2014 Film Awards

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The 2014 Banff Mountain Film Competition winners were chosen during the 39th Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, held annually in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff, Alberta, Canada.

The international jury announced 11 award winners and one special mention.  In addition, two awards were chosen through audience voting: The People's Choice and the Radical Reels' People's Choice Award.

sponsored by MEC | $ 4,000


(USA, 2014, 90 min)
Director: Nick Rosen, Peter Mortimer, Josh Lowell
Producer: Zachary Barr
Production Company: Sender Films

The greatest untold story of American counterculture is that of the Yosemite Valley rock climbers. For 50 years, Yosemite's cliffs have drawn explorers to venture on the high, lonesome granite. Climbing greats like Royal Robbins, Yvon Chouinard and Tom Frost not only set new standards for climbing hard routes, they pioneered the “dirtbag” lifestyle. Part fact and part attitude, Valley Uprising takes us on a journey through the history of Yosemite right up to the present and shows why the big walls of this amazing place are still as coveted today as they were 50 years ago.

“The mountain culture in which so many of us here are a part of; we are pretty good at telling our stories to each other. We watch some sick action – and get totally stoked. However, sometimes we are less effective telling our stories to the rest of the world. This film tells an epic tale, giving us larger than life characters whose lives play out on a vast stage. The result is a work that will inspire not just climbers but the world at large.”

— Nicolas Brown, jury member.

Creative Excellence Award
Sponsored by Sole | $2,000


(USA, 2014, 7 min) 
Director: Renan Ozturk 
Producer: Aimee Tetreault 
Production Company: Camp4 Collective 

Free solo climber Alex Honnold is at it again, defying the laws of gravity, high and alone on a massive wall above the Mexican plains. Cedar Wright doesn’t know if he should talk some sense into his friend, or encourage him to do what he does best.

“This is a film that took us to a place both physically and emotionally where we entered the world of a free soloist, and for a few brief moments, shared in what must be one of the most sublime experiences possible for a human being. El Sendero Luminoso is a beautiful, poetic film with a soft touch that perfectly illustrates the age-old axiom that less is more.”

— Mark Synnott, jury member

Best Film — Exploration and Adventure
Sponsored by MSR | $2,000


(UK, 2013, 37 min) 
Director: Ben Finney 
Producer: Robb Ellender 

Most adventurers who set out to cross the Indian Ocean have some rowing experience. For two blokes from the UK, that seemed like a minor detail, not a death wish.

"And Then We Swam is a film about true adventure – the voyage of a Ship of Fools where the outcome, and even life or death, was unknown right down to the last possible minute. With complete irreverence and a total disregard for their own well-being, these two hugely likable characters proved that there is true greatness inside all of us, if we can just find the courage to go find it.”
— Mark Synnott, jury member.

Best Film — Mountain Culture
Sponsored by Helly Hansen | $2,000


(England, 2014, 40 min), subtitled 
Director: Andrew Hinton, Johnny Burke 
Production Company: Pilgrim Films 

There’s a brave social experiment taking place on a remote mountaintop in the foothills of the Himalaya. A former Buddhist monk is seeking to transform the lives of abandoned children through love and compassion. Tashi is especially vulnerable as she struggles to make friends, and learns that love can help heal even the saddest memories.

“Mountains can be brutal places to live. Perhaps this goes some way towards explaining how Tibetan buddhism has developed such a keen sense of compassion for all beings. Many westerners may have heard of these profound ideals, but in this film we are able to witness compassion in action. The experience is both surprising and humbling.”
— Nicolas Brown, jury member.

Best Film — Mountain Sports
Sponsored by Live Out There | $2,000


(France, 2013, 33 min), subtitled 
Director and Producer: Sébastien Montaz-Rosset 
Production Company: Montaz-Rosset Film 

Hold onto your hats, get ready, and buckle up for a wild ride packed full of thrills and spills. All aboard the Little Red Bus!

“This film puts art in the mountain and mountain in the art. Sometimes absurd, but always poetic, this film was made with huge commitment and a touch of wonderful French madness.”

— Benoît Aymon, jury member.

