By Gemma Snell

Firstly, a huge thanks to Valley News for running the competition to win tickets to the Banff Film Festival 2019 (March 5 screening), we’d been meaning to go for a few years; and now we’re planning on going to the Ocean Film Festival in Sept! I can’t believe we’ve missed it for all these years.

I was surprised at how many people were at the showing, and the City Hall is the perfect venue, so straight to the bar for refreshments was our first calling. There were several stands promoting equipment and a main stand selling t-shirts and scarfs, everyone seemed to be at this stand. There were free energy bars and entry slips for an interval competition to win goodies.

We had great seats, and the atmosphere was really chilled, looking around I saw lots of like-minded individuals, they looked like they enjoyed being outdoors, I felt like I was in good company.

The showing started with an animation, if you were a climber, you’d appreciate some of the humour, I hoped it wouldn’t all be like this…

I’m not going to go into detail about all of the films, because for me there was one that stood out the most. Not only was I in absolute awe at the human feats, but at the relationship between a mother and a daughter, not going to lie… there were tears.

This Mountain Life documents the six-month ski traverse in the Coast Mountains, 2300-kilometer journey from Canada to Alaska, following Martina Halik and her 60-year-old mother Tania as they prepare and complete this incredible journey, only once completed before and never by a female duo.

This film resonated with me, not only because of the incredible human beings I was watching on the big screen, but their unique relationship that has been shaped by their lifestyle, and ultimately by this venture into the wilderness.

These women inspired me beyond words in just over an hour, I was moved.

There’s a short piece in the film where Tania speaks about her life. Born in the Czech Republic in 1956 and growing up under the Russian communist occupation, Tania found respite from the oppression in the outdoors; rock climbing iconic Czech sandstone towers, competing at the national level Nordic skiing, trail running and kayaking.

She dreamed of joining Czechoslovakia’s Mountain Rescue Service. She was couple decades ahead of her time, as they refused to accept women at that time. Together with her husband and four-year-old daughter, as well as being two months pregnant, they hatched a daring escape by foot from behind the Russian communist controlled Iron Curtain.

Their plan worked, and they were able to start a new and unoppressed life and family in Switzerland. Two years later they moved to British Columbia. After 28 years in Canada; after years ski patrolling, avalanche forecasting, and paramedic work, training three avalanche rescue dogs and raising two daughters, she was ready for her biggest challenge yet.

For me this film had everything, an amazing journey shared by two inspirational women, by two inspirational mother-daughter duo – it made me think about my relationship with my daughter. I was wowed by the cinematic footage of the mountains and rolling shots over glaciers and forests.

I recommend this film, and I recommend getting tickets to the next Banff Festival 2020 or better yet the Ocean Film Festival in September.

Tickets for the Ocean Film Festival in September can be found here:

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