I continue to be astounded by the way the world comes to our neck of the woods in Vermont and New Hampshire.  The mountains surrounding our bed and breakfast in Cavendish are known for their impressive hiking, biking and skiing, but they are also constantly celebrated through art.  I realized this last night, as the tour of the Banff Mountain Film Festival passed through Southwestern New Hampshire.  Though it was a bit of a hike to get to Lebanon, NH from the Ludlow and Okemo area, it was completely worthwhile to experience the moutain film of a lifetime.  Well, really, it was many films of a life-time, and they were only a microscopic snapshot of the entire collection shown at the original Banff Film Festival back in October of 2013.  Though the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Whites of New Hampshire are small in size compared to the Himalayas, the tapuis of South America, and the cliffs of Morocco, this was the perfect setting in which to watch mountain-themed films.  The culture of our area is shaped by the mountains just as the mountains and hills have been shaped by time.  Though every range and peak has its own character, people who love the mountains have a deep passion in common.  It was that passion that every theater-goer that night shared as we watched with eyes wide at the dramatic scenes before us.

Below are brief accounts and review of a sampling of mountain films showed in the Lebanon Opera House this past Friday.  Check out the United States Tour to see if the film festival is coming your way in the future…it may just stoke your passion to gain elevation!

  • The first half of the evening’s feature film was Ready to Fly, a documentary profiling the fight to end discrimination against women in the Olympics.  Lindsey Van, a woman ski jumper who can jump farther than most men, led the fight by suing the International Olympic Committee.  If you’ve been following the Olympic Games News for the Sochi Winter Games of 2014, you’ll already know the ending to the story (it’s a happy one with victory for ladies!) but this film is absolutely stunning and will make you think about equality in sports today.
  • A short film called Cascada showed impressive imagery and cinematography.  Kayakers journey to Mexico to tackle waterfalls, but reflect upon their experience with people and wilderness in the process.  The shots are absolutely gorgeous!

  • My favorite piece was The Burn, simply because it did not try to impress…because it did not have to.  The entire mountain film was simply two skiers pounding powder in the back country that had burned down in a wildfire the day before a snowstorm.  Not only was the landscape desolately captivating, but the trees were still glowing with embers from the fire before. Sparks flew off from under the skiers when their skis sank through the powder and hit still-burning wood, red embers reflecting off of ice and snow.

  • Two 20-minute films were shown in the second half.  One, Keeper of the Mountains, told the story of an old woman named Elizabeth Hawley, who has kept records her entire life of the ascents of Mount Everest.  She knows every traverse, camp, and crevasse, but has never and will never climb the mountain herself.  Another impressive lady was profiled in Spice Girl, the story of perhaps the best female trad (traditional) climber of her age.  Her name is Hazel Finlay, and she was the first girl to trad climb an E9 (that’s a very hard thing to do!).  As you watch her make ascents, your palms sweating, she speaks about the experience, saying “It’s a bit scary.”  Amazing.  The first half shows her conquering rock walls with her dad, and the second half chronicles her adventure to Morocco to climb a 12-pitch wall that took from before dawn to far after dark.

Visit Vermont not just for the mountains, but also for the amazing creative work they inspire and celebrate from across the world!