IT is the film festival that will unleash your inner adventurer.
You will leave the cinema feeling like an excitable explorer, your head buzzing with a hundred and one ideas for future outdoors expeditions.
Or at least that is what happened to me, such was the power of the BANFF Mountain Film Festival.
I found myself dreaming up ridiculous concepts for adventures I could plan this year – climbing all 214 Wainwright fells in a month, summiting Worcestershire Beacon every day for year or running the Severn Way.
I was well and truly inspired – the evening had put the wind in the sail of my inner adventurer.
The Friday night event I attended at Malvern Theatres featured eight of the best adventure films from across the globe and I was hooked from the first minute.
Each one included incredible landscapes, epic journeys and awe-inspiring adventures.
Afterglow (above) was a multi-coloured spectacle featuring skiers in illuminated clothing as they whizzed through deep snow in Alaska, while Sun Dog (below) introduced a remarkable canine with a similar taste for downhill action in the Patagonian mountains.
Touch was a colourful, cheeky piece about the hair-raising flying techniques of paragliding pro Jean-Baptiste Chandelier (below) and The Ridge (top) showed the death-defying exploits of mountain bike hero Danny MacAskill as he cycled the Cuillin Ridgeline on the Isle of Skye.
But, for me, these films were a little too polished, coming across like slick adverts designed to give a global brand the wow factor.
Nonetheless they were visually stunning and really fun to watch – and my jaw certainly hit the floor on several occasions, especially during the Danny MacAskill video.
The real winners on the night however were the films that focused on the human stories – the emotional high and lows – behind the adventures.
Sufferfest 2 (below) brilliantly captured the way camaraderie and humour can get adventurers through tough times.
The film, which followed Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright as they climbed 45 of the American Southwest’s most iconic desert towers, offered the audience real laugh-out-loud moments as well as an insight into the friendship and togetherness the pair shared.
In Drawn (below) climber and artist Jeremy Collins embarked on a mission to scatter the ashes of a friend, who died in a tragic climbing accident, in wild places in all four corners of the world.
This piece was sad and poignant but equally inspirational, advocating a carpe diem philosophy and a positive approach to grief.
It also intertwined the stories of Jeremy’s overseas climbing with the domestic realities of raising his young children, and in doing so showcased that a loving family life and adventurous living do not have to be mutually exclusive.
But my two favourite films at the festival were Into The Empty Quarter and Mending The Line.
The former recorded the adventures of Alastair Humphreys and Leon McCarron (below) trekking 1,000 miles through the ferocious desert heat of the Empty Quarter in the Arabian Peninsula, in homage to the great explorer Wilfred Thesiger who made the same journey in the 1940s.
I loved this film because it was real and down-to-earth.
The pair’s hastily-planned and low-budget approach made adventure seem achievable for mere mortals – and I found that far more inspiring than some of the other films.
A scene where Alastair broke down into tears brought home the mental challenge explorers face, while Leon’s mantra that “we wake up, walk, sleep and do it again” brilliantly summed up the simplicity – in sharp contrast to complicated everyday lives – of some adventures.
But best of all the film was about people – and in particular the generosity of those who helped out the pair, offering them a watermelon or a cup of coffee in times of need.
I was struck by this message. Adventure is as much about humanity and interaction, friendship and camaraderie, as it is about wilderness and solitude.
For me however Into The Empty Quarter was surpassed, just, by Mending The Line.
The film told the extraordinary story of fishing fanatic Frank Moore (below), an American who fought in the Second World War in 1944 and 70 years later returned with his wife and son to heal the wounds of his past by fly fishing in the French streams he once helped free.
I am known for being quite cold when it comes to emotional films – but this one had my eyes watering in no time.
A scene when Frank, aged 90, read aloud a letter he wrote to his wife from the battlefield was incredibly moving while his memories of the conflict – “I grew old in 15 minutes” – were similarly stirring.
It was this humanity – the tale of one man’s personal journey to deal with the demons of war and of his deep and endearing love for both his wife and fishing – that made the film so appealing.
Unlike Frank, I’m lucky enough to have 59 years until I reach my ninth decade on this earth.
The BANFF Mountain Film Festival has released my inner adventurer so I’m determined to make it 59 years to remember.