Nov 13 20
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KMFIt has been another brilliant year for the Kendal Mountain Festival

However, personally I find most climbing films to be fairly boring! Why? Well here are my examples: another super steep bit of limestone (substitue any rock type); some more super small holds; more grunts and power screams; another “hardest” or “most beautiful line ever”; the outcome is never really in doubt, etc. Basically they are all the same. Sometimes of course you get special ones that stand out, perhaps with amazing scenery etc. Places you’d wish to travel to and experience yourself. But mostly climbing films are all the same.

Anyhow, the Kendal Mountain Festival is unique and showcases a spectacular array of films in so many different disciplines that my bias is irrelevant – there’s always something to see and marvel at. That said, for me the most compelling parts of the festival are not the films:

  • The festival is an incredible gathering of outdoorsy people that completely take over Kendal town centre! For me this social event is so much more important than anything else. It is also perhaps the most significant of its type in the world. From my point-of-view you need a hefty excuse not to be in Kendal on KMF weekend. It’s almost impossible to catch up with everyone – it seems like every three steps you take there’s another smiling face waiting to share the past twelve months of adventure…
  • An opportunity to see any number of fascinating lectures and events. It’s for this reason that I express (to Andy Perkins, my boss for the weekend and chief presenter for the festival) a preference to present lectures. This year I was lucky enough to present two superb lectures: Andy Cave (with support from Naill Grimes) and Kenton Cool. Kenton’s lecture in particular was pretty special: it was in the Leisure Centre so I had nearly 600 people to welcome, and Kenton’s emotional talk was breathtaking. While Andy’s story – coal miner to climber – seems to always stimulate endless questions.

So what of the main event, the winning films?

  • Best Climbing Film – The Sensei
    Yep, it’s another climbing film – in my view, basically the same as the rest!
  • Best Mountain Adventure Film – The Road from Karakol
  • Best Mountaineering Film – High Tension
  • Best Mountain Culture Film – Valhalla
  • Best Mountain Environment Film – Defaid a Dringo
    Hooray, a climbing film that isn’t a climbing film – it’s about hill-farming. I’d have preferred it to have not been made in Welsh with English subtitles though. Although, I think the film was produced for Welsh TV, so maybe that’s OK. ;-)
  • Best Adrenaline Film – Petit Bus Rouge
    I really wanted to see this one – the excerpts I did see looked amazing, and funny! However, I didn’t get a chance as it was only being shown when I was elsewhere presenting other items. Perhaps it is one to catch at the various Best of Kendal events around the country?
  • Best Short Film – Cascada
  • Judges’ Special Prize – Rockin’ Cuba
    Hmm, not sure I agree with this prize. Sure the film was almost all great, and the soundtrack was brilliant. However, the singular issue of ethics, for me, means this film can not be held up as “good”. Is it really OK to visit a wild location, and in the pursuit of something as selfish as bolting yet another super steep piece of limestone, to reach for the insecticide and kill a naturally located wasp nest?
  • Judges’ Award for Filmcraft – The Last Great Climb
    Isn’t this really just another big budget Berghaus advert? For me this comment I saw elsewhere sums it up: “… The Last Great Climb was a cold and dry version of Autana. I knew who was going to be in it, what they would say and what would happen … it’s clearly a formula that works”.
  • KMF Short Film Competition supported by Channel 4 – Cave Unicycling
    I’ve done a lot of caving and potholing in my time, and just carrying rope, a SRT kit, and a Mars bar through a system can be impossibly tough. Can you imagine the craziness of these guys carrying – and using – a unicycle underground!
  • The People’s Choice – Distilled
    Another film that makes me wonder how tough those film makers are. Scottish winter conditions are harsh, can you imagine filming as well?
  • Grand Prize – The Crash Reel
    It’s hard to argue with this choice, simply oozing emotion! (Oh, and it isn’t a climbing film. :alien: )

KMF is great – an amazing gathering for an amazing weekend! Already I’m looking forward to next year’s festival … it’s always the 3rd week of November so in 2014 the main weekend of festing will be 21st/22nd.

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