ON screen: Alpine movies and must-sees at the NZ Mountain Film Festival

Nathan Fa'avae, world champion adventure racer who will be speaking at the Mountain Film Festival.

Nathan Fa’avae, world champion adventure racer who will be speaking at the Mountain Film Festival.

In Central Otago, the mountains are our backdrop, our playground; sites of adventure, mystique and mana. The 2015 NZ Mountain Film Festival reflects the significance the alps hold in our national psyche. It also showcases the lure the call of the wild provides for intrepid explorers overseas. An international film competition provides the backbone for the programme, with the award winners and best films screened from July 3 – 11 in Wanaka, Cromwell and Queenstown. Attendees can enjoy adrenaline packed documentaries as well as stories of the cultural and physical environments in which these narratives take place. Designed to entertain, involve and inspire, the wider programme is loaded with workshops, the new Mountain Books event, competitions and adventure schools.

Costing between $10 and $37, the most heartracing shows include the Adrenaline Session, Ski and Snowboard Adventures, Adventure Films and the Bike, Kayak and Fly Show. ‘Across The Ice’ by USA director Sebastian Copeland epitomises the adrenaline and adventure genre. In 2010, Copeland and partner Eric McNair-Landry crossed 2300 kilometres of the Greenland ice sheet on skis and kites. They braved a blizzard lasting one week in a small tent and set a world record for the longest distance travelled in a twenty-four hour period.

Many films capture meaningful messages about the cultures and the landscapes within which the adventures unfold. The Environmental shows, Mountain Culture and Nature and the Environment feature world-class cinematography in what are bound to be memorable sessions. The winner of a special Jury Award featuring in the Mountain Culture show is Tashi and the Monk. This touching film follows former Buddhist monk Lobsang who left life as a spiritual teacher in the United States to create a unique community in the Himalayas that rescues orphaned children. Directors Andrew Hinton and Johnny Burke capture the poignant story of 5 year-old Tashi, the newest arrival, struggling to find her place amongst 84 new siblings.

As well as cinematic sessions, the festival offers an enticing array of sideshows. Rippon Hall will host the inaugural Words and Wine event where authors Lydia Bradey, Mal Law, Derek Grzelewski, Paul Hersey and Paul Maxim will read excerpts from their books. Common themes throughout include determination, ambition and an astute sense of exploration. The first 50 people can enjoy a complimentary glass of Rippon wine and the writers will be available for book sales and signings.

The programme also includes filmmaking workshops, writing and photography schools, art exhibitions and walks and of course world-class films and speakers. ONmag’s must-see list includes the free shows, Adventure Matinee (which features the world premiere of Re-Establishment: an insight into the life of local athlete Sam Lee as he targets the Freeride World Tour and recovers from a knee injury. Additionally, this afternoon session also unveils the  NZ premiere of For A Fistful of Seconds – Bertrand Delapierre‘s basejumping and climbing epic set in the French Alps), Camilla Rutherford‘s photography workshop, Adventure Writing School, Nature and the Environment with Wanaka photographer Richard Sidey, Antartica – A Year on Ice; Session #11’s talk from legendary Steve Gurney matched with a slick series of films including Will Jackways – Interpretation by Tim Pierce; and world champion adventure racer Nathan Fa’avae‘s presentation in Queenstown. We’ve chased Nathan around during the Eco Challenge and we think he is amazing not only because he is an intrepid guru but also because he has his wedding band tattooed around his ring finger. This guy is serious about commitment!

Commit yourself to catching the Mountain Film Festival this year. Programmes can be picked up at Wanaka Paper Plus and viewed online at the festival website mountainfilm.net.nz. Bring it ON!

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