Be entertained and inspired for adventure

3 minutes read
Posted 17 June, 2024
Nuptse Film Image

Nuptse: Touching the Intangible follows the obsessive quest of three French mountaineers attempting to summit the Himalayan peak via the legendary almost-8000m south face

NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival returns from Friday. The programme will run across Wānaka and Queenstown, and will bring something for everyone, hoping to inspire, entertain and move you, through the films and speakers. Most importantly they want to inspire you to pursue your own adventures.

The festival was started in Wānaka in 2002 by Mark and Joe Seddon as a slide show, using a 35mm slide projector. It wasn’t long before they moved from slides to films on VHS, before coming over the hill to Queenstown in 2012. Today, the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival is a trust that is dedicated to keeping the event grassroots, keeping it as inexpensive and accessible as possible. Alex Kerr has been working behind the scenes of this year’s festival and can’t wait.

“It’s an internationally-recognised film competition that attracts world-class entries from all over the globe, and then supports New Zealand filmmakers. It’s grown from this small community event, and it still is at the heart of it, really.”

There are 64 films in the final programme for this year’s event – they’re stoked to have had a record number of entries with 241 up from 177 in 2023. Queenstown will start with opening night on Thursday followed by the Pure NZ session on Friday afternoon and Snow Show on Friday evening. Kerr is thrilled by the strong Kiwi film numbers this year.

“The programme is action packed, as usual,” Kerr says. “On the Wānaka programme, which is a little bigger, we’ve got 64 films and 20 are New Zealand made – really high standards by the New Zealand filmmakers and we’re excited to be able to showcase their work. I feel it’s really great for the Queenstown audiences because there’s a lot of really familiar faces, and they’re great stories all around.”

Some of the faces we might recognise include Craig Murray and Hank Bilous, who are freeride world tour skiers as well as Georgia Merton and Isobel Ewing. Georgia is one of the people who was a student at the adventure film school the festival support – giving back to the filmmaking community is important to them. They won the award for best self-filmed for Inshallah, where they showcase themselves winging it on bicycles through the mountains of northern Pakistan.

Beyond the films, guest speaker Simone Moro will discuss some of his experiences at the festival. His achievements in high-altitude mountaineering are matched only by his feats of bravery; he’s the only alpinist to complete four 8000m first ascents in winter. He’s also a helicopter pilot and has completed numerous rescue operations from the air, including the highest long-line rescue of 7800m on Everest.

“He’s a legendary Italian mountaineer, who has achieved amazing things. Those peaks that he’s climbed are absolutely enormous mountains, 8000 metres, but the fact that he’s done them in winter is really something else and he’s in not just once, but four times. It’s a pretty amazing career he’s having, so we’re really looking forward to hearing from him.”

The festival also offers a grant scheme with three main pillars that they support including funding youth in adventure filmmaking courses and/or adventure skills training, supporting local environmental projects such as native tree planting and river clean-ups, and assisting with funding people with disabilities to purchase specialist sporting equipment or to experience the outdoors. All these are able to be funded with the help community support for the festival.

“People do come away really inspired and you watch these films and think ‘well, that’s crazy.’ Some of the things that people are doing – climbing these crazy mountains and base jumping and all that kind of thing – so it’s not necessarily about saying everybody should be doing that sort of adrenaline-fuelled adventure, it’s encouraging people to do that local walk they’ve been meaning to do but never got around to, it’s that kind of thing, just inspiring people to do their own adventures,” Kerr says.

The New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival will take place in Wānaka from 21 – 25 June and in Queenstown from 27 – 28 June at the Memorial Centre. You can find the full programme, read bios of the talkers, films and books, and get tickets at www.mountainfilm.nz

Inshallah 7 1

Kiwis Georgia Merton and Isobel Ewing won 'best self-filmed' for Inshallah, a cycle expedition through the mountains of northern Pakistan


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