2020 Banff Mountain Film Competition Finalists
24 Leeches documents a family canoe adventure to the Slate Islands of Ontario, Canada and more importantly a way of life. One part family adventure, one part environmental film, 24 Leeches is a tribute to a father's best friend and adventure partner, his 10-year-old son.
A Few Steps From Home
The idea is simple. A small mountain hut, a warm stove, and three friends. Even if the big cities of Munich and Innsbruck are almost in sight, wild mountain adventures can often be found right out the back door.
A Plea for Refuge
Two adventurous friends, Jeff Shapiro and Cody Tuttle, have a desire to experience one of the last, raw, and truly preserved wilderness areas on the North American continent. Through the attempt to hike and fly paragliders across the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in the eastern Brooks Range of Alaska, north of the Arctic Circle, they gain a necessary and visceral connection with the importance of fiercely protecting its nature. During the adventure, their perspectives on friendship, risk and the importance of the word wilderness evolve, making for memories of a lifetime; lifetimes which prove to not only to be finite, but worth sharing if the result is to maintain this special landscape, as it is, for generations to come.
Anay Kachi: The Salt Workers of the Peruvian Andes
At 3,300 m above sea level in the Peruvian Andes, indigenous people have been harvesting salt by hand for over 600 years, prior to the Inca times. Through the eyes of Laurita, a 65-year-old indigenous salt worker, this short film explores the cultural importance that this place has had for the people of Maras and how it is shaping the next generation.
BEAR-LIKE (DER BÄR IN MIR)
Two adventurers engage in close contact with grizzly bears in Alaska experiencing first-hand the struggle for survival and dramatic fighting scenes. Driven by a desire to explore the unknown, the film tells a personal story of wilderness, framed through breathtaking footage of these amazing creatures.
Beyond the cliche
Biologist and passionate wildlife photographer Baptiste Bataille takes an uncommon journey to the foothills of the Himalaya in search of the elusive snow leopard.
The Big Bang
In 2017 Emma Twyford walked across a rocky outcrop towards the historical crag of Lower Pen Twyrn with the sole intention to “have a play and see what 9a feels like”. Follow Emma on this ambitious journey to becoming one of the most respected climbers in UK.
Born From Junk
Born From Junk traces the outlaw roots of mountain biking back to its raw beginnings in Crested Butte, where a crew of unlikely pioneers in pursuit of wild times in the mountains blossomed into a global phenomenon.
Five top freeskiers and one World Champion drone pilot go Cat Skiing in BC for a week. Their instructions: charge as hard as you can everyday.
Five Indigenous Bolivian women embark on a unique expedition as a symbol of liberation and empowerment. Their goal? The highest peak in the Americas, Aconcagua.
Choosing To Live
While mourning her late husband, Sarah Hornby craved an opportunity to connect with him through his biggest passion. Her goal was simple. She would attempt 10 bikepacking routes he created – and as she pedaled, her story transformed from sadness and loss to a profound celebration of life.
Jesse Dufton was born with 20% central vision. As his sight continues to degenerate his climbing continues to make remarkable progress. Despite his devastating condition Jesse takes on bigger challenges by attempting to be the first blind person to lead climb the iconic Old Man of Hoy in Scotland.
This past spring, climber Hazel Findlay faced off with the immaculate 70-metre splitter, Concepción (5.13), located in the southwest desert near Moab, Utah. With a 15-metre crux of what Hazel describes as “purple and greens”– meaning .5 and .75 Camalots – Concepción pushed Hazel harder than she expected. Ironically success sometimes happens when “you just kind of let yourself climb.”
Confessions of a Runner
Ultra-running evokes notions of insanity, dedication, and the pursuit of mind over body. A blend of eye-popping scenery, extreme human achievement, and revealing personal stories, Confessions of a Runner features Patrick Vaughan, an accomplished trail runner as he shares his story of healing and redemption while pursuing the record for completing the 470-kilometre Lebanon Mountain Trail, traversing from Syria to the Israeli border.
The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
There are estimated to be over 350,000 red deer in Scotland. Deer populations, when uncontrolled, have a massive impact on the landscape and ecosystem structures of the Highlands. As a result, deer are culled each year in an attempt to manage and maintain the landscape and ecosystem that they are a central part of. Over the last thirty years however, a debate has raged regarding the size, nature, and purpose of the deer cull. The impact of this debate changes how people see, interact with and even inhabit the Scottish highlands.
