Published by Jeremy. Last Updated on June 15, 2021.
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The Banff Mountain Film Festival is not unique to Pittsburgh. In fact, it is not even unique to the midwest or even the United States.
This film festival originates from the tiny mountain town of Banff just outside of Calgary, Canada. Aside from being a town in its own right, this part of the world is also a great spot to get out and experience all things nature.
To capitalize on this, the city has created a film festival that showcases some of the world's best videos of adventure sports and other associated topics. The main festival takes place in Banff each fall, and after that the best videos go on a world tour with an annual stop in Pittsburgh.
As adventure lovers ourselves, we've been attending this event for many years. Today, we wanted to share the experience of what the festival is like to help encourage you to get out to the next one!
Adventure Sports to the Extreme
Calling the activities featured in the Banff Mountain Film Festival adventure sports would be doing them a disservice.
In my opinion, adventure sports are something I could go out and do right now with little to know training beyond help from a knowledgeable guide. Ziplining? Yep, we have that at Go Ape North Park. White water rafting? Sure, we can do that in Ohiopyle. Paragliding? I'm in. Scuba diving? Okay, that one takes a bit more training but is still relatively easy to do.
The people who make videos for Banff, on the other hand, go one step further into the extreme.
We're taking videos of kayakers tackling up to 100 ft waterfalls in Iceland. A gang of “pirates” taking a fiberglass boat down to Antarctica just to kill some termites on board (and because they can). Mountain bike tricks that are choreographed so well that you'd think they were fake. And even a few conservation videos thrown in too (with an adventure element, of course). Some are short films just a few minutes long, and a few feature length films of 20 – 30 minutes will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.
You never know what you're going to get at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, which makes the two day annual event all the more fun.
2017s videos, summarized above, were a bit more subdued from previous years, but still packed quite the punch. There was no free climbing of Half Dome (yes the whole thing without gear, watch a short clip here) or base jumping into tiny sinkholes in China (relatively speaking) like we saw in previous years, but that's more than okay.
The purpose of the show is to inspire and awe, and when the audience goes nuts here, they really do with shocks, gasps, and exclamations of “I want to do that” being common during just about every video.
Of course, we as arm chair viewers may not take it to that level of extreme, but if you are the kind of person who gets inspired by the extreme and loves the great outdoors, well, Pittsburgh, you've found your tribe here.
The Banff Mountain Film Festival makes its way to Pittsburgh every spring and is often hosted at the Byham via Venture Outdoors. This show sells out in advance so get your tickets early. Movies screened vary on Saturday and Sunday. We'll see you there.
For more things to do in Pittsburgh in April, click the previous link for our recommendations!
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