Hits of the 2018 Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival, the premier event of its kind, ended last Sunday. For the next year, a selection of the best films will go to 40 countries, to air in more than 800 screenings in the festival’s popular World Tour. Below, trailers and brief writeups of the winners in the adventure categories.

Exploration and Adventure: Plan C-14 II

The obscure title doesn’t do justice to this sweet film about an 83-year-old Argentinian man, whose body is finally breaking down after an active life, embarking on one last expedition to pay homage to his late cycling companion.


Climbing: Free Solo

Some viewers say that watching this much-touted film of Alex Honnold’s free solo of the classic Freerider route (5.12d) on El Capitan is like witnessing man’s first footsteps on the moon. But more than a documentary of a supreme athletic achievement, the film is also a character study of an emotionally detached guy who takes on the most dangerous project of his life while dealing with the distractions of his first serious love affair.


Feature-Length Mountain Film: The Dawn Wall

Another landmark climb on El Capitan, long the yardstick of big-wall excellence. Although Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson used ropes, unlike Honnold, they tackled an even more formidable technical challenge: 8 of the 32 pitches on the Dawn Wall are rated 5.14. Like Free Solo, The Dawn Wall is one of the few festival films with wide distribution, so it may be possible to catch it at a local theatre.


People’s Choice: The Bikes of Wrath

Five likeable Australians cycle from Oklahoma to California along the route followed by the Dust Bowl migrants in John Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath. The adventure is really an excuse for them to indulge in a cultural and historical exploration of the United States. They are currently cutting a second film about going down the Mississippi on a homemade raft, to be followed by a third adventure based on the Lewis and Clark expedition.


Grand Prize and Mountain Sports: The Weight of Water

In his biggest adventure since becoming the first blind person to climb Mount Everest and the Seven Summits, Erik Weihenmayer kayaks 450km down the entire length of the Grand Canyon. In the years since completing the Seven Summits in 2002, Weihenmeyer has become a highly paid motivational speaker. This lovely two-category winner shows that he still has the gift to inspire by his actions.