We have always contemplated stories centered around the limits of man, enforced by the boundaries of nature. Moses parted the waves of the Red Sea in the Bible, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories of a family honing their survival skills on the American plains in the ‘Little House’ series, Jack and Ralph in ‘Lord of the Flies’ battled for leadership while stranded in the relentless heat of the uninhabited tropical island. It is in these conditions, our characteristics in their truest form are revealed.
These tales perfectly translate to the cinema as well. In recent years, Werner Herzog’s documentary Grizzly Man told the tragic story of Timothy Treadwell, a determined wildlife enthusiast who sought to break new scientific ground by living with a family of unpredictable grizzly bears.
Leonardo Di Caprio battled against the bitter conditions of unorganised territory in the semi-biographical story of Hugh Glass in The Revenant.
This fascination has continued into the latest awards season, thanks to the Oscar-Winning documentary Free Solo. Alex Honnold became the first person to climb Yosemite’s 3000ft El Capitan wall, with no ropes or any form of safety equipment.
Banff Mountain Film Festival heads to the Norwich Theatre Royal next week. In this selection of short films, the viewer is taken on a journey across all corners of the globe, exploring the compelling and complex emotional stories of the inspirational people who tackled the greatest challenges the world has to offer. We’ve taken a closer look at the programme:
Skier vs Drone
It’s a classic battle of man vs machine. Olympic bronze medallist Victor Muffat-Jeandet takes on drone pilot Jordan Temkin on the slopes of Snowbird in Utah.
FILMMAKER: Mike Douglas
DURATION: 4 minutes
How to Run 100 Miles
Jayson Sime had a tough start to life: he grew up facing poverty, homelessness, dyslexia and bullying. But he learned to fight. In 2017, he entered his first 100-mile mountain ultramarathon (including a daunting 6,000m of ascent), betting on his life-long resilience to carry him to the finish line of Colorado’s epic Run Rabbit Run. A film of pain, suffering, persistence – and glory.
FILMMAKER: Brendan Leonard
DURATION: 27 minutes
Marcel and Andrezj are legendary mountaineers. They have been the first to conquer the highest and hardest peaks. To reach the summit of a daunting unclimbed peak they will have to overcome formidable obstacles, suffer hardships and endure each other’s company for a very long time. But how will they cope when Andrezj is no longer willing to continue in Marcel’s shadow?
FILMMAKER: Ignasi López Fàbregas
DURATION: 11 minutes
This Mountain Life
Martina and her 60-year-old mum Tania embark on an epic ski traverse from Vancouver to Alaska – six months and 2,300km of journeying though relentless mountain wilderness. This Mountain Life is a multi-award-winning film and a riveting portrait of the human passion for adventure, set high in the peaks of British Columbia, Canada.
FILMMAKER: Grand Baldwin, Jen Rustemeyer
DURATION: 38 minutes
Far Out: Kai Jones
Kai Jones may be only 11, but in the mountains age doesn’t matter. This next level kid is following in his family’s ski tracks… Right into backflips and tricks off cliffs. Watch in awe as one of the world’s next great skiers in the making, takes on the mountain.
FILMMAKER: Teton Gravity Research
DURATION: 5 minutes
Ice and Palms
‘Unorthodox’ is the word used to describe German friends Max and Jochen’s many adventures, and their latest expedition – five weeks, 1,800km and 35,000km vertical metres self-propelled across the Alps – is no different. Starting in Germany and finishing at the Mediterranean, Ice and Palms tells of a raucous bikepacking journey, summiting mountains and skiing iconic lines along the way.
FILMMAKER: Jochen Mesle, Max Kroneck
DURATION: 25 minutes
As a young adult Jon Wilson lost his leg to cancer, but he hasn’t let that stop him sinking his teeth back into life and shredding gnarly mountain bike trails. In Ascend, he shares his motivation for continuing to ride, even though the odds are stacked against him.
FILMMAKER: Simon Perkins, Sharptail Media
DURATION: 6 minutes
Banff Mountain Film Festival opens Wednesday 20 March, 7.30pm.
To book tickets, visit ntr.org.uk/Banff