Photographed by: A. Arthur Fisher

Upon entering the Arlington Theatre, you won’t just see gritty carabiners, quilted Patagonia vests, and sharply-designed sustainable water bottles. There is much more to the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour than these.

There are blues-singing dogs, drum-playing free fallers, vodka-filled ski poles, and Go-Pro footage that makes you want to run for Dramamine.

Every year, since 1986, Banff has lit-up film enthusiasts’ expectations for adventure with the best of the best adventure films. There are no actors. Only incredible and hero-ing tales of the many courageous people featured in the films. Skiing, base jumping, fishing, rock climbing, snowboarding, sailing, canicross, skijor, and many more adventure sports are richly infused in the incredible films chosen by the Banff World Tour team.

This year, as part of a two-night tour, Banff wowed with a total of fifteen films. Night one included, “Max Your Days,” “Iran: A Skier’s Journey,” “Ace and the Desert Dog,” “Doing it Scared,” “Four Mums in a Boat,” “The Great Siberian Traverse,” “SHIFT,” and “Danny MacAskill’s Wee Day Out.” In the film, “Doing it Scared,” Paul, a skilled climber, was ascending the Totem Pole, an infamous tower of rock in Tanzania, when a monstrous rock fell on him leaving him partially paralyzed. Eighteen years after this dangerous climb, Paul is motivated to do it again. And with his wife and best friend in tow, he succeeds.

When four mothers in their mid-forties find themselves feeling less than motivated in their daily lives, they decide to row across the Atlantic Ocean in a boat no bigger than ones’ living room in “Mums on a Boat.” Having never rowed a boat in their lives, they set a goal, and with the blessing and support of their families, they not only rowed that boat for sixty-seven days straight, they made it across the entire Atlantic Ocean. Their three-thousand-mile voyage earned them the Guinness World Record holders as the oldest all-female crew to row across any ocean. “Mums on a Boat,” and “Doing it Scared,” alongside the other films from night one at the Banff film festival, reminds us how valuable it is to test ourselves and our limits. Every film also brings home the value of teamwork to allow for any unique adventure to come true.

Night two brought new energy and exhilaration with “DreamRide,” “Poumaka,” “Sea-Gypsies: The Far Side of the World,” “Ruin and Rose,” “The Super Salmon,” “Dog Power” and “Metronomic.” Each film, unique on their own, did share one common theme: to celebrate the complete and full sense of living. “There is an element of freedom of choice when adventuring like this,” shared one skier in the short film, “Iran: A Skier’s Journey.”

As it happened, the film festival coincided with Dr. Seuss’ birthday, and while attending the second night of the Banff film festival, “Oh, The Places You Will Go” paired perfectly with the stunning and visually breathtaking landscapes presented. The films toured remote places in Iran, Antarctica, England, Alaska, France, New Zealand, Patagonia, French Polynesia, Russia, and incredible backcountry in Utah and Canada. They boasted of fresh powder beyond imagination, billowing waves well above any sailor’s comfort zone, and unthinkably long hours spent in darkness for climbers in the depths of jungles. If you already had a bucket list prior to seeing this year’s featured films, your bucket is now overflowing with places that will make you fall asleep smiling as you imagine the incredible vistas you too could experience.

There is no lack of amazement in any of the films. These are the kind of characters that get after their dreams no matter the bitter challenges and perils that are part of the journey. These films, “Like the hippos of Fantasia,” shared the drum-playing aerialist in “Metronomic,” “are total wowsers!”

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