Sender Films, Forge Motion Pictures win big at 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival

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Colorado-based filmmakers won four of the top prizes at the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival in Banff, Canada on Sunday, including three awards to the Boulder-based Sender Films crew - all for films featured in the Reel Rock 7 video compilation and film tour - and one to Carbondale-based director Skip Armstrong of Forge Motion Pictures for the third episode of his Of Souls + Water series.

See also: - Level 1 Productions, Stept, MSP clean up at IF3 International Freeski Film Festival - Colorado filmmakers clean up at Chamonix Adventure Festival - Anson Fogel, Colorado filmmakers top 2011 Banff Mountain Film Festival awards

Best Film -- Climbing went to Honnold 3.0, a 33-minute documentary following climber Alex Honnold's solo link-up of the Yosemite Triple (Mt. Watkins, El Capitan, and Half Dome), from directors/producers Peter Mortimer, Josh Lowell, Alex Lowther, and Nick Rosen. "With so many great films, the climbing category was very hard to evaluate," wrote jury member Tommy Heinrich. "Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0 rose above all else with its great imagery, editing, and storytelling. It is gripping, and made our hands sweat, most likely yours too. It is a simple portrait of a young man who keeps breaking unimaginable boundaries over and over."

Best Short Mountain Film went to Paul Diffley and Chris Alstrin's Wide Boyz, a 12-minute excerpt from their feature-length film about British off-width crack climbing specialists Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall. "The Best Short Mountain Film award goes to a film with two of the most charming, talented, tenacious, oddball Brits you're ever going to meet," wrote jury member David Brenner. "Their giddy enthusiasm is infectious, their never-say-die attitude is inspiring, and their training methods are just peculiar."

People's Choice Award -- Rad Reels went to La Dura Dura, from directors/producers Josh Lowell, Brett Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Alex Lowther, and Nick Rosen for their 27-minute documentary following Chris Sharma and Adam Ondra attempts at a 5.15c-rated first ascent in Spain.

And, rounding out the accolades for Colorado-based filmmakers, director Skip Armstrong, of Carbondale-based Forge Motion Pictures, won a $10,000 Dolby Audio Scholarship for his film Of Souls + Water: The Shapeshifter, a six-minute short profiling kayaker Ben Marr. "This film stood out for its unconventional approach to sport film audio," wrote jury member Charlie Robinson. "The voice, sound design, and music interact with imagery to create a surreal interpretation of the power of nature and the thrill of sport." For more on the film, don't miss the September Show + Tell interview with Armstrong.


Best Feature-Length Mountain Film went to director William A. Kerig (a longtime Vail local now based in Salt Lake City) for his documentary on Lindsey Van's 15-year battle to bring women's ski jumping to the Olympic Winter Games; the International Olympic Committee finally relented, and the event will debut in Russia as a medal event at the 2014 Sochi Games. "This was probably the hardest category to judge, but in the end, one film overwhelmed us with its superb storytelling, inspiring characters and -- most importantly -- had the judges cheering at the finish," wrote jury member Kathryn Bonnici. "The filmmakers spent years following this story, the pacing was spot on, and the images simply beautiful."

Crossing The Ice, from Australian director Justin Jones, was the festival's biggest winner, taking the Grand Prize, Best Film -- Exploration and Adventure, and People's Choice Award categories.

Other winners included Nomadic Nights (Best Film -- Mountain Culture) from French director Marianne Chaud, Hell's Miners of Potosi (Best Film -- Mountain Environment) from French director Jean Queyrat, 1st Afghan Ski Challenge (Best Film -- Mountain Sports) from Swiss director Hans-Urs Bachmann, Untamed Americas: Mountains (Best Film -- Mountain Wildlife and Natural History) from National Geographic Television, and Petzl Roctrip China (Banff Centre Award for Creative Excellence) from French director Vladimir Cellier.

Industrial Revolutions (British director Stu Johnson's short featuring trials bike rider Danny MacAskill) and Gone Curling (Kiwi directors Rachael Patching and Roland Kahurangi's film about New Zealand's natural ice curling devotees) each won special jury mentions.

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