Janifer Larson on bringing the Banff Mountain Film Festival to Ogden
By Mekenna Malan | February 9th, 2022
Photo courtesy of Banff Centre
If you know, you know—attending the Banff Mountain Film Festival world tour screenings at the Egyptian Theatre is a mid-winter highlight every year. Find more information on this year’s inspiring and adventurous films below, as well as an interview with Janifer Larson, the Utah native who brought the fest to Ogden starting in 1999.
Hey, Jan! First things first, have you always lived in Utah?
No, it was probably 1973 is when we moved here. I grew up in Littleton, Colorado. I lived in New Orleans for a while, and then moved to Minneapolis, and ended up trying to get back to Colorado—and here we are in Utah. My husband had a contract with Hill Air Force Base and that's how we ended up here. We continue to stay here because we love the mountains, going out to the desert, kayaking, hiking, biking, and fishing.
Janifer at Lake Louise.
How did you first get involved with the Banff Mountain Film Festival?
I taught skiing at Snowbasin in the 70s and got involved with the race program up there for the junior racers. Once, a gal that was in the race department handed me an envelope. She said she got it every year and always would just throw it away. It was the packet from the Banff Centre in Alberta, promoting a film festival and their program of traveling to different cities.
I was on the ski foundation at that time and I told them, “I really think we should do this. If you sell 200 tickets to the Egyptian Theatre, you won’t lose a thing.” We sold 400 tickets. That was in 1999, and it’s only grown from there. For a long time, we were only able to have it for one day a year. It progressed to two because we were selling out, and then probably five or six years ago we went for three nights and sold out all three nights. After I retired, I started going up to the festival in Alberta to preview and vote on films.
Do the proceeds from the Ogden screenings benefit the same group every year?
Yes, the Snowbasin Ski Team.
Janifer with friend Barbara and Banff Road Warrior Kristi, top of the tram at Snowbasin.
Do you feel like Covid has affected the Ogden screenings of the festival too much?
Last year, we didn't host the festival in person. We did a virtual screening, and it wasn't nearly the same. And usually, the Banff Centre sends “road warriors” to every stop on the tour to give the audience a little hype and get them cheering and hollering. They can’t come down to the US this year because of Covid, so the announcer will just be virtual on the screen instead of onstage. I hope we fill the theater up this year—I think we will.
Do you have a favorite category of film to watch?
It seems everybody’s favorite used to be skiing, but now a lot of the environmental films and adventure films—like people crossing the ocean, huge adventure films from Nepal and the Himalayas, that kind of thing—are very popular. I just haven't got a favorite anymore, I really enjoy all of them. But Banff really started with climbing and films about dirtbags. And still, some of those films are the most incredible. And no matter what the film is about, the scenery has gotten more beautiful every year.
This year's programs: