On the Couch With: Nell Teasdale from Banff Mountain Film Festival UK & Ireland

The Banff Mountain Film Festival first began in 1976 and in the past 8 years, the UK and Ireland are part of this fantastic film festival that celebrates around the world adventure in the outdoors. Back in 2009, it was started by Nell Teasdale with first screenings in the UK. Together with her partner, Simon Piper, they make sure each year we are treated to a set of amazing documentaries. We sat down with Nell to ask her about the festival, how it all started and what are the best films according to her.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Nell Teasdale, Director, Banff Mountain Film Festival UK & IrelandMy name is Nell Teasdale, I’ve lived in the UK for over 10 years now. I moved here from Australia to start a career in Emergency Management. When my partner (Simon Piper) and I moved to London, there weren’t any screenings of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. We always used to get to screenings in Sydney because we found it a great source of inspiration for the outdoors and adventure. So we missed not being able to experience this in London. When we found there weren’t any screenings in London we got in touch with the Banff Centre in Canada (the guys who run the festival and World Tour) and the rest is history. I am one of two Directors of the Banff Mountain Film Festival UK and Ireland Tour, Simon is the other Director. Together we are responsible for every aspect of the Tour in the UK – from finding venues to building the website to actually running the shows – every aspect you can think of – we do it ourselves!

What makes Banff Mountain Film Festival unique?

Banff MFF is special and unique because it offers people a voyage of adventure and expedition through the big screen – with each year’s films being completely different from the previous year. Well over 300 films are entered into the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival each year so there is a really diverse selection of films that we’re able to show on the UK and Ireland Tour. So a Banff screening will share with audiences a wide range of mountain sports, different aspect of mountain culture and some really intriguing characters.

Nell at Banff Mountain Film Festival, Union Chapel, London 2016

Banff Mountain Film Festival in the UK

Besides the screenings of amazing documentaries, what else happens on a typical festival evening?

We always have nightly prize draws and giveaways at the screenings so people are always able to come away with a Clif Bar and often a prize as well! We also have a free Tour Magazine so people can read more about the fantastic characters on the big screen to get even more inspiration. The screenings are an annual social catch up for friends who share that spirit of adventure or a night out for clubs such as mountaineering and climbing clubs. A typical screening is usually quite a social occasion for people which is great and adds lots of fun and excitement to the nights!

So you started with BMFF 8 years ago, what do you think is the biggest change the film festival has seen over the years?

I started working with Banff Mountain Film Festival 8 years ago and I think the biggest change has been how many people recognise the name ‘Banff’ and know what a Banff event is across the country. Our audience has broadened as well – University students recommend the screenings to their parents and grandparents recommend screenings to their grandchildren! It is definitely an event that all ages will enjoy!

What is this year’s hit so far and what do you think makes this film so popular?

Our most popular film so far is ‘Four Mums in a Boat’. It is about a group of middle aged women from Yorkshire who enter the world’s hardest ocean row – a 3000 nautical mile race from the Canary Islands to Antigua. I think it is so popular because these are really ordinary women who take on a challenge of epic proportion – I think people find it really relatable and genuinely inspiring because they see themselves potentially being able to do something as momentous as that race!

What is your favourite documentary ever that was screened at the film festival?

I have a few favourite films but one of them is called ‘Crossing the Ice’. It was about two Australian adventurers who were aiming to undertake the first ever unsupported trek from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole and back - on skis. As everyone knows though, Australians aren’t natural skiers and with them another adventurer set out at exactly the same time to try to be the first to achieve the same crossing. Their competition was Aleksander Gamme from Norway and he was a natural skier. Their film was incredibly funny and really inspiring. Aleksander beat them but instead of making it to the finishing line ahead of the Australians and being the first to make the crossing, he waited for several days in his tent so they could all cross together. It was a film that really captured what adventure should all be about!

Are you coming back next year and can people still buy tickets for the film festival this year?

Of course we’ll be back next year! It will be our 9th Tour so you can expect to see us in all of this year’s locations and perhaps in some new places as well! The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour visits more than 40 countries worldwide so you can see it everywhere from Australia to Antarctica, Bangladesh to Belgium and pretty much everywhere in between!

The UK & Ireland Tour runs until 17 May and if you want to see our locations and buy tickets – head to our website which is See you at a screening hopefully!



Festivals, on the couch

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