Iqaluit gets Banff films
Best of festival focuses on outdoors

Michele LeTourneau
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Feb 21/00) - Every November for the past 24 years, the community of Banff, Alta., explodes with the excitement of the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

After the event, the six hours of films shown at the festival is pared down to two-and-a-half hours, and then hits the road. Or in this case, hits the air, landing in Iqaluit March 18.

"It's a committee of people interested in it that came together and decided to do it," says Heather Gosselin, who, along with Elise Maltin and others, has been busy organizing the event in Iqaluit.

"I'd never heard anything about it until Elise mentioned it to me. She worked in Banff for years and had been involved with the Banff Film Festival before. She thought it would be a good idea to bring it up here."

The films are distributed all over Canada, the United States and the world, to over 150 cities. This is the first year for Iqaluit.

"It's two-and-a-half hours worth (of films). It depends on what films you pick and we haven't done the final picking yet."

Over time, the Banff festival has become the pre-eminent festival on mountaineering matters in the world. The festival, which is actually an international competitive event, brought together 130 films from 25 countries in 1998.

The films come from a variety of sources: successful directors, established producers, famous adventurers, unknown heroes and first-time filmmakers.

From the large selection of film entries, 30 to 40 finalists are chosen. These are then viewed by over 5,000 mountain enthusiasts, film buffs and filmmakers who have converged on the small mountain town.

Interest essentially dictates what films will be shown.

"There are some key features in a film that would be of interest. There's one film about a Russian group going to the North Pole (118 Days in Captivity of Ice). There's one, which won the grand prize -- Vision Man, which is about the Greenlandic Inuit. We'll also be getting sea kayaking in Tasmania. All kinds of different things."

Gosselin adds the final picks are ones the committee feels viewers will find interesting.

"We want a wide variety of things," she says.

"It's something different to bring to the community that they've never seen before."

The Banff Mountain Film Festival plays at the Astro Theatre in Iqaluit March 18. Tickets go on sale March 4 at a booth in the Northern Store.