#afilmclub - Banff Mountain Film Festival

The title of my post 'I can't run' says it all about my tricky relationship with exercise and sport. My mother's agility and athleticism skipped a sibling and was passed to my sister, while I wheezed around the hockey pitch. My boyfriend Mike goes mountain biking and running at the weekends, or strides up mountains while I stay at home, doing what I do best: Sitting down.

So this time last year, when he said we were going to a film festival celebrating outdoor sports, I thought I had misheard. I had no desire to ski, climb or kayak, never mind sit in a cinema for hours watching films about these activities. I'm thrilled to say I was completely wrong, and after my second year at it, I can say the Banff Mountain Film Festival world tour is one of the highlights of my year. 

The film festival is held in Banff, Canada every year and the best films then tour around the world. You can check if they're coming to a town near you HERE. There are two nights, the red programme and the blue programme and you can do both or one, depending on your schedule. Below are my five favourite films on the tour this year. 


Ever a lover of documentaries, Mike introduced me to Valley Uprising, a brilliant film about the history of mountain climbing as a sport. I find it completely bizarre that climbers have a strange compulsion to do it, no matter how dangerous.

Young Guns follows Ashima Shiraishi and Kai Lightner, 15 and 16-year-old climbers who are already pushing the boundaries of what is possible in this sport. They go on a trip to Norway together to practice their skills before Ashima attempts to make history by being the first woman to complete a V15 climb (basically, the whole thing is upside down).

You can watch the teaser trailer HERE, which gives you a small glimpse of Ashima's insane strength and talent.


Since I haven't tried most of the sports featured in these films, I can admire them from afar. Watching Jérémie Heitz ski down cliff faces was a whole other ball game, as I've been skiing. I was sweating. I mean, HE'S SKIING DOWN SLOPES HE NEEDED A PICK AXE TO CLIMB, THEY'RE SO STEEP.

To take his skills to the next level, Jérémie follows in his heros' footsteps and skis some of the highest slopes in the alps, ticking of his personal "wish list". His skill is as terrifying as what he's trying to accomplish.

You can watch the teaser trailer HERE.


I was impressed by all the inspirational women in this year's film selection, no more than with Mira, a film about Mira Rai, a long distance runner from Nepal. Like many women in Nepal, she left school young to help her mother at home. They were poor and conditions were so basic that she joined the Maoist guerrilla army just so she'd be eating two meals a day.

She played a lot of sport in the army and when the civil war ended, kept up running just for fun. She ended up entering a 21km race by chance, and won. In this film, we see her become an internationally renowned runner, and how this is positively affecting women back in Nepal.

You can watch the trailer HERE. 


Well, this film does what it says on the tin. Four Yorkshire mums decided they would enter the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, a rowing race over 3,000 miles long. Yes, rowing. As in, they were in a (fancy) rowing boat. They are the oldest all-female team to ever complete the race.

This was a charming pick-me-up of a film, and a good reminder that if you don't like your 9-5, you can be the one to shake up your own life. There's no trailer for this film but this video might give you an idea.


Ok, I'm totally biased here because I bloody love Danny Macaskill and his wee ginger face. This video, and his skills, need no introduction and you can watch the whole thing HERE on YouTube. Enjoy!

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#afilmclubLauren Aitchison