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A still from the movie 'Stumped' by Cedar Wright. [Courtesy image]

The great outdoors on the big screen

It’s no secret that many Southern Oregon residents enjoy the numerous outdoor adventure opportunities the region has to offer. From back-country skiing to whitewater kayaking and everything in between, there is an abundance for nature lovers and adrenaline junkies to do.

To celebrate the outdoor bounty, the seventh annual Banff Mountain Film Festival will stop in Ashland Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 5-6.

The Banff festival is held every November in Banff, Canada, and features a collection of films from all over the world. The tour stops in about 285 communities in 36 countries.

Student volunteers at Southern Oregon University’s Outdoor Adventure Leadership degree program, alongside members of the multicultural resource center, organized the event.

Event coordinator Mathew Money, a junior at SOU, described the film festival as “a collection of short, creative films based around mountain sports, culture and people who claim the mountains as home.”

“We know that the people of the (Rogue) Valley love taking advantage of the outdoor playground around us, and this festival is a great way to enjoy seeing some amazing films of interest while also supporting SOU and the community,” Money said.

Money is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in environmental science and policy with a minor in outdoor adventure leadership, plus a certificate of sustainability leadership.

The event is the largest fundraiser of the year for the outdoor program. Money said this event is particularly important because the proceeds mainly go toward helping the program fund trips with minimal costs, which students and community members (accompanied by a student) can attend. The funds from the event also go to equipment maintenance, new equipment and program expansion.

“The outdoor program is a great asset to not just SOU students, but staff, faculty and community members,” Money said. “We offer a lot of opportunities, and while we do have a budget from the school, we rely on fundraisers such as this to supplement and broaden our program.”

The program offers students professional-led trips for a variety of outdoor activities, as well as an equipment rental service for members of the university and the community.

Money said the program doesn’t focus exclusively on organizing outdoor trips, but on the program’s development, as well. All students, regardless of their area of study, may participate in outdoor program trips and are offered the chance to participate in the Student Driven Mentorship Program.

“Through our evaluation system, participants set their own goals to learn and improve their skills, culminating in the opportunity to lead their own trips, and create a portfolio of feedback to help them progress in their education and eventual careers,” Money said.

Multiple times a year program participants volunteer in various fields of focus, such as trail maintenance and park cleanups.

Nineteen films will be shown over the course of the event, hand selected by event staff from SOU with input from the BMFF staff.

A pre-show social will begin at 6 p.m. in the Rogue River Room in Stevenson Union and will be catered by Standing Stone Brewing Company.

Doors open at 7 p.m. in the SOU Music Recital Hall, and the show starts at 7:30. The event should last close to 3 hours each night, including intermission.

Tickets are $17 prior to the event and $20 at the door, but according to Money, tickets may not be available much longer.

Students can charge tickets to their student account by visiting the outdoor program at 1555 Webster Ave.

Parking on campus close to the venue has been reduced to $5 a night, and a license plate number is required to purchase parking for the event on campus.

Links to purchase tickets and parking passes, as well as maps of available lots, can be found at https://inside.sou.edu/outdoorprogram/banff.html.

“All of us at SOU and the outdoor program support the arts as an outlet for expression and method of communication,” Money said. “Outdoor pursuits worldwide are still considered extreme by a lot of people, so this festival and the films they showcase are a way for us enthusiasts to connect, displaying the accessibility and fun of the outdoors for all, as well as inform about different cultures and stewardship to conserve our playground.”

— Contact Ashland freelance writer Caitlin Fowlkes at Caitlin.fowlkes@gmail.com.

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