Two nights of joy

On the nights of Feb. 12 and 13, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour presented over a dozen films about mountain sports and culture to sold-out audiences in the Ragan Theater.

Since 1976 filmmakers and adrenaline junkies alike have assembled in the city of Banff, Alberta, Canada, to participate in the Banff Mountain Film Festival. When the festival comes to a close, the best films go on a world tour. For the past seven years, the Outdoor Adventure Center has brought the tour to campus.

Films presented in the Ragan Theater included Trial & Error, a film about mountain biker Ryan Leech and an incredible trail in coastal British Columbia. In King Lines, climber Chris Sharma challenges himself on thrilling lines around the world. It’s Fantastic is the first documentary about the new fringe sport of "speedflying" and features three speedfliers from Salt Lake City. With the exception of a single film titled Great Day for Climbing, which was a baby boomer bust, the films were entertaining and engaging – creating a perfect synthesis of cinema and spectator.

The most captivating film of the tour was 20 Second of Joy. This film was the recipient of both the People’s Choice Award and the Best Film on Mountain Sports Award in Banff.

Filmmaker Jens Hoffman chronicled the BASE-jumping career of Norwegian Karina Hollekim beginning with her first jump from a bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho in 2002.

The audience can’t help but feel something for Hollekim as she talks about her past, including why her mother did not recognize her when she was four years old and how her father kicked her out of the house without saying a word. Hollekim’s life journey eventually led her into a freefall – literally. Hollekim dived into the extreme sport of jumping from high buildings, antennae, spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs), a sport known simply as BASE jumping.

Breathtaking cinematography captures Hollekim leaping from 3,000-foot granite cliffs in Norway into a glacier-carved fjord below. Hollekim somersaults multiple times before she spreads her limbs and glides like a flying squirrel out and away from the cliff. Her BASE jumps are shown from various angles, including from a camera attached to the helmet of a second jumper that follows her into the fjord. To these scenes the audience in the Ragan Theater responded with outbursts of approval.

But the audience was eerily silent as the film cut to grainy footage from the helmet camera of a skydiver wrestling with her parachute before suddenly hitting a tree and then the ground with an audible thump. The skydiver was Karina Hollekim, and in that instant feelings for Hollekim quickly became a liability. The audience must come to grips with what they witnessed, as Hollekim must come to grips with her injuries.

If you cannot wait until next year for the tour to return to campus, you might be able to catch the tour this week at the University of Utah on Feb. 19 and 20. Call 801-581-7100 for tickets, or, for more information about 20 Second of Joy and the Banff Mountain Film Festival, you can visit

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