Though you probably know Banff for its epic mountains, picturesque backdrop, and friendly residents, it’s also become a world-renowned destination for one very big event: the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival. Each Fall some of the greatest adventure story-tellers across the globe flock to this tiny area of Alberta, bringing new ground-breaking expeditions, documentaries, and stories to be shared amongst the world’s best. As a partner of this event, we’re counting down the days until it debuts on October 29th!

We were fortunate enough to speak with Christie Pashby, the Film Coordinator of the Festival, to get the inside scoop on what her enviable role entails, as well as what it takes to bring this annual event to life each year.

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Tell us about your role at the Banff Mountain Fest.

I’ve worked at the Festival for the past seven years, and spend each winter sourcing potential films for the festival. I also coordinate all of the volunteer prescreeners and filmmakers — which can be challenging when they travel from all corners the globe. With my colleagues, I also help build the film program with help from my team and the volunteers.

How do you decide which films will be featured in the festival?

Between May and August of this year, we had over 325 films entered. From there, we arrange for each of these films to be screened by at least six people. These “pre-screeners” are volunteers and some have spent more than 75 hours over the summer watching films. When September rolls around, we ask everyone for their feedback and design the film program based off of their reviews. From there, we select the finalists. This year we have 96 finalists from 20 countries, and we’re thrilled that about two-thirds almost all of them will be coming to the festival to introduce their films.

Are there many Canadian filmmakers that are part of the festival?

Yes! Each year it seems like we have more and more entries from Canadian filmmakers. This year, about one-third are Canadian, and often they’re showcasing more than one film.

So what makes a film stand out and make the cut?

First and foremost, they have to have a good story. It needs to touch people, and show us something that hasn’t been seen before. Often the films that are chosen are about adventure and exploration, as well as have an element of action and adrenaline. Whenever there is outstanding mountaineering or kayaking, for example, it adds validity to film. Out of the 96 films, only 3 are chosen for the finals.  

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What types of audiences does the Festival attract?

Everyone! It really is quite diverse. There are multiple generations who spend the entire weekend viewing films as well as locals who pick one or two to watch. In fact, almost every screening is already sold out! We’re finding each year we run out of tickets. However, for those who haven’t purchased tickets yet there are still some available at the Lux Theater.

If someone can’t make it to the festival, can they still view the films?

Following the Festival in Banff we commence the World Tour, which hits the road bringing some of the audience favourites and special tour edits to 54 countries around the world. There are hundreds and hundreds of dates in the Canada and the US, just visit our website for more details.

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Want to learn more? Be sure to follow Lake O’Hara Lodge on Facebook and Twitter as we cover the Festival from October 29th to November 6th!