The Heart of Mountain film

By Mike Leung

"I realized I was capable of meeting myself on the highest of mountains head-on. In the mountains, I just escape."

For those attending this year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival last weekend, Slovenian climber Tomaz Humar’s words echo a sentiment many of us share towards mountain places. For the famous climber, the separation from family and the loss of close friends doesn’t change the fact that the mountains serve as his church, his place of his worship and his salvation.

"When I’m up there, I’m just with Him," he says, gingerly gesturing towards the ceiling with an extended finger.

In short, the rest of the festival was full of realizations, discoveries and people like Humar. It was a place to trade stories. Each year, festival organizers showcase films from around the world and from a variety of sources.

This year, they ranged from independently produced films like Sean White’s Unizaba, to professionally produced environmental documentaries like the BBC’s Grizzly: Face to Face. Films like Mustang tell the story of faraway cultures and peoples on the Tibetan plateau; other films like Carrying the Burden describe the impact of adventure trekking industries on the people of developing countries like Nepal. While it is completely impossible to summarize everything, many of the films deserve mention.

What follows are only two samples of the event’s highlights. The festival will now head out on a world tour and has dates in Calgary early next year.

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