Lonnie Bedwell, a blind Navy veteran, was guided down the Colorado River during a 14-day kayak trip featured in “The Long River Home.” (Big Cedar Media)

Lonnie Bedwell, a blind Navy veteran, was guided down the Colorado River during a 14-day kayak trip featured in “The Long River Home.” (Big Cedar Media)

See 21 films about adventure and derring-do in the great outdoors

The Banff Mountain Film Festival visits the Historic Everett Theatre on Dec. 9-10.

One film is about two hikers who set out on a trek around the rim of the Grand Canyon — all 750 miles of it.

Another follows a crew of ice climbers as they race to find frozen waterfalls in Kentucky to clamber up before they melt.

These are two of the 21 films that will be screening Dec. 9-10 at the Historic Everett Theatre. Everett is among the first stops on the Banff Mountain Film Festival’s world tour, which feature scenes of high adventure, daring exploration and deep introspection.

The festival, established in 1976 and headquartered in Banff, Alberta, is the world’s best-known adventure film festival. The 44th installment concluded in November, but the best films are being screened around the world for the next six months.

This year’s selection, chosen from 62 finalists at the festival, includes movies about skiing, kayaking, mountain biking, long-distance ice skating, trail running, mountaineering, slacklining, and an Arctic expedition. The films also will address themes such as the environment, cultural identity and the human experience.

The tour’s film lineup changes based on local audiences. Mountain Gear, a retail store for outdoor gear and clothing in Spokane, has curated stops in Everett for the past three years.

Mountain Gear’s owner Paul Fish and event coordinator Phil Bridgers said they keep families, hard-core athletes and outdoor enthusiasts in mind while selecting films. Both nights will have different movies to watch.

“If we do the schedule right, you’ll get a rollercoaster of emotions,” Bridgers said.

The films will range from action-filled shorts to feature-length documentaries. A handful are animated and aimed toward kids.

Some of the films were made by professional crews, while others were shot by amateurs with GoPros.

“Small-scale filmmaking has gotten so good that you can do things without disruptions and follow people on trips,” Fish said. “You’re seeing things that are very real.”

A highlight of this year’s tour is Seth Dahl’s 20-minute film, “The Long River Home,” showing Dec. 10. It chronicles a 14-day kayak journey through powerful rapids in the Grand Canyon by three military veterans, including one who is blind and another who is a double amputee.

It features daring scenes of kayakers navigating whitewater, spectacular views of the canyon and the veterans’ reflections on how the trip helped them overcome adversity.

Lonnie Bedwell, a former Navy petty officer who earlier completed the first descent down the Colorado River by a blind person, was guided by kayakers who shouted commands.

Dahl, 37, of Boise, Idaho, was one of the cameramen recording the footage from J-Rigs — a type of river boat — as well as cliffs overlooking the river. The results turned out better than Dahl, an Army National Guard veteran, could have hoped.

“It was a massive challenge,” said Dahl, who produced the film with his company, Big Cedar Media. “Kayaking is such a fast sport to shoot. We wanted to be able to shoot slow motion and tight in on the action. That’s the beauty of this — you’re right in there with them.”

Showing Dec. 9 is Peter McBride and Amanda Pollak’s “Into the Canyon,” which focuses on two hikers’ 750-mile trek across the entire length of the Grand Canyon. It was awarded Best Feature-Length Mountain Film in November.

Also showing Dec. 9 is Ian Durkin and Trevor Gordon’s “Camel Finds Water,” which took the Creative Excellence Award. It chronicles Gordon’s restoration of an abandoned fishing boat he found in a field, which he christens Camel, and its maiden voyage from Santa Barbara, California, to the west coast of Vancouver Island in search of waves (he’s a surfer).

Fish, the Spokane man who curated the films to be shown in Everett, said his favorite film in the local program is “Eli” by Patagonia Films’ Monika McClure. The five-minute short features Navajo Nation cattle rancher and ultra runner Eli Neztsosie from Tonalea, Arizona.

“Eli” shows how Neztsosie’s years growing up with no electricity or running water taught him to rely on discipline and endurance while running 50 miles or more.

“I loved it,” Fish said. “What I like about Banff is that a lot of them aren’t just great footage. They are great stories, too.”

Fish believes films with substance go a longer way with audiences, such as “Myrtle Simpson: A Life on Ice,” about the first woman to ski across Greenland on an unsupported expedition,” and “The Imaginary Line,” which features a group who establish a slackline across the border of Mexico and the U.S.

He hopes they’ll want to go on their own adventures after they leave the theater.

“I would call it very inspirational for folks, and even a little scary at times,” he said. “You get a little bit of everything.”

Evan Thompson: 425-339-3427, ethompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.

If you go

The Banff Mountain Film Festival will screen from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 9-10 at the Historic Everett Theatre, 2911 Colby Ave., Everett. Tickets for Monday and Tuesday cost $36, while just Monday or Tuesday only is $20. Call 425-258-6766. More at www.yourhet.org.

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