Five years after breaking his back in a snowboarding accident and being left paralyzed from the waist down, Trevor Kennison returns to the backcountry with a new outlook.
After robbing a bank, athletes Jake Hopfinger and Parkin Costain are now flush with cash and are able to live all of their wildest skiing fantasies.
Earn Your Turn
Born in the French Alps, mountains flow through Julien “Pica” Herry’s veins. A modest pioneer of steeps and alpine terrain, his skills take him to places few have gone before. Earn Your Turn is the story of a simple, humble man who finds fulfillment in sharing his love and respect for mountains across the globe.
Echoes In The Arctic
Echoes in the Arctic follows celebrated wildlife photographer Paul Nicklen and a team of dedicated filmmakers and scientists on a vivid cinematic journey as they document the world's healthiest orca population in the Norwegian Arctic in the hopes of protecting the ecosystem from oil exploration.
The Elder (The Winter)
The Ainu are an ancient people of Japan, who largely inhabit Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan's four main islands. For centuries, Ainu elders have passed down important history, songs, and dances through oral lore. In a remote Kotan called Lake Akan, these traditions live on today.
Far Far Est
Far Far Est is a proud Québecois short film about Charles and Olivier’s love for skiing and surfing on the North-American East coast. While they might not be dropping into the craziest ski lines you will see this year, the two explorers make sure to turn this trip into a real-life fairy tale.
We follow Salomon-athlete Jeanelle Hazlett as she attempts to establish a Fastest Known Time (FKT) record on Mount Brunswick, British Columbia. One wrong step could mean serious injury or death.
Two of the most experienced paragliding pilots engage in exploration of the Spiti Valley in the Indian Himalaya. Thomas de Dorlodot, a multiple world record holder, leads Horacio Llorens, a six-time aerobatic world champion, to find out why few have tried to fly in this place where, according to local folklore, the gods live. Mountains brush against sky and glaciated peaks rise up to 6,500 metres high. Arid, dry, and rocky landscapes produce violent aerial conditions and their remoteness makes oxygen supplies impossible. Despite risks, the athletes take us on an exhilarating scenic discovery of this unique valley and the sky beyond.
Follow The Forecast
As snow sport enthusiasts, we live and die by the forecast. We plan life around it, we revel in it. This winter we will relinquish control: to the forecast.
Free as Can Be
When a young climber infatuated with climbing history meets an old legend, he commits to helping him accomplish his lifelong goal of free-climbing El Capitan.
From Kurils With Love
Vladimir, a scrappy-but-aging Russian marine mammal biologist, unexpectedly hitch hikes aboard a boat filled with adventure photographers out of a desperate need to return to his science monitoring stations. Two weeks before, his boat was lost to the explosion of the Raikoke volcano. He is on a mission to help protect the Kuril Islands before his age fails him, and so the team sets out in one of the most remote volcanic island chains in the world to help Vladimir.
The Ghosts Above
A team sets out to solve one of the greatest mysteries in exploration: who made the first ascent of Mt. Everest. Every stereotype they know about the mountain and its people are turned on its end during this brutally honest look at the current state of affairs during one the busiest Everest seasons in history.
On the face of it, Gitonga is a film about a Kenyan father who rediscovers his love for hiking and sets out to follow his dream of becoming the first black Kenyan to climb Mount Everest. At its heart, this is the beautiful and emotional story of an extraordinary man who explores what it means to be a hiker, a father, and a human being. He is a man on a mission to inspire his son, his nation, and the world to do what ‘makes their heart dance’.
Godspeed, Los Polacos!
Godspeed, Los Polacos! is a feature length documentary set in 1979 Soviet Era Poland. The film tells the story of five university students on the edge of adulthood who skillfully pull the strings of the Soviet system and find themselves in the Americas with a six-wheeled military truck, homemade kayaks, and little-to-no whitewater skills. The story follows their epic two-year journey that culminates with an attempt of the world’s deepest canyon and a life-threatening dash for political asylum.
