Often it’s the people (or animals) of a film that are the star attraction. Not the filmmaker.
But without filmmakers there would be no film.
After watching one of the two night of the Banff Film Festival at Chico State University last weekend, I was left wanting to know more about the filmmakers. I would love to have had the opportunity to listen to them speak about their craft, about how technology has evolved, about the editing process, about the storytelling.
Unfortunately, that’s not what you get with the traveling film fest. Those, the Banff one included, are all about watching the films. And they were great, don’t get me wrong.
To get the full experience I am going to have to travel to an actual festival, be it Banff, Sundance, or Cannes to name a few of the better known locations. At the actual festival filmmakers and sometimes actors give talks, there could be Q&A sessions and so much more besides movies.
What I liked about the Banff movies was the variety.
Joanna Croston, director of the festival and world tour, wrote on the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity website: “The film competition, this year, saw record numbers of submissions, and the quality of storytelling and production reached an all-time high. Filmmakers have shown us that they have transformed too. They are spending more time with their craft, dealing with challenging subject matter differently, and they have decided that the voices of underrepresented communities need to be heard. This year’s program amplifies a new world, rich with alternate narratives and viewpoints.”
Three films in particular touched me the most, in large part because they focused on women. The first was The Fastest Girl in the Village. Khothalang Leuta of Lesotho (a small country surrounded by South Africa) taught herself how to ride a bike on the pump track that was built in her village in 2017 as part of the Pump for Peace Project. She didn’t even own a bike.
She competed in the 2021 Red Bull UCI Pump Track World Championships after winning the Lesotho National Pump Track race in 2019.
Another inspirational film was Wild Waters; about Nouria Newman, who is touted as “the most gifted kayaker of her generation.” Note that it doesn’t say woman kayaker. She’s the most gifted kayaker. Period.
What she does on the water is breathtaking. She challenges the whitewater, descends waterfalls, and is redefining the boundaries of her sport.
In Free to Run the story is as much about Stephanie Case and her endurance running as it is about the organization she created (Free to Run) to get the women of Afghanistan to lace up their shoes and start running. It’s truly captivating.
Watch these films; many are on YouTube. Or go to the traveling film festival when it’s in your town.