Colorado filmmakers dominated the 2011 Banff Mountain Film Festival awards over the weekend at the annual competition in Alberta, Canada's Banff National Park, with Carbondale-based director Anson Fogel (Forge Motion Pictures), Basalt-based director Pete McBride (Pete McBride Photography), Greeley-based director Ben Stookesberry (Clear H20 Films), and Boulder-based director Peter Mortimer (Sender Films) taking top prizes.
Fogel won the $4,000 grand prize for his film Cold, which also won Best Film - Climbing and Audio Post-Production Scholarship awards. Cold documents Boulder-based mountain climber Cory Richards' completion of the first successful winter ascent of Gasherbrum II, a 26,362' peak in the Himalayas, with climbers Simone Moro and Dennis Urubko in February 2011, when the group suffered through temperatures reaching -51 degrees.
The film -- which is currently screening as part of the 2011 Reel Rock Film Tour, the Mountainfilm World Tour, and now the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour -- also won Best Action Film at the 2011 Adventure Film Festival in Boulder this weekend.
"It was a pretty crazy weekend," says Fogel. "I still haven't digested it! I ended up going up on the stage at Banff four times, and I was really surprised that a short, dark, experimental, R-rated film would win the grand prize, but I guess the jury was sending a signal that they wanted something different. It's encouraging for everybody: For me and also for other filmmakers who are doing things a little differently with a different style and perspective."
Fogel says it's not just a coincidence that so many Colorado filmmakers were represented at the awards ceremony in Banff.
"There's a real community building here of people who share friendship, ideas, techniques, and even tools -- we borrow each other's cameras! -- and there's a family emerging in Colorado of younger, newer filmmakers who are bringing a fresh perspective to everything. All the recognition for these films is really a recognition for a new way of doing things. We don't have huge teams and we don't have millions of dollars, so to see these films being recognized and reaching new audiences through these festival tours -- there are something like 1,100 stops on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour -- is a win for everybody in this filmmaking community."
Fogel also worked as editor on photographer/director Pete McBride's film Chasing Water: The companion film to McBride's book The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict won Best Short - Mountain Film at Banff.
"This is my first real film so it's a bit of a new direction for me," McBride says. "I initially made a promo video for the book and then started to realize there was a little more there, but, frankly, I would have never anticipated it would do as well as it has. It's a short film to create some awareness about the local river here, the Colorado River, and I'm just delighted to see it reaching folks well beyond the Roaring Forks Basin."
McBride grew up on his family's ranch, using water from the river, but says before starting this project he had no idea of just how many straws were sucking from it.
"The Colorado River's a pretty good example of what happens when you ask too much of a limited resource," he says. "Most people think that rivers should run to the sea, but not a drop of the Colorado reaches the sea anymore, and hasn't since 1998. As I was working on it I thought of this as sort of a little film, an afterthought to my book, but it's really cool to see a film about a river and water conservation be honored and find a receptive audience. There are a lot of good organizations working to restore this river, and I hope the response to this film can be of some help in that."
Chasing Water will air on Rocky Mountain PBS at 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 13.
Other Colorado filmmakers honored at the Banff Mountain Festival over the weekend include:
Ben Stookesberry, a kayaker from Greeley whose film Kadoma won Best Film - Mountain and Adventure.
Peter Mortimer, a Boulder-based climber who won the People's Choice - Radical Reels award for REEL ROCK: Race for the Nose, a documentary about Dean Potter and Sean Leary's attempt to break the speed climbing record on the Nose route of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
For a look at other winners from the 2011 Banff Mountain Film Festival, visit www.BanffCentre.ca.