The Great Milestone
A well-to-do mountaineer’s hobby is reaching the summits of the highest mountains. He has one last goal to complete this special collection: that impossible summit, the one he is determined to climb, whatever it takes. Meanwhile his wife, bored of waiting for her husband to return from his excitement-packed mountain escapades, decides to take matters into her own hands.
Horimono: Japan's Tattoo Pilgrimage
Japan has an uneasy relationship with tattoos, which have come to be associated with organized crime. Living amongst heavy stereotypes, a group of tattooed individuals practice a centuries-old pilgrimage to a mountain shrine, now one of the few places where the traditional full-body tattoo (“horimono”) can be shown and celebrated.
For years Kieren D’Souza has been planning a new speed record on the 53-kilometre route up Mt. Friendship, a peak towering above Manali, the town in Himachal Pradesh where D’Souza lives. Usually, teams rope up, carry ice axes, and take four or five days to reach the summit and get back to base camp. If something goes wrong, you’re on your own. Hoping to set a snowball in motion, Kieren sets off with the goal of inspiring Indians to experience mountains in a different way.
Iran, Teaching among the Nomads
Hoomayun, a young Iranian school teacher, sets off on a journey to accompany a group of Bakhtyari nomads as they migrate with their flock across the Zagros mountain range in search of greener pastures. At the end of every walking day, he gathers the children and teaches the class. Hoomayun is committed to providing the best education possible to his students, most of whom want to settle in the city. The children are indeed reluctant to pursue a life of hardships in the footsteps of their parents, but without a proper education, they stand very little chance to find a job and survive in the city.
The Jujurana's Kingdom
This short film takes us on a journey into the kingdom of the Jujurana. It highlights what it takes to protect one of the most vulnerable pheasants in the world at a time when India is rapidly losing its biodiversity. The state of Himachal Pradesh is not only home to one of the largest protected populations of these birds, but is also the only place in the world where they are currently being bred in captivity for eventual release in the wild.
K2: The Impossible Descent
K2, the Savage Mountain, holds a mythical place in the hearts of climbers around the world –1 in 4 do not return from it. On July 22, 2018, Polish ski-mountaineer Andrzej Bargiel makes ‘the impossible descent’ from its summit. He does it solo, and without supplemental oxygen. The mountaineering community are stunned and mainstream press take notice. This feature documentary explores the man behind the achievement and the circumstances he endured to get there. His close-knit crew (including his younger brother) overcome biblical weather, unchartered terrain, and life-threatening rescue missions.
The Legend of Tommy G
Where in the world is Tommy G? The Belgian freerider has been a bit aloof lately and wild rumours have been spreading throughout the mountain bike world. Rumours about breaking the sound barrier, riding on water and detonating berms with the sickest of styles.
The Lonely Star
An ill-fated explorer finds himself marooned on a desolate planet. Alone with his thoughts, he is caught between a sandy reality and snowy hallucinations of winters past.
The Long Today
My Dad turned 70 this summer. So he found a “river” on a map, repaired one of his old wood canoes, and invited his family to help him celebrate the big day. Only a few of us showed up.
Made in Voyage
Makatea Vertical Adventure
Makatea is a circle of coral raised about a hundred metres above a turquoise sea. It is filled with a large variety of fauna and flora, a dream landscape... but also an exploited and abandoned island in the middle of Polynesia. Erwan Le Lann and Marion Courtois discover the incredible limestone cliffs that the island offers right beside the sea and they discuss the possibilities of a new world renowned climbing destination with the locals.
It was supposed to be just a regular ski touring adventure in the Ötztal Alps before this crew came under pressure from the pandemic wave in Austria in March 2020. After long discussions shortly before the trip began, they decide to ascend to a tiny old hut on the Timmelsjoch High Alpine Road. It seemed like there was nothing standing in the way of the project anymore ... or was there?
Mother Earth is a short narrated by Daniel Wells, a member of Lil’wat First Nation. The film showcases the deep connection both bikers and First Nations have with nature and the necessity to listen and protect their environment. From open meadows to ancient forests, we discover stunning landscapes through the riding of professional-biker William Robert.
48 days of adventure, 250 kilometres of ski touring, 3800 metres of ascent up Mt. Logan, a first descent down the East Ridge and a 400 kilometre river trip back to the sea. Fully unsupported, Helias Millerioux, Alexandre Marchesseau, and Thomas Delfino redefine what it means to take a long journey.
