The Kendal Mountain Festival 2014 proved once again to be a busy and inspiring four days of films, photos, music, art and literature with an (un)healthy dose of food and beer on the side. A new focus for 2014 on making the festival more thoughfully and creatively diverse - with a special emphasis on the written word and adventure-related art - appeared to be well received by festival-goers.
Maintaining its status as the main social event for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK, world-class film-makers, lecturers, artists and climbers combined to share inspirational tales from a wide variety of sports and activities and attracted visitors from all corners of the globe. The social hub was once again the Brewery Arts Centre, flanked by the Marmot Tent which held various talks and events, the Lowe Alpine Yurt, the Glenfiddich tent and the Basecamp Marquee with its host of outdoor gear and company stalls. Other fringe events such as the Kendal Film Academy, live music shows and the 10km Trail Race added to the multifarious nature of the festival.
"We had a massive range of films this year, from anarchic mountain bike comedy, fluorescent skiers and kayaking fantasies to tales of Everest and E11’s. It was great to see that out of the 70 films selected to screen, 48 got at least one vote in the Peoples Choice award - for someone that film about making motorbikes and surfboards was their top film of the weekend! I guess that’s what Kendal is all about, celebrating adventure in all its forms, acknowledging personal adventures as well as groundbreaking expeditions. The Judges' recognition of young filmmakers Jen Randall and Rosie Reed-Hillman for Where Walking Took Me and Cailleach made for an emotive awards ceremony, and the support from the likes of Paul Diffley and Al Lee for Ian Burton’s People's Choice Award for As The Crow flies underlined how valuable Kendal is for filmmakers, and how supportive it can be.
Our first Film and Industry summit, which was by turns an articulate, comic and impassioned debate showed how important it is to collect the industry together at Kendal to discuss issues both on the commissioning and money end of filmmaking to the more thematic and cerebral, and I’m really grateful to everyone who came and took part. Final highlight for me was when the music stopped at 3am in Ruskin’s Bar and people carried on shouting at each other regardless, Kendal is where people come to ’share the adventure', madcap, on the edge and emotional, it was great to see it in action!"
The British Mountaineering Council held a VIP reception on the Saturday afternoon. Vice President Mina-Leslie Wujastyk spoke about the work being undertaken by the BMC to promote and encourage women’s climbing, and CEO Dave Turnbull mentioned the changeover of President from Scott Titt to Rehan Siddiqui, commencing April 2015.
Those that have read Summit Magazine or visited the BMC website over the past 12 months will have noticed there has been a greater push by the organisation to support Hillwalkers and Hillwalking. With the voting of area representatives into the newly formed Hillwalking Group having taken place this month, there promises to be further development over the next year, led by BMC Hillwalking Officer Carey Davies.
Another key point within the meeting was that the BMC have changed their insurance underwriter, after issues with several claims arose in 2014. Prices are set to remain competitive and with the recently updated insurance booking site, taking out BMC insurance has never been easier, or more confidence inspiring - our representative body are looking after us.
A large number of industry representatives were also present throughout the festival. The Marmot tent was a hive of activity each evening, with free live music, talks from Marmot athletes and even a cookery class. The Lowe Alpine Yurt attracted visitors by offering talks and special events such as the Himalayan Breakfast on the Saturday morning, and Glenfiddich offered talks and tastings throughout the festival in their whisky yurt. Marmot representative Liam Lonsdale commented:
“We have been proud sponsors of Kendal Mountain Festival for a number of years and have been hosting lectures from some of our highest profile athletes such as Steve McClure, Robert Jasper and Lucy Creamer as part of the main festival. Supporting KMF is massively important to us, it is a melting pot of enthusiasts from all walks of life and all parts of the mountain … much like us at Marmot.
The Marmot Tent launched at the 2013 festival and was a massive success, with the bar dried out and crowd-surfing to boot. This year was no different, although we were much better prepared - we had plenty more beer.
Our goal was to create a fringe event for festival-goers, that could be enjoyed free of charge. With gourmet wilderness cooking, pumped-up folk music and stomping rockabilly (complete with harmonicas and a double bass) the Marmot Tent was packed to the rafters all weekend and we feel we succeeded in making it an event to remember. Be sure to check us out again next year when we will be bigger, better and louder.”
This year the Awards Ceremony moved to the Saturday Night. This was done to enable more people to be able to see the Best of Kendal selection on the Sunday, since previously this always ended up being incredibly popular when it was limited to a single late showing. The only issue was that the People's Choice Award, arguably the one most valued by the Film Makers, wasn't presented since the votes were not counted until mid-day on Sunday.
Despite Andy Kirkpatrick's attempts to turn the Awards Ceremony into a riotous stand-up routine, the event went smoothly. There were moving acceptance speeches from Jen Randall, winner of Best Short Film and Connie Self on behalf of Jeff Lowe for Metanoia who was present in the audience. The trophy for the People's Choice Award was presented to Director Ian Burton at the Town Hall during the Best of Kendal screening for his film As The Crow Flies. Once again a moving acceptance speech was given by Ian, the culmination of years of hard work and his efforts being recognised by the 'people' of the festival proved to be an emotional highlight of the event.
Alastair Lee, Director of the winning film Stone Free in the 'Adrenaline' category, commented: "When I saw how strong the film line up was this year and the judging panel I'd have had no complaints on coming away empty handed this year. To have my work recognised amongst what is truly a heavyweight line up of award winners is fantastic.'" He added: "I think this is the first time that the Boardman Tasker winner has also been the focus of a winning film so I'm really made up for Jules, much deserved attention!"
Festival attendee Will Carroll travelled from Edinburgh to the event. He remarked: "It was my first KMF so I can't comment on whether it was the best ever, but I was blown away by both the quality of each film I saw and the breadth of content in the overall programme. I left with some evocative images to remember and to inspire my own adventures. The set up at the Brewery Arts Centre also makes a great focal point outside of the film screenings. It's just fun to be surrounded by so many people that you know are like-minded!"
WINNERS - KMF 2014
Best Climbing Film: Sufferfest II
Best Mountaineering Film: Metanoia
Best Adventure & Exploration Film: Dejame Vivir
Best Environment & Culture Film: DamNation
Best Adrenaline Film: Stone Free
Best Short Film: Where Walking Took Me
Best Sound: Sounds Of Paragliding
Best Visual: Afterglow
Grand Prize: Valley Uprising
Judges Special Prize: Cailleach
People's Choice: As The Crow Flies
All in all a very successful four days of celebrating mountain adventure across a wide variety of media - here's to KMF 2015!
Watch some of the winning film trailers below: