The Tetrahedron Outdoor Club has moved the Sunshine Coast’s biggest one-night cultural event to a new time of year, uniting skiers and cinephiles alike for the annual Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour.
Begun in 1976, the flagship film festival takes place in Banff each November, followed by a tour to more than 800 cities worldwide. Event organizers in more than 40 countries choose from a selection of festival films that screen for a combined global audience of half a million audience members.
This year, the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club has rescheduled the local screening from its former springtime date to Feb. 3. More than 750 attendees are expected to attend the extravaganza at Elphinstone Secondary School.
“There’s no other event on the Sunshine Coast that hosts 750 people,” said Melissa Rayfield, a director of the Tetrahedron Outdoor Club. “We think of it as the biggest social night out of the year. It’s a very social gathering. Prior to the films and during intermission it’s just this massive storm of people milling around and running into people that they might not have seen since the last screening.”
The World Tour event is the club’s sole annual fundraiser. Money raised from admission sales will benefit the network of alpine cabins in Tetrahedron Provincial Park maintained by the 100-member nonprofit organization. The club pays for firewood and its delivery by helicopter, snowplowing, trail maintenance, and regular structural upgrades to the mountain huts.
The outdoor club has an extended network of 3,000 online followers who depend on its updates for news about snow and trail conditions.
Club volunteers make the final selection of films for the local screening event, choosing from a list of approximately 35 movies provided by the Banff Centre.
“There are different groupings of eight to 10 films each,” said Rayfield. “One grouping might be extreme sports, one might be considered family-friendly. There’s actually a lot of cultural films in there as well.”
Among the documentary offerings from this year’s Banff festival is Before They Fall, a 2021 film shot in Vancouver Island’s Fairy Creek. The movie depicts the decades-long conflict over the province’s remaining old-growth forests. The movie was named Best Canadian Documentary at the 2021 BC Environmental Film Festival.
None of the films are longer than 45 minutes. Most, like North Shore Betty — the story of a septuagenarian mountain biker (and single mother) who shreds the trails of North Vancouver — run about 10 minutes.
The screening at Elphinstone Secondary School, which will be hosted by perennial emcee Steve Sleep, includes tables with information about the outdoor club and other sponsors. “We try not to make it look like a trade show,” said Danny Fleischhacker, Rayfield’s husband, “because people are there to visit and see the films. But we do have a lot of sponsors.”
The Tetrahedron Outdoor Club has hosted the festival on the Sunshine Coast since 1999. Rayfield’s best-loved film was the 2011 documentary All I Can, which featured Canadian J.P. Auclair skiing through the snow-dusted downtown of Trail, B.C. Fleischhacker cited the 2014 short Afterflow as his favourite, which includes a scene of skiers descending a slope wearing electrified lightsuits.
Tickets ($25 cash) for the local screening are available at Alpha Adventures, Beyond Consignment, Elphi Cycles Sechelt & Gibsons, Tapworks and Trail Bay Source for Sports. Doors open at Elphinstone Secondary at 5:45 p.m. on Feb. 3; films begin at 7 p.m.