My Last Day of Summer
It is the last day of summer and Julia is at the local bike shop hoping that her bike can be fixed. While checking out the flashy displays of new bikes and shiny components, a comic book catches her eye and she soon finds herself on a ride like no other.
Nahanni River of Forgiveness
The Dene are Indigenous people in Canada’s Northwest Territories. Dehcho Dene spent the winters hunting and trapping in the mountains along the South Nahanni River. In the spring they would build a great moose-skin boat. When the ice broke, the families with all their belongings and their harvest of dried meat and furs would set off down the magnificent Nahanni River. A moose-skin boat hasn’t been seen on the Nahanni in one hundred years! Now Dene want to re-awaken this tradition, to reconnect with the spirit – the spirit of their ancestors, the spirit of their land, and of their culture. It is a sacred, healing journey to reclaim whatever has been lost.
Come aboard for three minutes of thundering skiing with Sam Favret through the Aiguilles Rouges of Chamonix, no gimmicks or tricks and no music. Instead, the sound of the elements immerses you into the tracks of this local Chamonix rider.
The North Face Presents: Lhotse
It’s not always what we achieve that defines us, rather it is why we achieve such things that creates clarity in our existence. In 2018, Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison completed the first ski descent of the 27,940-foot Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world. This is their story.
Ocean to Asgard
Four friends travel to Baffin Island for a forty-day human-powered adventure, featuring first ascents, paddle descents, and a surprising number of wild flamingos.
PATHFINDER - Life beyond fear
Pathfinder follows six world-class slackliners on a mission deep in the Norwegian mountains and their attempt at something that's never been seen before: Walking a highline, elevated in the vastness between two colossal cliffs, illuminated only by the mystical northern lights.
Picture of His Life
He has swum with crocodiles and killer whales, with anacondas and with great white sharks. But one major predator has eluded Amos Nachoum. The legendary underwater photographer always dreamed of swimming with a polar bear and capturing it face-to-face on film. He’s tried before and barely escaped with his life, but now, as he nears the end of his career, he is determined to give it one last shot. The danger is real, perhaps more real than ever before, but this is his last chance to get The Picture of His Life.
Project Wild Women
Kopal Goyal was born and raised in a small village and wanted to escape the stifling surroundings of her orthodox family. With many questions in her mind, she went on a journey across India to find like-minded women who had an interest in extreme sports. Project Wild Women explores 13 women practicing 11 different alternative sports in India where the pursuit of extreme sports by women is still frowned upon.
Pushed up the Mountain
Pushed up the Mountain is a poetic and emotionally intimate film about plants and the people who care for them. Through the tale of the migrating rhododendron, now endangered in its native China, the film reveals how high the stakes are for all living organisms in this time of unprecedented destruction of the natural world.
Return to El Guayas
Award-winning filmmaker Ben Stookesberry joins up with Red Bull paddler Rafa Ortiz and long-time expedition kayaker Lane Jacobs to attempt the first descent of one of Colombia’s wildest rivers: El Rio Guayas. Ben, Lane, and Rafa reach the river with a perfect flow and perfect weather. In the middle of night two, rain pours down, leaving the team stranded in the most remote part of the canyon. With rumors of armed groups in mind, they paddle blindly into the now flooded unknown river.
River Tigers: Giant Taimen of the Russian Far East
An unlikely trio is lured to a remote river in the wilderness of the Russian far east in search of a mythical 68-kilogram trout. The adventurers –a billionaire Russian businessman, an American fly fisherman, and a Russian scientist — must join forces to unlock the river’s secrets in order to save it.
Run the Line
Overgrown, farmed, pushed out, sold off and only half there, Beau sets off with shovel in hand, dressed like a 50's train driver, to re-trace an old train-line. To run the line end to end would be the first human passing in over 60 years. Police, fences, blackberries, runner musings and leftover pasta, map Beau against a warm autumn day as he makes his way across a landscape he's lived in his whole life.
Running The Roof
Like all good stories, this one begins with a drunken bet. Three friends, bonded by a love of running, were desperate to ditch their desks and go on an adventure. One night, after a few too many drinks, they placed a bet, spun a globe and their finger landed on Tajikistan. Tajikistan! This is a story without finish lines or medals but rather a story about what happens when you trust in nothing but your own two feet to carry you across one of the last truly wild landscapes on earth.
