Explore your world, one camera lens at a time

Canadian film festival returns to campus, entertains and educates audience

Explore your world, one camera lens at a time

Story by Katy Macek, Currents Editor

A world-renowned film festival that combines entertainment with sustainability is making its way back to UW-Eau Claire next week, thanks in part to the Student Office of Sustainability.

“Think Sundance (Film Festival), but for outdoorsy, environmental documentaries,” Olivia McCarthy, SOS events intern, said.

McCarthy said the Banff Mountain Film Festival is a good way for students to get involved and become more interested in the environment and what sustainability really means.

In addition, they can watch entertaining and thought-provoking films that won awards at the festival’s original location in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

“Not only do they get exposed to films that they otherwise probably wouldn’t get to see at such a low price, but it also makes them more involved,” she said.

SOS director Bailey Kramer said while the festival travels around many different areas of the world, there are several aspects about having it in Eau Claire that make it unique.

“This is a festival that travels worldwide,” she said. “We’re getting it before Madison this year, which is crazy, and we’re one of the only stops where it’s actually stopping for two nights.”

In addition, while she said tickets can be sold from anywhere to $75 for the festival, students can purchase them for just $2.

This is the second year the Banff Mountain Film Festival has been held at the university, and she said this is partly because of the Green Fund from Student Senate, which allocates around $200,000 per year toward sustainability activities and similar events.

The rest of the funding, including the ability to bring in community members, came from Ruffed Grouse Society, an outside organization with a chapter in Eau Claire.

Ruffed Grouse Society formed in 1961 and now has upwards of 20,000 members throughout the nation as well as a sister organization in Canada, Dave Johnson, regional director for the Eau Claire chapter, said.

Johnson attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival several times when it was in Duluth, Minn., he said, and thought it fit into the Ruffed Grouse Society’s ideas about environment. After almost two years of working with community members and finding sponsors, the festival came to State Theatre three years ago.

Tuesday night will feature special guests Josh Pederson, the Eau Claire County Parks and Forest director, and Gary Zimmer, a Ruffed Grouse Society regional biologist, to answer questions and explore options with students and community members.

“If we are fortunate enough to make any profit on this festival, we are working with the Eau Claire County Forestry Department to do some projects with that money,” he said.

In addition, there will be a sign-up sheet at the festival for students who would like to help out with some forestry work with the Parks and Forest Department.

Because he has a step-son, Johnson said he realized most young adults think they have a predetermined path and can get caught up in trying to achieve it without exploring other options.

“It opens people’s perspectives as to what’s possible,” he said. “There are no limits to what people can do, and the film festival explores people pushing those limits.”