Mountain film festival comes to Ellsworth, Bangor

Photo courtesy of The Banff Centre

The Banff Mountain Film Festival, the largest mountain film festival in the world, is stopping in Maine in February on its world tour. Those seeking adventure in the depth of winter can enjoy  five screenings of award-winning short films on distant lands, adrenalin-packed outdoor sports and eye-opening cultural and environmental documentaries.

Dates of the show:

  • Friday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth
  • Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth
  • Sunday, Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. at The Grand Theater in Ellsworth
  • Tuesday, Feb. 7 at 7 p.m. at Gracie Theatre in Bangor
  • Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at Gracie Theatre in Bangor

Though the film line-up hasn’t been released, the “World Tour Menu” includes films about two inventive tree climbers traversing a forest canopy over five days; a crew scuba diving beneath the North Pole; photographers in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest; and two top ice climbers as they dodge exploding icicle bombs.

Two Maine outfitters have hosted the Banff festival since the late ‘90s. Cadillac Mountain Sports was the first to bring the tour to Maine, at The Grand in Ellsworth, and a few years later, Epic Sports brought the festival to Bangor.

“For us, it’s about doing something for the community,” said Mia Dupuy, Cadillac Mountain Sports training manager and event coordinator. “It’s kind of our thank you to the community. People enjoy it, and we enjoy hosting it for them.”

“Based on the huge success in Ellsworth, I knew that it would be really popular in this area as well,” said Brad Ryder, owner of Epic Sports.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is held every fall in the beautiful town of Banff, Alberta, nestled in the Rockies, surrounded by Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain, Mount Norquay and Cascade Mountain. The festival then hits the road, with stops planned in about 390 communities and 35 countries across the globe.

From about 300 films entered into the annual festival, only a select line-up of award-winning films and audience favorites are chosen to travel the globe.

In Ellsworth, the shows are split into categories. Friday films are on mountain culture, Saturday films are on mountain sports and Sunday films are “Best of Banff.” In Bangor, the two shows are a mixture of both culture and sport films.

“We don’t intend to duplicate the films between two nights,” said Ryder. “So that should be a help if people want to come to both nights.”

The long screenings, usually two and a half hours of film, are broken up by an intermission, including refreshments and door prizes from the outfitters and show sponsors.

Typically, the shows sell out, so buy your tickets in advance.

Tickets for the Ellsworth screenings are available at Cadillac Mountain Sports in Ellsworth and at The Grand. And tickets for the Bangor screenings are available at Epic Sports in Bangor.

The event seems to be growing in popularity over the years. Three years ago, Cadillac Mountain Sports added a third show to their Banff schedule, and Epic Sports added a second show. Then last year, Epic Sports moved the festival from the Penobscot Theatre to the larger Gracie Theatre to cater to a larger audience.

“Ticket sales this year are really strong,” said Ryder. “So I’m hopeful they will all sell. It’s quite a jump to go from a 300-seat theater to a 500-seat theater.”

The festival world tour is supported by a number of companies known to outdoor enthusiasts. Screenings in Canada and the United States are presented by National Geographic, The North Face and Parks Canada; and sponsored by Deuter, Outdoor Research, PrimaLoft, Central Asia Institute, Tom’s of Maine, and Therma-Rest; with support from MSR, Fernie Alpine Resort, Petzl, Kicking Horse Coffee and World Expedition.

Tickets are $12 per night at both venues, but if you buy tickets for both nights at the Gracie Theatre, tickets are just $10 per night. For information about the festival, visit www.banffmountainfestivals.ca. For tickets and information, contact Epic Sports at 941-5670 or purchase tickets online at www.gracietheartre.com.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

About Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.