campus, East Lansing
$10 students, $15 general

Banff Mountain Film Festival East Lansing schedule:   

“Industrial Revolutions” (2011, 5 min.) Danny “MegaSkill” MacAskill shows off his incredible trial bike talents at an abandoned factory.
“The Gimp Monkeys” (2012, 8 min.) Three friends attempt the first all-disabled ascent of Yosemite National Park´s El Capitan.
“Wild Bill´s Run” (2012, 47 min.) The true story of a 1972 snowmobiling expedition from Minnesota to Moscow.
“Lily Shreds Trailside” (2011, 4 min.) A Jack Russell Terrier rips up a trail.
“The Denali Experiment” (2011, 16 min.) A skier and a snowboarder descend Mt. Denali, the highest peak in North America.
“Highway Wilding” (2012, 13 min.) Examining the issue of wildlife vs. highways, showcasing some solutions to prevent roadkill.
“Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0” (2012, 33 min.) This year’s winner for Best Film-Climbing focuses on Alex Honnold as he attempts a Yosemite Triple Crown: solo climbing the parks three toughest peaks in 18 hours.
“Ernest” (2012, 5 min.) Meet Ernest Wilkinson, a mountain man who believes the younger generation is losing touch with the outdoors.