The Secret of Bottom Turn Island
Snowboarder Alex Yoder searches to the ends of the earth for the lost art of "snow-surfing" only to find the answers he seeks on Bottom Turn Island.
Shaped by Descent
Shaped by Descent follows professional skier, Lexi DuPont, over the course of ten years in Haines, Alaska. For Lexi, skiing has always been a family affair. From her early days in Sun Valley skiing with her mom and sisters, to learning the ropes in Haines from her brother in-law Reggie Crist, skiing is deep in her blood. Lexi overcomes the trials and tribulations that come from being one of the best female big mountain skiers on the planet.
Skivas is a 100% female ski movie showcasing 10 of the best female skiers and snowboarders during 2020 winter season to stack shots in urban, freeride, and in the backcountry – and to show how riding is more than just a sport. It’s a lifestyle and an art.
Tempo. Movements in Mountains
Tempo: Movements in Mountains is a conceptual exploration of the connection Kyle Richardson finds between his athletic pursuits in Boulder's Flatirons, and his background as a musician. Experienced through three short movements, Kyle performs a live score in a visceral interpretation of his expression in the hills.
Ten Thousand Bolts
10,000 Bolts is a short film about Toni Arbones, a professional rock climber and route bolter who, over the course of 30 years, has single-handedly turned Siurana, Spain into one of the most popular rock climbing areas in all of Europe. Bolting is an often overlooked process, integral to climbing and considered by climbers to be a unique art form. It is a craft that Toni has dedicated his life to perfecting.
The Wall Of Shadows
A Sherpa family breaks a taboo and climbs the most holy of mountains to earn money for their son’s education. They accompany a western expedition on East Wall of Khumbakarna Mountain, a wall that has never been climbed before. Wall of Shadows tells the story of an encounter between a young Sherpa boy and an experienced western mountaineer at the foot of the sacred mountain. Will they face the wrath of mountain Gods?
Then Comes the Evening
Then Comes the Evening depicts the bittersweet life of two grannies living in isolation in the hills of Eastern Bosnia. Nature is the medium through with which grannies speak, listen, and show respect. Chants and taming rituals for adverse weather, hail, and storms only emphasize their intangible cultural heritage. The slow pace of this film reflects the simplicity and purity of their way of life and documents their painstaking work.
Voice Above Water
Voice Above Water is the story of Wayan, a 90-year-old fisherman who can no longer fish because of the amount of plastic piling up in the ocean. Instead he uses his fishing boat and net to pull trash from the water in hopes of being able to fish again.
Water Flows Together
Water Flows Together elevates the importance of acknowledging Indigenous land in outdoor recreation through the voice of Colleen Cooley, one of the few female Diné (Navajo) river guides on the San Juan River. In sharing Colleen's perspective, we are given a glimpse into native views on issues of water resource management, which are often missing from larger discussions of western water challenges.
When Glaciers Go
The remote Mustang region of Nepal is on the front line of our planet’s changing climate. With glacial water shortages forcing the Gurung family and neighbors from their homes, a course is charted for future generations and the Gurung family splits ways. The younger generation moves to a new village leaving behind traditional agriculture to grow apples as a cash crop to sell on the global market.
Where I Belong
Chris Hill, an environmental lobbyist and angler, never saw people like herself on the river until recently. Through social media platforms like Instagram, traditionally underrepresented voices are creating communities to encourage one another and amplify their message - we belong here too.
Wild & Wool
Bighorn sheep, an icon of the American West, are battling to survive as contact with an infectious diseases carried by domestic sheep threatens these wild herds. Domestic sheep grazing on public land was an integral part of colonial settlement in the western United States. However, as conservation efforts ramp to rebound bighorn populations, the wool industry, scientific community, and wildlife advocates are at a crossroads.
Will Power follows Red Bull Athlete Will Gadd as he travels with local friends to the Taihang Mountains of China in the hopes of finding new ice climbing routes. Along the way, warm weather challenges the climbers and cultural openness and friendship prove more valuable than ever.
It's a world first: three athletes fly with a huge zeppelin to the Eastern Alps in Austria to abseil and ski and snowboard on steep terrain.