Best Film — Snow Sports
Sponsored by Oboz Footwear | $2,000


(USA, 2013, 109 min) 
Director: Lucy Walker 
Producer: Julian Cautherley 
Production Company: KP Rides Again LLC 

An escalating rivalry between snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his nemesis Shaun White in the run-up to the 2010 Olympics leaves Shaun on top of the Olympic podium and Kevin in a coma following a training accident in Park City, Utah. Kevin's tight-knit Vermont family flies to his side and helps him rebuild his life as a brain injury survivor. But when he insists he wants to return to the sport he still loves, his family intervenes. Will Kevin defy them and insist on pursuing his passion? How much risk is too much?

“Intense intimacy graces this film, as a close-knit family comes to grips with a catastrophic event while they negotiate its aftermath. This film touches deeply, but also helps us to understand – and may well spur us to take action within our own lives.”

— Joni Cooper, jury member.

Best Film — Mountain Environment and Natural History
Sponsored by Film Festival Flix | $2,000


(USA, 2014, 53 min) 
Director and Producer: David Allen 
Production Company: Passion Planet, THIRTEEN Productions LLC for WNET 

Being accepted into a community of wild mule deer living on the sage grass steppe of Wyoming is no easy task. Naturalist Joe Hutto embarked on a seven-year project to do just that.

“A scientist takes seven years to get to know a whole herd of new friends. Through patience, rigour and compassion he creates profound personal relationships. The film challenges the commonly held belief that we are the only species with feelings.”

— Shirley Vercruysse, jury member.

Best Short Mountain Film
Sponsored by The North Face | $2,000


(USA, 2014, 16 min) 
Director and Producer: Peter McBride
Production Company: Peter McBride Productions

During an experimental pulse flow in the spring of 2014, filmmaker Peter McBride packed up his stand-up paddle board and headed to the Colorado River Delta to investigate how we use and abuse Western water – and how restoration is possible.

“This film demonstrates how adventure can help expose the choices we make in our daily lives. Through stark images and playfulness, it leads us to ask important questions and shows us the power of a river.”

— Joni Cooper, jury member.

Best Feature-length Mountain Film
Sponsored by Town of Banff | $2,000


(USA, 2014, 88 min), subtitled 
Director: Mark Grieco 
Producer: Stuart Reid 
Production Company: Calle Films 

A peaceful gold-mining town in rural Colombia confronts destruction by a Canadian multinational mining company. Greed, environmental devastation and danger are around every turn. What will it take for the people of Marmato to maintain their pride in the 500-year tradition of mining that has sustained them thus far?

“The challenge of a feature film is to be fascinating from beginning to end. With this film you really feel involved and close to the people. Mixing humour and tenderness the filmmaker illustrates dramatic social impact. This film opens our eyes on a mountain community struggling for its future.”

— Benoît Aymon, jury member.

People's Choice Award
Sponsored by Treksta | $2,000


(USA, 2014, 48 min), some subtitles 
Director: Steve Engman
Producer: John Waller*
Production Company: Uncage the Soul Productions

In 1944, 20-year-old Frank Moore landed on the beaches of Normandy. Now, at the age of 90, he returns with his wife and son to heal the wounds of his past by fly-fishing the streams he once helped free.

This film was selected by the Festival audience.

People's Choice Award — Radical Reels
Sponsored by Deuter | $2,000


(USA, 2014 27 min) 
Director and Producer: Cedar Wright

Cedar Wright and Alex Honnold are back! This time, a month riding their bikes and climbing desert towers in the American Southwest should be a piece of cake for these fast friends. Or will it?

This film was selected by the audience at Radical Reels via the applause-o-metre.

Special Jury Mention

(France, 2012, 53 min), subtitled 
Director: Stanzin Dorjai Gya, Christiane Mordelet 
Producer: Barra Muriel 
Production Company: Lato Sensu Productions 

In 2010, severe rain induced by climate change devastated a remote area of Ladakh. A few years later, Stanzin Dorjai, a local filmmaker, returns to the affected areas to interview people and to talk about how global warming has changed their lives.

“Film is a cultural conversation. Unfortunately not all voices are present at this table. In this film we are treated to a fresh voice that is both honest and original, and deserves to be heard. The filmmaker grapples with intimate personal tragedy as well as vast global change, and through it all remains positive, offering us both pragmatic and philosophical solutions. Remarkably, he even reminds us of the value of filmmaking itself.”

— Nicolas Brown, jury member.