Following on from the climbing film premieres of the recent months, including Reel Rock 13, Dawn Wall, and Free Solo, I was eager to continue experiencing captivating narratives and adrenaline-inducing footage. With Kendal Mountain Festival making a stop in
Film Director Steve Scott served as the evening’s host, giving us context before each short film, and introducing guest speaker Ben Saunders. The inclusion of a talk in the middle of the screenings set this festival tour apart from other adventure events I’ve attended, where the focus is either the speaker or the screen; this evening provided a good balance of both.
Polar explorer and endurance athlete Saunders was a natural storyteller, recalling how during his two-decade-long gap year he has become the only Briton to ski to both the North and South Poles. I particularly enjoyed his ability to illustrate his adventures in a relatable way, describing how the white-out conditions of
My favourite element of Saunders’ talk was his sense of humour, both in asides during his stories and situational humour. For example, after poking fun at having ‘polar explorer’ as his job title, he questioned the person who made an odder career choice in weighing polar bears for a living. Also, he related how, upon reaching the North Pole and making several phone calls, only his mother answered and insisted on calling another time because she was at the grocery store checkout. Saunders closed by hinting at an incipient return journey to the polar regions, so we will have to stay tuned to see where he heads next.
I appreciated the diverse selection of award-winning films, featuring different protagonists - from a skilled male-female alpinist pair, to a Salomon-sponsored distance runner, to a ‘regular guy’ living on the shores of
Another theme that emerged from the collection of films was that adventure does not necessarily have to be perilous to be rewarding, and this made some of the characters more relatable. Rickey Gates, who grew up feeling comfortable in the mountains, tasked himself with running every street in
One of the highlights of this adventure film festival is that in three hours I got to experience stories and footage that spanned the spectrum of otherworldly and relatable. There are summits and white water rapids I may never visit, but still got the chance to appreciate in almost full force, and this was balanced by content that excited me to pursue future adventures.
The Kendal Mountain Festival is now heading north to