Banff to Boise 

Extreme sports featured in annual film fest

If you've been on Bogus Basin's Nordic trails at night, you have the Boise Nordic Foundation to thank for the lights.

Last year, the foundation tapped into its bank account to erect solar-powered trail lights on another 1.5 kilometers, bringing the total to 6.2 kilometers, says festival chair Dave Fotsch. BNF also donated funds to help improve lights along the Nordic highway and put some money into the coffers of the resort's junior Nordic team. The foundation might like to find a pot of gold hidden deep beneath a mound of powder in a tree well to replenish its depleted funds, but lucky for Boise, there's still no gold. Instead, the foundation relies annually on a little financial help from the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour.

This year marks a full dozen years for the film tour in Boise, which boasts one of the largest stops on the tour's 275-city schedule in which almost 20 films about all things outdoor hit the Egyptian Theatre's silver screen. From extreme unicycling (that's right, extreme on one wheel) to the relatively new kid on the block, snowkiting, Banff's stop in Boise is a three-night run next week with a different line up each night. Here's what you can expect.

Sun., Feb. 3, 7 p.m.

The night starts out with Entropy, a short about a sport that's just beginning to show up in Idaho—snowkiting. Think wind surfing meets snowboarding, much like the kitesurfers in warmer ocean climes. Fotsch, who's organized and facilitated Banff's Boise stop for 12 years, says if there were a theme for this year's festival, it would be climbing. Higher Ground: Mountain Photographer is this year's first climbing film on the docket. It's a quick eight-minute crash course on what drives professional photographer Andrew Querner to shoot the perfect climbing photo. The evening's feature, 20 Seconds of Joy, has the honor of being Banff's "Best Film on Mountain Sport" and won the people's choice award. Filmmaker Jens Hoffman follows professional BASE jumper Karina Hollekim through her career until its abrupt end. Things take a human interest bent with Wings on Your Feet, and the night ends with Badgered (awarded "Best Film on a Mountain Environment") about—predictably—a badger, and Ain't Got No Friends on a Powder Day, the five-minute introduction to a para-skier whose daring takes him through the same powder and down the same jumps as his free-riding compatriots.

Mon., Feb. 4, 7 p.m.

Monday starts off with two shorts of similar name but completely different in focus. Balance peeks into the insanity that can be the new school of skiing, be it jibbing or the half-pipe, while Inner Balance slims it down to a single wheel. Fotsch, who is a unicyclist himself, makes special note of Inner Balance, saying he watched the film with his mouth agape as a wacky group of unicyclists took on terrain and drops usually attempted only by mountain bikers with the safety of two wheels. The evening's feature, Searching for Coast Wolves, follows former world champion cross-country skier Gudrun Pflueger as she searches throughout British Columbia for a pack of wolves that's rumored to have never had contact with humans. In La Ventana, a group of determined Venezuelan climbers wait out the fickle weather at Patagonia's elusive Cerro Torre in hopes of climbing the magnificent peak. Fotsch says that In Flux may be the only boating film this year, but it's a "can't miss" for Idaho river enthusiasts. In-Flux was filmed in Italy, Canada, Norway and the Reunion Islands, globetrotting and in search of that "je ne sais quoi" kayakers only find in a river. Great Day for Climbing is a quirky, quick little film weaving between reality and the dream world, and the night ends with a film unique to the Boise stop on Banff's tour. Godspeed, Robert Sloan was the result of i48's team NIMBY last year, and although the short is not actually part of the world tour, Fotsch says he sweet-talked the Banff Centre into letting him screen it in Boise. Featuring several of the Boise Nordic Foundation's board, the film is a quick 6 minutes following a young adventurer who scales a local landmark in his attempt to emulate his late father.

Tues., Feb. 5, 7 p.m.

A segment from King Lines called King Lines: Es Pontas, about Chris Sharma's ascent of the Es Pontas Arch in Mallorca, Spain, starts off the night. It's too bad we'll only see 13 minutes of the film because it's rumored to be spectacular documentation of Sharma's ascent up the 60-foot wall (during which he fell more than 100 times from heights up to 50 feet to accomplish the feat). Trial and Error, about mountain biker Ryan Leech who bikes a very difficult trail through a forest slated for clear-cutting, won a people's choice award as well. The Endless Knot is the night's feature film and perhaps one of the festival's most emotional stories about a couple whose love emerges from tragedy and who, together, search for meaning through a mountaineering school for sherpas in the Tibetan Himalayas. Will Gadd, whom Fotsch calls a festival favorite, returns to Banff again this year (you may remember him from last year's ice climbing on ice bergs or para-gliding over the Grand Canyon) in Ice Mines, in which he and a friend explore abandoned mines deep underground in Sweden, looking for ice climbing. Clocking in at only 2 minutes, is the animated short-short Climber, and the whole shebang ends with Cross-Country With the Snakes, a film about a Nordic-skiing punk band. Rock on.

Each night of the Banff Mountain Film Festival starts at 7 p.m., doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 day of the show, $12 for students and seniors, and $40 for all three nights, and are available at IdahoTickets.com, 208-426-1494. For more information on the films, visit BanffCentre.ca. Egyptian Theatre, 700 W. Main St., 208-345-0454, EgyptianTheatre.net.

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