As far as film festivals go, Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is hugely popular in Powell River, as it celebrates the outdoors, mountain culture, sports and the environment. Powell River is all of that.
According to Jim Palm, now in his 11th year organizing and curating the two-day event, when it hits town in January 2017 all 400 seats in Max Cameron Theatre will be filled.
“We want to get the word out because last year I sold out my tickets for the public before the end of December,” said Palm.
Films selected for the tour are about all things outdoors. To choose the best films for Powell River, one of approximately 300 communities around the world the festival visits, Palm said he works with the festival committee and other communities on the tour.
One reason the festival sells out every year is because people want to be in those videos, said Graham Cocksedge, an endurance athlete and teacher at Brooks Secondary School.
“Everybody flocks to these videos because they secretly envy, admire and aspire to be those kinds of people but, of course, real life gets in the way and you can’t,” said Cocksedge, who recently placed second at the Canadian Cross Country Championships in the masters division. “That’s why it’s a sellout every year.”
Palm, who is a counsellor at Brooks Secondary School, said the two nights are a fundraiser for youth in need.
“Some of the students we’ve seen over the last 10 years since we’ve been running our trades program are really up against it,” he said. “For example, this year a couple of students are working part-time, in a program full-time, and struggling to make ends meet. They’re making $600 a month, they do not have parental support and they’re paying $500 in terms of rent and food, which gives them very little to live on.”
According to Palm, the festival assists those students, as well as the overall student body at Brooks.
“We’ve purchased snowshoes, kayaks, canoes, bikes and a wide range of outdoor equipment,” he said, adding that one or two sets of Brooks Thunderbirds team uniforms are also purchased each year.
For the first time this year Palm has upped the ticket price by $5 to $25 dollars. The increase is to cover escalating costs for screenings of the films, complimentary food and refreshments and the appearance of a guest host.
This year’s host, adventurer and Banff National Park media specialist Ray Schmidt, is a longtime friend of Cocksedge; they first met in 1994.
“He is of the adventuresome spirit,” said Cocksedge. “He’s the real deal.”
Cocksedge said Powell River is becoming what Banff Mountain Film Festival videos are about.
“Powell River is a place where these videos should be coming from,” he said. “It’s definitely a place that could be creating them.”
Palm said he agrees that Powell River, with its climbing, water sports, hiking and trail running, is ideal for an outdoor adventure film, but it comes down to cost.
“I have approached council and our Powell River Community Forest about the possibility of supplying some funds to have one made, and it would make for a great story, but so far I haven’t been able to convince the powers that be to do that,” said Palm.
Tickets are available at Taws, River City Coffee and Pacific Point Market. Banff Mountain Film Festival takes place January 6 and 7 at Max Cameron Theatre.