The 2020 Kendal Film Awards were held on Saturday night, hosted by Kendal Mountain Festival's resident Jury Chairman Keme Nzerem and a panel of judges. This year's festival had a record 400 entries from both professional and amateur filmmakers; a remarkable achievement considering the obstacles that filmmakers had to contend with throughout the year.
Without further ado, the winners of the 2020 Kendal Mountain Festival Film Awards are:
Best Creative: Then Comes The Evening - DIRECTOR: Maja Novaković Serbia
Depicting the lives of two grandmothers living in eastern Bosnia. Nature is the entity that they speak and listen to, and respect.
The film emphasises the power of cultural heritage, through the presentation of chants and rituals for taming adverse weather, hail, and storm. It reflects the simplicity and purity of their way of life, as well as their painstaking work. Everyday life in the countryside shows the caring and intimacy of these grandmothers, both in their mutual relations and in their relationship with nature.
Best Short: Lock Down, Rock Up - DIRECTOR: Nico Hambleton
Jerome Mowat takes us through the challenges he faced as a front-line paramedic during the pandemic, and how he used climbing as an escape.
Best Environmental: The Cull - DIRECTOR: Ted Simpson
There are estimated to be over 350,000 red deer in Scotland, which has a massive impact on the landscape and ecosystem of the Highlands. 'The Cull' explores the different approaches to deer management taken by landowners and managers, and the reasons behind those differing approaches. Talking to people from all over Scotland and on all sides of the debate, the film presents the issues as seen by real people on the ground.
Best Adventure and Exploration: Piano to Zanskar - DIRECTOR: Michal Sulima
Aided by a team of local Sherpas, as well as yaks and ponies, Desmond and his assistants are tested to the limit, physically and psychologically, as they cross sheer mountain passes of breathtaking beauty. If successful, the expedition will be the highest piano delivery in the world. More importantly, it will be the ultimate gesture of music's universal power to inspire strength and bring joy.
Best Mountain Film: The Ghosts Above - DIRECTORS: Taylor Rees and Renan Ozturk
A team wants to solve the mystery of who climber Everest first, but finds so much more; a brutal reality.
Everest is the eternal subject of mountain films. Who achieved the first summit? Was it really George Mallory? On this quest, there are reflections on the history of Everest expeditions, the fraught relationship between indigenous guides and expeditioners, the rigours of high-alpine mountaineering, and the commercialisation of sacred Everest. A brutally honest look at the current state of affairs.
Best Sport: Runner - DIRECTOR: Bill Gallagher
When he was eight, Guor Mading Maker (known as Guor Marial) ran from capture in war-torn Sudan to eventually seek safety in the US. In his new life, Marial began running and qualified for the 2012 Olympics. He had to fight to compete independently, refusing to run for Sudan and taking a stand against its oppression. 'Runner' depicts Marial's difficult and triumphant journey from refugee to world-renowned athlete.
Best Climbing Film: Loic and the Flolopapys - DIRECTOR: Dominique Snyers
Twenty-two year old Loic became a passionate climber after having received his first pair of climbing shoes at age six. Along with Florian, Pablo and Pierre, they are the inseparable 'Flolopapys', bringing their energy and good vibes to the farthest reaches of the climbing world.
Although each is unique, they complement and support each other like a band of brothers. You'll fall under the spell of their humour, friendship and fragility. But can Loic use the Flolopapys energy to overcome his haunting fear of heights as he confronts some of the toughest climbs on the planet?
Best Community and Culture Award: Africa Riding - DIRECTOR: Aurélien Biette and Liz Gomis
Africa Riding is a documentary series that presents a community of riders that try to create a new social and cultural order in Africa. Karim, an amazing Rwandan roller skater, performs incredible stunts and tricks. Thanks to his talent, he has been hired to give roller skating lessons to children. In his lessons, he mixes children from all backgrounds and from his own Gakinjiro neighborhood in Kigali.
Changemaker Award: Venture Out - DIRECTORS: Palmer Morse, Jamie DiNicola and Matt Mikkelsen
Venture Out is a story of overcoming odds, the power of resilience, and the ever-lasting effects of LGBTQ community building. The Venture Out Project, founded by Perry Cohen, is a non-profit organisation that brings LGBTQ folks together outdoors on wilderness trips. In sharing his story, we get a glimpse into the healing qualities of nature and life-saving community bonds that are being forged.
Judges Special Prize: Chasing Ghosts - DIRECTOR: Eric Bendick
In their quest to identify the pollinator of the ghost orchid, a team spent three summers standing waist-deep in alligator- and snake-laden water, swatting air blackened by mosquitoes, and climbing to nausea-inducing heights. They came away with an even deeper love for Florida's wildest wetlands - and with surprising revelations that may help to conserve the endangered orchid and it's shrinking home.
Judges Special Prize: Do Better Together - DIRECTOR: Shelma Jun
Ayesha McGowan is training to become the first African American female professional road cyclist, but it's not just about her breaking through. Rather, Ayesha is a voice for how important representation matters to make this sport accessible for others. She works tirelessly to empower people of colour to try new things and has created an online platform to tell their stories.
Grand Prize: Into the Storm [En la Tomenta] - DIRECTOR: Adam Brown
Filmed over 5 years, Into the Storm [En La Tormenta] follows the unlikely dream of a young indigenous surfer from one of the toughest barrios in Latin America as he struggles to escape the deprivations of his background and become a professional athlete. It's a story of hope and huge personal struggle against seemingly impossible odds – including being shot. It's a testament to the transformative difference made by the love of a parent; and ultimately it's the emotional and uplifting triumph of young man who refuses to be defined by the circumstances of his birth.
All the award-winning films are in a special film collection that can be watched here.
On-demand until 31st December, Kendal Mountain Festival will provide unlimited access to curated films, live sessions, literature and inspiring speakers, online for everyone, everywhere via the Festival's website. For access to over 200 films, 20+ inspirational speakers, 15 specialist sessions and 30 literature talks, visit www.kendalmountainfestival.com.
KMF has very kindly offered all UKC/UKH readers a unique discount for festival events.