A change in the seasons is around the corner, marking a shift in the way many experience the great outdoors. Whether the weather moves us from inside to outside, across the globe, or just changes our mode of exploration, natural cycles get and keep us moving.
“It’s inspiring to see cool people getting out there and doing awesome (things) even though the world is going (through so much),” mountain biker Jesse Sugar said.
That’s what he looks forward to in the return of the Banff Mountain Film Festival this year. Monday, March 13, and Tuesday, March 14, mark the 14th year in a row the world-famous film festival will reach Moab residents in their own backyard.
“The films focus on people being outdoors,” Sugar said. “It’s a focus on culture, but it’s a world culture … it’s a team human culture.”
Tickets per night are $10 in advance, or $15 at the door at the Grand County High School Auditorium, 608 S. 400 East. Tickets can be purchased in advance at Back of Beyond Books, Canyon Voyages Adventure Co., Pagan Mountaineering and Poison Spider Bikes.
Funds raised will go to two regional nonprofit organizations: Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation and the Utah Avalanche Center-Moab (UAC-Moab).
A total of 18 films spans the two nights.
In “Ace & the Desert Dog,” adventure photographer Ace Kvale and his dog, Genghis Khan, set out on a 60-day trek in Utah’s canyon country to celebrate Kvale’s 60th birthday.
In another movie with regional connections, “bikepacker” and ultra-long-distance racer Lael Wilcox takes on a challenge unlike any other by following more than 1,280 kilometers of the Arizona Trail’s desert single-track in the film “Fast Forward.”
On the other side of the globe, “Northbound” follows four skaters who head north above the Arctic Circle to the cold Norwegian coast to apply their urban riding skills to a canvas of beach flotsam, frozen sand and pastel skies. The result is a beautiful mashup of biting winds, ollies and one ephemeral miniramp, according to a film festival press release.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival has been on tour across the world for over 30 years, bringing an eclectic variety of travel and adventure films to large cities and communities like Moab, which it reached in 2004.
The local screenings are organized by Castle Valley Mayor Dave Erley.
“It gets really rockin’ in there,” Erley said.
Erley has been involved with Banff Mountain for many years, but took the contract over three years ago to keep festival-raised funds local.
“My life can be pretty hectic,” Erley said. “I like to work with the Banff people because they are incredibly organized and they understand the Moab audience. Their notes are quite amazing.”
Erley said he likes to keep the event simple, promoting it on Facebook and accepting cash only.
“I don’t make any money, it’s just my goodwill for the community,” he said. “That’s how I approach it and how I’ll continue to approach it.”
Second Chance Wildlife Rehabilitation is a wildlife rehabilitation center based in Price. Under the direction of Debbie Pappas, the center rehabilitates a variety of wildlife across southeastern and south-central Utah. Second Chance is responsible for releasing the golden eagles in Dead Horse Point State Park – a spotlighted event in the community.
Pappas is currently building a new facility with a 100-foot “fly” to better rehabilitate raptors, in which the center specializes.
“My wife had been working with (Second Chance Rehabilitation) and there is absolutely no frills,” Erley said. “They do what they do from the love in their hearts. They needed help, so we did what we could do to help.”
The Utah Avalanche Center-Moab (UAC-Moab) is the local branch of the Utah Avalanche Center. It works with the U.S. Forest Service to provide snow depth recording, critical mountain weather and avalanche forecasting for the La Sal and Abajo Mountains.
Erley, who used to ski in the backcountry, strongly believes in the importance of having a reliable weather station.
“I’m trying to use (the outside money from) tourists who come to (the film festival) to subsidize winter sports for locals,” he said. “But I think having a local weather station is really important no matter who you are because it keeps track of the snowpack and the water levels … and that’s stuff we really need to be focused on around here.”
March 13-14 festival supports area nonprofits
What: Banff Mountain Film Festival
When: Monday, March 13, and Tuesday, March 14; doors open at 6:15 p.m., and films begin at 7 p.m. Different films will be shown each night.
Where: Grand County High School Auditorium, 608 S. 400 East
Cost: $10 in advance, or $15 at the door; cash only – no checks or credit cards will be accepted