BANFF 2024: interview with Alessandra Raggio

Like every year, BANFF ‘s Italian tour has toured the peninsula bringing untold stories and images that have inspired thousands of fans. 37 Italian cities hosted the 12th edition of the tour, with screenings, special guests and outdoor stories. The last dates are approaching, and we took the opportunity to find out some background with Alessandra Raggio, curator, organizer and promoter of Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Italy.

Alessandra Raggio

Would you like to tell us what were the main changes for this 12th edition?

One of the highlights is definitely reaching Sicily: we finally managed to cross the strait and reach Catania! It is our great desire to be able to expand the audience for our shows, because throughout Italy there is a great passion for mountains, nature and outdoor sports. When we talk about mountains we usually think mostly of the Alps, but we should not forget the Apennines, or the mountains in Sicily and Sardinia! Being able to get to Catania, thanks to the cooperation of passionate people who have called us and are supporting us, is a great success for us. Our structure-and this is definitely another important innovation-is increasingly relying on the community on the ground, engaging people locally to reduce our impact on the environment by reducing the number of trips the road tour requires. As for the festival proper, this year for the first time there are films that deal with issues such as inclusiveness and diversity without losing emotion. In fact, I’ll give you a preview: they are among our audience’s favorite movies so far!

BANFF 2024

What do you think is the most important thing such an event can convey?

Our life in cities is in danger of being very detached from nature, which we are fully a part of instead, and this undermines our well-being deep down. Regaining contact with the environment in a respectful way is a source of tremendous stimulation for our creativity because it releases new energies that often, due to an essentially sedentary daily life, end up being dormant. Often the adventures in our films take place in remote and wild places, but there is no shortage of examples where we see that adventure can be experienced even behind the home, and that is precisely the spirit we want to convey, rediscovering a taste for the unknown, looking at what seems known to us through new eyes.

BANFF 2024

What role do you think the film world plays in creating awareness of environmental issues as well?

The film world increasingly conveys environmental themes, in generic films and especially in “green cinema,” in which nature and the environment become the central subject of the narrative. In our festival, the theme of saving the Planet and creating awareness of the effect of our actions on the environment is very important, probably the most important and the one that is closest to our hearts, but not the only one. Our films show nature in its beauty and majesty, and already this inspires the viewer to experience and respect it; plus they convey many messages and invitations, often related to taking care of it. There is a call to overcome the selfishness of individuals, but also of the human species, which is responsible not only for its own health but that of the Planet.

BANFF 2024

How did the story of BANFF Italy begin?

The idea of bringing the festival to Italy was born in 2013. As an outdoor film enthusiast, I knew the long tradition and prestige of the Canadian festival and I knew that in Italy was not yet among the countries hosting the World Tour. It seemed to me an interesting opportunity to introduce new films to our audiences and, at the same time, an event that has been a meeting point for mountaineers, filmmakers and writers in Canada for more than 40 years. What I liked most about this project was the idea of creating a kind of bridge between Canada and Italy, of uniting realities that are only seemingly distant, and of creating a community based on shared passions and values, even before language or geographical affiliation. Over the years, we are building this community around the evenings: the BMFF is now a regular event for many people who draw inspiration from what they see, not so much to imitate athletes, but to shape their own projects and dreams.

BANFF 2024

What would you say to those who are curious but have never attended an evening?

To come and experience it firsthand! BANFF is a kind of trip around the world that allows people to visit remote or even nearby countries and places, but seen with new eyes through the stories of the films’ protagonists. It is an annual event aimed at all enthusiasts and others united by shared interests and values; an opportunity to find stimulation, plan new adventures, and spend an evening together, catching up with old friends or making new ones (we know there are also those who have found love!).

Do you see any differences between the audiences of the various stages?

Definitely yes! There are cities where you really feel a greater energy and participation than in others. All of our stages have active audiences, even the shyer ones over the years have let go…but in the cities closest to the mountains, the audiences are truly unique!

And for those who will not be able to attend the evenings?

Those who cannot attend the evenings can still watch the BANFF films on our Ithaca on Demand platform (
): from the beginning of May in fact we will publish them, although coming to the cinema and sharing the evening with the community is another thing!

BANFF 2024

Do you have a favorite movie among those on the program?

Two Point Four, in which well-known British climber Leo Houlding, his wife Jess and their two children Freya (age 9) and Jackson (age 5) climb Stetind, one of the iconic mountains in Norway. Beyond the beauty of the places, it is an incentive to involve one’s family and children from an early age, to share travel and outdoor adventures, accustoming them from an early age to find their own dimension in the natural environment, to experience it, to love and respect it. Everything in the film is experienced with great naturalness and simplicity.

Is there one stage out of all of them that gave you the most satisfaction for some reason?

I always remember with fondness the evening in Bergamo in 2019, which had Denis Urubko as a guest speaker who had just returned from his winter attempt on K2 and after rescuing the French mountaineer Revol on Nanga Parbat: Denis was so tired, but he had incredible energy! Then there was the 2020 Milan opening night at the National Theater: when I went on stage to introduce the evening and saw 1,400 people looking at me…initially I had a moment of panic, immediately warmed by an emotional flow due to the warmth of all those people waiting for BANFF! How exciting!

BANFF 2024

Who is behind BANFF Italy besides you?

There is the all-female Milan team, which curates, organizes and is responsible for the management and communication of BANFF and the other festivals we bring to Italy (Ocean Film Festival and Reel Rock, as well as the Ithaca on Demand platform). Then there are the Road Warriors, our close associates who run the evening with professionalism and great passion, and the volunteers, who support our team and without whom BANFF would not be what it is! And, last but not least, the audiences who follow us in the hall and who year after year, edition after edition, continue to share this great adventure with us!

BANFF 2024