Banff mountain do

Fest shines on 'Everest,' other climbing pix

BANFF, Alberta — More than 7,000 are expected at this weekend’s 24th Banff film fest for sporty mountain folk — climbers, skiers and snowboarders — being held in this small resort town north of Calgary.

Attendance at the soldout Banff Mountain Film Fest has doubled in size over the past three years. It runs in conjunction with the fifth annual Banff Mountain Book Fest, also running through Sunday.

The growth can be attributed to the 1996 climbing tragedy on Everest, and the popularity of the IMAX feature “Everest” and author John Krakauer’s account “Into Thin Air,” organizer Bernadette McDonald, director of the Banff Centre for Mountain Culture, told Daily Variety.

Special ‘climber’s version’

The world preem of “Lost on Everest,” about legendary British climber George Mallory, will be screened today in Banff in a special “climber’s version” of the BBC/Nova documentary to be shown on PBS on Jan. 18. Mallory disappeared 75 years ago while attempting to climb the summit. His body was found on Everest earlier this year by Conrad Anker, who will appear at the fest.

There will be 180 screenings of 36 films, docus and shorts in the Banff Centre’s four theaters and, via satellite link, at the Banff Springs Hotel.

The juried fest has received 138 entries from 22 countries for films in four categories — climbing, mountain culture, mountain environment and mountain sport. Winners will be announced on Sunday.

The North American preem of the French feature “Caravan,” directed by Eric Valli, will be Saturday. It’s a contemporary fictional account of man against mountain, set in the remote Dolpo region of Nepal.

Also highlighting the fest is “I Made It,” the story of Goran Kropp, who bicycled from his home in Sweden, climbed Everest, then biked back home. Kropp will introduce the film.

A selection of about 16 Banff films goes on tour to 155 locations in North America and 20 locations abroad at the conclusion of the fest.