Last night, I attended the annual Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which has been visiting Bangor for the past 18 years, thanks to Epic Sports. I didn’t plan on writing about it, but I saw an incredible film that I’d like to share with you.
If you haven’t heard of the Banff Mountain Film Festival, here’s how it works: Hundreds of people from around the world submit independent films to The Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, each year. The films range in topic, but basically, it all comes back to outdoor adventure — wildlife, mountain culture, extreme sports, etc. A pre-selection committee narrows down more than 350 entries to approximately 70 finalists, and those films are viewed by an international film jury and shown to the public during the nine-day Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival in November. Then, approximately 30 of those films — the cream of the crop — are sent on a world tour.
The world tour travels across Canada, the United States, and internationally from Scotland to South Africa to China, Lebanon, Chile, New Zealand, Antarctica, and points in between. Each year, the films travel to 40 countries reaching more than 390,000 people at over 840 screenings.
When the tour came to Bangor this year — Feb. 4 and 5 — I was excited to see this year’s selection of films. I only attended the Feb. 5 screening, which comprised of nine films, a combination of mountain adventure, culture, wildlife and sports.
Now to the highlight of the night (for me anyway) — “North of the Sun,” a 46-minute documentary that won not only won this year’s People’s Choice Award and Dolby Audio Award (a $10,000 value), but was the festivals Grand Prize Winner. And for good reason!
“North of the Sun” (or “Nord For Sola” in Norwegian) is about two young men from Norway who decided to spend the winter surfing at a secret location on a remote, arctic island. To stay warm, Inge Wegge (25 years old) and Jørn Ranum (22) arrive before winter and build a hobbit-like shelter out of debris they find on the beach. Then, for nine months, they not only survive in this incredibly harsh environment, they play — a lot. They surf, snowboard and paraglide. In addition, they take on the task of cleaning the beach of the insane amount of trash that’s built up over the years. But perhaps best of all, the two men have great personalities and their daily exchanges are often pretty hilarious, even in the most stressful situations.
The annual Banff film tour is always filled with amazing new films, but “North of the Sun” will stick with me more than any film I’ve seen so far. I think it’s a combination of things — the spirit of adventure, the camerawork, the beautifully wild location, the characters and the spice of candid humor. The fact that they filmed the experience themselves also appeals to me (as someone who often films her own, much smaller outdoor adventures).
I could keep going on about it, but you should really see it for yourself. Here’s the trailer:
If you’re interested in seeing the whole film (obviously I think you aught to), you can rent it or purchase it on vimeo here.