Woodland Theatre opens its doors to the 41st annual Banff Mountain Film Festival tour

Festival aims to utilize the power of film to raise awareness and interest in mountain culture

More stories from Nicole Bellford

The Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour will kick off at 7 p.m. Dec. 4-6 in Woodland Theatre.


The Banff Mountain Film Festival Tour will kick off at 7 p.m. Dec. 4-6 in Woodland Theatre.

For many, the idea of escaping the hustle and bustle of life’s everyday demands with a mountainscape adventure is a recurring desire. From snow glistened peaks that shine, from every rigid angle of rock to orange cream sunsets that paint the beautifully barren horizon. Such a postcard daydream is one that rarely becomes reality.

The 41st annual Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour will attempt to defy such odds when it takes the stage at UW-Eau Claire’s Woodland Theatre in the coming week.

The festival tour, set to take place at 7 p.m. Dec. 4-6, features a collection of 30 “exhilarating and provocative films that explore life in the mountains,” according to their website. Films range from five minute shorts to 45 minute mountain documentaries.

Banff’s actual film festival took place in Alberta, Canada from Oct. 29 through Nov. 6, featuring 96 films from across the globe. Those 96 films were then narrowed down to the winning works that comprise the films presented in the traveling world tour.

Harry Jol, co-organizer of the event and professor of geography and anthropology, said he considers these films to be the top movies in the world that relate to the beauty of mountain culture.

Jol said he first heard of Banff when he attended the original festival in Alberta during his doctorate program studies. He said he was so intrigued and moved by the film series that he pushed for Eau Claire to be a part of the world tour.

This event is the largest annual event for the Student Office of Sustainability and one of the largest film events in the Midwest. Jol said it also has the potential to open the community’s eyes to aspects and locations of the environment they have not had the chance to experience before.

“There’s a whole world out there,” Jol said. “If we truly want to understand and experience the different perspectives and cultures of the environment and how to preserve it, we have to see it.”

While the festival tour stops typically last only two evenings, Jol said the event’s rising popularity has allowed for Eau Claire extend the tour to three nights.

Preparation and planning among students and faculty begins a year before date of the event and next year’s festival tour is already a project in the works. Jol said finding students and faculty who want to be involved in the event is rarely a challenge.

Ethan Fuhrman, an environmental public health and chemistry student and the festival’s student director, said he decided to become apart of the festival tour in an effort to support a cause he believes in.

“I wanted to be a director to help foster a greater appreciation for the environment among the student body,” Fuhrman said. “It’s my hope that these films will help students and faculty find a different beauty in nature from what they may be used to seeing. “

The event is sponsored by several national companies, such as National Geographic and The North Face, as well as community sponsors including Rice Lake and Glass, Further North LLC., the Student Office of Sustainability and the University Bookstore.

For more information on Banff or the Mountain Film Festival, visit their website.