The Kendal Mountain Festival 2016 proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art and literature with plenty of beer, food and social activity on the side. This year, the festival placed yet more emphasis on making the events thoughtfully and creatively diverse, with more arts and literature sessions than ever before. A further major change saw the film screenings categorised by central themes and emotions rather than by activity, as in previous years.
The Basecamp Village proved popular with talks and workshops adding an energetic vibe to the exhibitor stalls and the Vat Bar was yet again the social hub of the festival. Neil Gresham and Ben Moon offered workshops on the Moon board, which attracted some big names throughout the weekend. Rumour has it that local up-and-coming star Aidan Roberts burnt-off Alex Megos on one particular problem...
Notable speakers included the inimitable US climber Cedar Wright, German sport climbing hero Alex Megos and 'Wide Boy' Pete Whittaker, who revealed all about his recent all-free rope-solo of El Capitan. Greg Boswell and Nick Bullock regaled an audience with tales of their bear encounter in Canada last year. Other fringe events such as the the Filmmaking Summit, live music shows, art exhibitions and the 10km Trail Race added to the multifarious nature of the festival.
UKC played an active role in the festival once again. A highlight of the weekend was Nick Brown's film 'Run Forever' receiving the Judge's Special Prize, a film following the story of Nicky's successful 132-mile double Bob Graham Round around the Lakeland fells in May, ten years after being diagnosed with, and recovering from, breast cancer. Nick commented on his win:
'It was an immense privilege to stand up on stage with Nicky to accept the judge's special prize, especially from such an experienced panel. It was also great to see Roger Baumeister there who did the first double Bob Graham. There's a lovely moment in the film where he talks about not winning any awards for doing these sports, so it was nice for both him and Nicky to get some recognition for their amazing achievements.'
Our upcoming short film 'Dear Alison' - a film based on a poem written in memory of the late Alison Hargreaves by climber and poet Helen Mort and produced in conjunction with Dark Sky Media - screened in the 'Vision' session throughout the weekend and will be available to watch online from next week as part of a UKC Digital Feature on Helen and her work.
Rob Greenwood hosted the Petzl Rock Session featuring Jorg Verhoeven, Katha Saurwein, Robbie Phillips and a virtual Andy Pollitt on Sunday afternoon. Rob commented:
'This year's session was a real blast, not least because Robbie, Jorg and Katha had just got back from highly successful trips to Yosemite Valley - as such the psyche was high (infectiously so!). Alongside Andy Pollitt's virtual presence, we had the actual presence of his editor/school teacher Andy Boorman, which really made the session for me.'
On Friday evening, Natalie Berry was 'in conversation' with Dan Richards, author of Climbing Days, an exploration of the writing and climbing lives of his great great aunt and uncle, Dorothy Pilley and I. A. Richards.
We were also present throughout the weekend on the UKC/UKH and Rockfax stand, where festival-goers enjoyed bargain guidebooks, so much so that festival stock of the latest Chamonix Rockfax sold out!
The winner of the Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature was The Bond by Simon McCartney and Vertebrate Publishing, a book which is tipped to become a mountaineering classic. Announcing the winner, chair of judges Graham Desroy described The Bond as a book that 'portrays life at the very edge of existence'.
In addition to Nick Brown's win, the prestigious International Film Competition saw other British filmmakers receive trophies for their work. Al Lee's 'Blocheads' - a film depicting the history and modern-day culture of British bouldering - scooped two awards, Best Climbing Film and People's Choice and local filmmaker Dom Bush won Best Adventure Sport film with 'Tom Seipp - A Mountain Journal.'
Each night this week, we'll be posting one of our five favourite climbing films from the festival as part of our 'Kendal Rekindled' film night concept. Keep an eye out...
International Film Competition - Winners 2016
Grand Prize: The Accord
Judges Special Prize: Run Forever
Best Short Film: King of the Mountain
Best Environment Film: Samuel in the Clouds
Best Mountaineering Film: Jurek
Best Adventure & Exploration Film: Iran: A Skier's Journey
Best Climbing Film: Blocheads
Best Culture: Drawing the Tiger
Best Adventure Sport: Tom Seipp - A Mountain Journal
Best Sound: The Place
Best Visual: Johanna
Peoples Choice Film Prize: Blocheads