Field and screen

Field and screen

Scaling mountains, surfing arctic waters and tearing up indoor ski slopes might seem daunting to the average midwesterner, but the international Banff Mountain Film Festival gave folks a glimpse Nov. 18 and 19 in Woodland Theatre in Davies Center.

The film fest travels to countries on all seven continents, and UW-Eau Claire was one of its first stops.

Geography professor Harry Jol met with Dave Johnson of the Ruffed Grouse Society during last year’s festival at the State Theatre in
downtown Eau Claire.

Jol said he suggested the film fest become a university event because of student interest in the environment.

While it may seem hard to identify with some of the international films, Jol said one of the films recognizes a topic directly relevant to
Eau Claire.

“We have people in Eau Claire who are on the national ski jumping team and one of the films talks about women getting into the sport,” Jol said. “Eau Claire has served as a major venue for the ski jumping scene and they’ll be recognized in the

Jol said he has followed the Canadian festival since its beginnings 38 years ago, and said the films are relevant to anyone who’s willing to take a step outdoors.

“Having gone to the original film festival, I know it was the ticket to get because of its international perspective,” Jol said. “We need to understand that there is a whole world out there for us to explore.”

Sharing the adventures of the entrants is made possible by a touring staff the Banff Center refers to as “Road Warriors”.

Kristi Beetch is among that group, and selects films tailored to the demographic interests of each destination.

“It just seems like every year that filmmakers are highlighting extreme sports as well as cultures that many of us wouldn’t even be aware of if these films didn’t happen,” Beetch said. “What I enjoy most is seeing the audience’s reactions to these amazing, humbling things.”

Geography major Joey Quintana, said he had a field day branching out beyond the familiar sights of the Chippewa Valley with Beetch’s

Quintana said because he’s attended other mountain film festivals in the past, he was quick to capitalize on this opportunity.

“It just kind of speaks to human environment interaction and how humans can interact with nature,” Quintana said. “Our perception of nature can be limited to just taking a hike in the midwest so maybe this gives us a broader perspective.”

Jol said he hopes to continue the tradition of hosting the festival in Davies in the future. Along with previous winners, 2013’s grand prize-winning entry, “North of the Sun” can be viewed on the Banff Center’s website.

“I think sometimes in our everyday lives we become a bit insular and closed in,” Beetch said. “When you see things in other areas of the world it might inspire you to do something you’d never thought of.”