Celebrating the Outdoor Lifestyle

By Beacon Staff

Pip Hunt tried the city life. “It really didn’t last that long,” the 25-year-old professional freeskier says, laughing. “I need to be outside. I need to have that relationship with my environment and with the mountains and share in that with other people.”

This adventurous spirit is embraced and celebrated by two upcoming annual events, the Whitefish Mountain Films festival, which Hunt is helping organize, and the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Kalispell.

Both gatherings feature diverse lineups of documentary and extreme sports films that inspire and entrance by capturing with lavish cinematography the awe of outdoor exploration, from skiing, mountaineering and beyond.

Whitefish Mountain Films is a two-day event this year, Nov. 9-10. The festival kicks off Friday night at 7 p.m. at the Bierstube at Whitefish Mountain Resort with a feature presentation guaranteed to whet the appetites of skiers and snowboarders anxious for the ski season. Matchstick Productions will present “Superheroes of Stoke,” a ski film detailing the history of freeskiing and showcasing some of the latest generation’s talents in backcountry powder.

The following day the main Whitefish Mountain Films festival will be held at the O’Shaughnessy Center in downtown Whitefish beginning at 5 p.m. Last week Hunt was still helping arrange the entries, which range in topic from skiing to hiking to kayaking. One of the main presentations on the docket is Level 1’s Sunny, an action-packed freeskiing feature filmed in powder stashes around the world, including Switzerland, Austria and Japan. Hunt said the rest of the films would also showcase mountaineering treks, and other year-round activities common in the outdoor culture.

“I really like how (outdoor film festivals) bring communities together to celebrate being in the mountains,” says Hunt, who lives in Jackson, Wyo., but often visits Whitefish where her mother lives. “It’s a very unique lifestyle that we choose to live.”

Event organizers are asking for a $5 donation and all proceeds will support the Whitefish Trail project.

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is one of the oldest outdoor documentary festivals in North America, dating back 37 years. The world-renowned festival returns to Kalispell for the 22nd year in a row, Nov. 12-13. Seven different outdoor films will be presented on both Monday and Tuesday night inside Flathead High School’s auditorium. The events begin at 7 p.m.

Like Whitefish’s festival, Banff’s screenings were still being decided in the days leading up to the event but will showcase an array of outdoor activities. Tickets cost $14 and proceeds benefit the Flathead Nordic Backcountry Patrol, the local nonprofit organization of volunteers trained to respond to winter emergencies.

Image from the film “Crossing the Ice,” taken by James Castrisson. Courtesy of banff mountain film festival

This year’s Banff festival is dedicated to Mark Johnson of Kalispell who passed away from cancer in May. Johnson was a longtime member of the Nordic patrol and was involved in the film festival every year.

“He was real active in the patrol and over the years was an instructor and trainer for mountaineering and avalanche preparedness and all kinds of programs that we run through our patrol,” said Steve Burgland, who helped found the backcountry ski patrol.

“He’s missed.”

For the latest information about the Banff Mountain Film Festival lineup, visit www.banffmountainfestival.ca. For the latest information about the Whitefish Mountain Films festival, visit the event’s Facebook page.

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