Thirty-five hundred miles, two men, and one boat. James Addair and Ben Stenning attempted the seemingly impossible: to row across the Indian Ocean without a support boat. This was just one of the incredible stories in the film productions featured at the Banff Film Festival World Tour. The Outing Club hosted the event on Friday, Feb. 15 in Zankel, featuring a total of 10 film productions.
It opened with a brief voice-over announcing the mission of the film festival: "...To reveal and protect our amazing planet…” The films then displayed breathtaking views and images of people performing all types of stunts such as flipping, paragliding and purely appreciating the outdoors.
The first film was from Sweet Grass Productions. "Afterglow" captured the sensational feat of skiers in neon suits skiing down all types of Alaskan slopes at crazy speeds. It was all filmed at night and the skiers wore custom-made light emitting diode (LED) suits that contained over 7,000 LEDS. It took nine planes to haul all the equipment to the mountains. One of the skiers commented on how they couldn't even see where they were going because it was so bright. The film truly demonstrates not only the amazing effects of technology through the LED suits and innovative filming experience, but the pure love the skiers have for the mountains and sense of trust they place within the environment and themselves enough to ski down the dangerous slopes practically blind to demonstrate the beauty of them.
The next film was an Uncage the Soul production called "Mending the Line." The film told the story of Frank Moore, a 90-year-old World War II veteran and an exceedingly talented fly fisher. The story shares his journey back to Normandy to return to the rivers he saw as a soldier to fly fish.
The two other films presented were "Happy Winter" and "Touch" which were great and had beautiful aesthetics. But the film featured right before intermission, "And Then We Swam," told the incredible story of James Addair and Ben Stenning. Having never rowed before, it was almost comical at the beginning thinking that these two relatively unexperienced men were going to row 3,500 miles across the Indian Ocean with no back up or support. Following the ups and downs of their travel as their set sail from the west coast of Australia, one could not help but root for them every step of the way as they pressed on despite broken equipment, only being able to listen to the call to prayer on the radio and a huge wave that knocked them both off the boat forcing them to swim three miles to a nearby reef. Experiencing hypothermia and all types of shock and exhaustion, the two almost didn't make it until a rescue boat picked them off the reef. They both discussed the awe and wonderment they now have for the water, environment around them and their lives in general. Addair stated, "It gives us a new focus to life."
The festival concluded with five more film productions all of equal wonder, breathtaking scenery and life changing meanings. The event was an overall success and the Outing Club did an excellent job hosting and facilitating the event.