When I saw a social media promotion this week for the Sheffield Outdoor City Weekender which includes SHAFF (the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival), it got me thinking about some of the brilliant weekends I’ve had at various film festivals over the years.
My first ever mountain film festival was at Kendal, many years ago. It had a real small and friendly atmosphere and I can remember sitting in the theatre waiting for the premiere of the climbing film “Blood, Sweat and Bagels“, wondering why we’d all been handed some jelly sweets and told to wait until the appropriate moment in the film to eat them. Incidentally, I loved that film and it’s still up there as one of my all-time favourite films.
We also saw a talk at Kendal by some young pretenders in the climbing world, a couple of guys by the name of Neil Gresham and Tim Emmett. They came running down the aisle towards the stage, dressed in not much other than shiny body paint, to a crescendo of explosions. It was one of the most dramatic entrances for a slide show talk that I’ve ever seen – sadly the entire room had to be evacuated straight afterwards due to the fire alarms going off.
As the Kendal Mountain Festival grew, my interest wained. I’d loved the small town feel of the festival and the fact that a day ticket gave us the option to see a whole variety of films and talks. I watched films and listened to talks that I would never have considered booking specifically, just because we stayed in the room for the next round of films.
Luckily, LLAMFF (the Llanberis Mountain Film Festival) had started running by then. If Kendal had been small town, LLAMFF was like a group of mates getting together. I absolutely loved that event and, again, a weekend pass meant that we could come and go to a real mixture of films and talks.
There was always a chance to chat with the speakers over the weekend and really immerse yourself in the whole outdoor community. LLAMFF became one of those weekends on the calendar where we would book extended days off work and soak it all up, energising us for adventures over the year ahead.
One year, we were staying at Pen-y-Pass YHA at the top of the Llanberis Pass. It was snowing heavily as we drove to Wales and it had settled thickly on the road up to the YHA. The journey up the Pass was difficult, heading for odd patches of uncovered tarmac just to get some traction on one wheel.
We finally arrived and the car was abandoned in the snow covered public car park. I suggested that maybe we needed to park a little better and was laughingly challenged to uncover the white lines. The next morning, we woke to stunning blue skies and snowy conditions – the car park was heaving with people setting off on a mountain adventure.
I have lots more memories of the talks and films at LLAMFF and we only stopped going when they had a short break in their festival schedule.
So it’s with great anticipation that Sheffield is really starting to make something of their film festival weekend. We live near Sheffield, we climbed there for years, I’ve worked there on and off over time and it’s where we go Christmas shopping – I guess you could say that it’s our home festival.
If you’ve been to a mountain film festival, you’ll understand just what I love about them. If you’ve not, give one a go sometime – maybe we’ll bump into each other.
To make life easier and give you a head start, I’ve listed some of the mountain film festivals around the UK this year (and if you know of any others not listed, please pass the information on in the comments below).
BANFF Mountain Film Festival UK Tour
January to May 2018 (dates around the UK)
Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival
3rd to 4th February 2018
Buxton Adventure Festival
13th February to 19th June 2018 (monthly events)
Fort William Mountain Festival
21st to 25th February 2018
Braemar Mountain Festival
1st to 4th March 2018
LLAMFF (Llanberis Mountain Film Festival)
2nd to 4th March 2018 – dates postponed due to lack of funding
The Outdoor City Weekender – Sheffield (SHAFF)
9th to 11th March 2018
Keswick Mountain Festival
8th to 10th June 2018
Alpkit Big Shakeout (Peak District)
28th to 30th September 2018
South West Outdoor Festival
5th to 7th October 2018
Womens Adventure Expo
6th October 2018
Kendal Mountain Film Festival
15th to 18th November 2018
Dundee Mountain Film Festival
22nd to 24th November 2018
Women in Adventure Film – BMC
Also worthy of note is the Women in Adventure film competition by the BMC.
The winners are shown at LLAMFF, SHAFF and Kendal – but it’s also worth checking BMC TV for tons more adventure films which you can watch on line free of charge.