Banff Film Festival - A Tacoma Tradition

This year marks our eleventh anniversary hosting the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Tacoma. Learn why this tradition means so much to our members and community.
Jim Feltus Jim Feltus
November 30, 2015
Banff Film Festival - A Tacoma Tradition

If we bring it, will they come? Eleven years ago, this question plagued Justin Canny, of the University of Puget Sound Outdoor Programs, and me (Jim Feltus, of The Mountaineers, Tacoma Branch). Without knowing the answer, we took a chance and brought the Banff Mountain Film Festival to Tacoma. 

Through their combined efforts, the first screening was held at Schneebeck Concert Hall on the campus of the University of Puget Sound for 300 excited attendees. The show was declared a success!  

The next year attendance grew to 400 people. Word spread to our community and soon everyone knew Banff was a fantastic event and Schneebeck Hall filled to capacity (550 seats!). After selling out for several years, a new home for the film festival was needed: the Rialto Theater in the Theater District of downtown Tacoma. 

The Rialto holds a special place in our hearts because it's almost as old as we are. Standing proudly in the heart of downtown Tacoma, the Rialto was completed in 1918 with seating for 1,500 people. It operated as a movie theater until the late 1980’s when the building was sold to the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts and underwent a major renovation to accomodate more modern amenities. In 1992, the Rialto Theater found its place on the National Register of Historic buildings.  Today, for two consecutive nights in late November or early December, we're proud to call the Rialto "home" to Tacoma’s screening of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. 

Now the Rialto holds 738 people. At first, we didn’t know we'd be able to fill all the seats! But after many more years, Banff has now grown to two nights at the Rialto showing different films each night.

In addition, our collaboration with the UPS Outdoor Programs has grow and we've added Edgeworks Indoor Climbing to the team to reach a bigger outdoor community. Together with The Mountaineers,UPS Outdoor Programs and Edworks now present the film festival as an annual gathering of the outdoor adventure community of the South Sound – Tacoma area. The Mountaineers also offers world tour showings in Olympia and Seattle.

Folks who attend the festival not only view some of the best films of mountain culture and adventure, they also have the opportunity to see friends, enjoy a beverage, have a date night with their sweetie, or take the family out for a fun outing.

As Mountaineers, we are proud of this contribution to our adventure community, of the shared sense of camaraderie that has developed around the festival with our partners at UPS and Edgeworks. We are grateful for this opportunity to help bring to Tacoma the best offering of mountain culture and adventure films out there.

See the show!

Join us for one of the first stops on the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour on Nov 30 and Dec 1! Tickets can be purchased at

We already have next year’s dates too – November 29 and 30, 2016. Tickets will go on sale in October. Mark your calendars!

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