Banff: As Seen In

Marilyn Monroe insisted on doing her own stunts in River of No Return, even when that meant going over Banff’s Bow Falls in a raft. Monroe survived, albeit with a severely twisted ankle, and the falls themselves are at least as stunning as the star they carried.

Banff at a Glance

  • Population 8,224
  • Median Family Income $98,070
  • Unemployment Rate 4.7%
  • Residential Vacancy Rate 1.1%
  • Life Stress 20.9%
  • Sense of Belonging 75.2%

Source: Government of Alberta

Banff has a long history as the rugged setting in which film actors, from Monroe in 1954 to Brad Pitt in 1994’s Legends of the Fall, are pitted against raw nature for the benefit of cinema audiences. The mountainous city and its majestic environs in southwest Alberta also feature in documentaries that highlight the natural wonders of the place, as well as the feats of endurance and athleticism demonstrated by intrepid mountaineers of all kinds.

Celebrating the synergy between the natural landscape and the film production industry it fosters is one of the primary goals of the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival, which has been showcasing the world’s best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects for over 46 years. Hosted by the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, the nine-day festival also features events with major figures in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking and exploration, and awards over $40,000 in prizes for films and books.

As a global learning organization leading in arts, culture and creativity, Banff Centre also contributes to the integration of place and filmmaking through its internationally renowned Media and Production program. The program involves an intensive hands-on practicum in which recent undergraduate and graduate students gain experience in producing diverse video projects, working with state-of-the-art equipment and a world-class faculty.

“Being here has helped me focus what I am looking to do,” says Roland Eksteins, a 2016 alumnus. “I’ve developed a whole new skill set, proficiency with new gear and awareness of the field.” And he’s applied these competencies to his work as an outdoor adventure filmmaker specializing in the rugged landscapes and locales surrounding Banff. By nurturing generations of filmmakers who will take the area as its subject, the community is ensuring its immortality on screen.