March 29, 2019

HUNTINGTON — Every fall since 1976, the world’s most daring outdoors adventure filmmakers gather at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, in the Rocky Mountains to celebrate their jaw-dropping short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports and environment.

After the gathering, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour travels the globe with stops in about 550 communities and 40 countries where 500,000 folks get to see a two-hour blast of the best outdoors films featuring ultrarunners, rock climbers, kayakers, backcountry skiers and other adventurers, shot in locations around the world including New Zealand, the Canadian Arctic, the Alaskan wilderness, the Greenland Ice Cap, Nepal, the Ecuadorian Amazon, the Faroe Islands and many more.

For the third straight year, the famous film fest will be shown in Huntington as Marshall University Student Activities and the Marshall Artists Series have teamed up to offer the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour

at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center in Huntington.

Tickets for Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour are $10. Contact the Marshall Artists Series Box Office at 304-696-6656 or order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com. You may also visit the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse box office from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also buy tickets the night of the films.

Penny Watkins, executive director of the Marshall Artists Series, said they’re excited to team up with Student Activities to present such a unique and inspiring evening of film.

Although best known for reeling in strings of performing artists, the nation’s second oldest “town and gown” Artists Series actually got its start with an adventure film screening — explorer Rear Admiral Byrd’s lecture and film “Conquering the Antarctic” in 1936.

“In a weird kind of way it is almost like a flip back to the early days of the travelogues,” Watkins said of the wealth of new outdoor adventure films. “When the Artists Series started, their first show was ‘Antarctica.’ They showed a film for people to see what this part of the world was like and people came and they saw it because they couldn’t go there. These films are sort of like that. You may love the water and love to go hit the New River but are more of a novice so you can come here and see a film about someone going over a waterfall in a kayak in Brazil. So, the world is out there.

“For me, I think of every-thing that the Artists Series does is like that. It is not just about this evening. It is about the future. You have to think long-term.”

The dream of bringing the famous Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour to West Virginia was that of Chad Steen, the former assistant director of adventure recreation and youth programs at the Marshall Rec Center. Steen, who worked at the Rec Center for four years, is now at a job in New Hampshire. With Steen gone the Rec Center decided to no longer help organize the tour stop and Watkins said she successfully pitched the MU Student Activities to team up with the Artists Series to present Banff to inspire students and the community.

In its first two years in Huntington, the Banff Mountain Film Fest drew about 700 people (including 500 the first year) to come see some of the world’s best adventure films.

“It was going to go away and personally, in my mind, I felt like we need to keep this for Huntington,” Watkins said. “It is not that expensive. It is a one-day deal and if somebody really gets behind it you could come in and see kayaks sitting around and rafting companies promoting for summer tourism. So I went to Student Activities and said ‘Here’s a project.’ They have to have people to select the films each year — Banff is kind of like the Oscars for outdoor sports film — so why not get the Film Club at Marshall involved because they have to pick the films. There are just so many community pieces to this with the students and tourism.”

At each stop of the Banff Film Fest Tour, local folks curate the films that they feel would play best in their community depending on that area’s outdoor interests. The evening has, for the first two years, included about two dozen films with some as short as four or five minutes, up to no longer than 30 minutes. This year, the Marshall University Film Club made those selections that are TBA.

“My hope is that this could be become something Student Activities owns and take that educational piece of film selection and that the Film Club could get involved more and more and they could be here talking about why they selected the films for our area. Then you have Student Activities as kind of the producer and they could connect with outfitters around the state so when people come in from the evening, they could be booking tourism so there is a whole economic impact and educational impact,” Watkins said. “I sort of had the vision that we could not lose this and we would not have, but I felt like it needed all of these other components.”

With the film festival rolling in comes a glimpse of the finish line for the 2018-19 Marshall Artists Series as there is just one more show left: the Broadway tour of the fun musical “Rock of Ages” that pays homage to the hair-bands of the 1980s.

Watkins said as the season draws to a close they feel thankful for what has been another successful season of the Marshall Artists Series, which is coming off of two sold-out shows with “Cinderella” and “Steve Martin and Martin Short.”

“I feel like the Artists Series doesn’t happen without Marshall University, our family believing in us and the community supporting it financially,” Watkins said. “In the end, to raise over $900,000 each year so that we can start over at zero is a miracle in this market — in my mind. Hopefully we are going to be at our zero so we can start over. ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ was probably one of the biggest financial concerns for me this year because we are trying to develop a new art form, because that is what is bringing people back to hear classical music.

“I feel like we have had a good season but, again, we wouldn’t have it without the people who give the ticket money and the university still saying this is important to the community. If you didn’t have those, you wouldn’t have an Artists Series.”


WHAT: The Marshall University Student Activities and Marshall Artists Series present the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour featuring a two-hour-long buffet of short films — from four minutes to 25 minutes — that are among the world’s best mountain sport, culture and environmental films.

WHERE: Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center, 925 4th Ave., Huntington

WHEN: 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2

GET TIX: Tickets for Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour are $10. Contact the Marshall Artists Series Box Office at 304-696-6656 or order tickets online at Ticketmaster.com. You may also visit the Joan C. Edwards Playhouse box office from noon to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also buy tickets the night of the films.

SPONSORS: Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is also sponsored by the Marshall University Film Club, iHeart Media, WSAZ, The Herald-Dispatch, Marshall University, and the Marshall Artists Series.

ON DECK @ THE ARTISTS SERIES: At 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 9, get ready to rock out to the music of hit bands such as Styx, Poison, Twisted Sister, Whitesnake and many others as the Broadway hit “Rock of Ages” comes to the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center. The five-time Tony nominee, including Best Musical, is blazing across North America on its 10th Anniversary Tour. Feel the noise and take your best shot as the iconic musical captures the era that was 1980s Hollywood as Stacee Jaxx returns to the stage at one of the Sunset Strip’s last epic venues, and rock-n-roll dreamers line up to make their fantasies reality. Tickets are $98, $81, $71 and $64.

ON THE WEB: Go online at https://www.banffcentre.ca/banff-mountain-film-and-book-festival to find out more about the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.

The BANFF lineup

Banff has selected the following nine films to be shown at the Huntington event: