This year is the 40th anniversary of the Kendal Mountain Festival and I was delighted to hear that we have had two films selected for the 10 day extravaganza.
When I was growing up Kendal was the only Mountain Film Festival, at least that I had ever heard of. As soon as I could drive I took off to the Lake District and Snowdonia and Kendal became a regular event in the autumn, normally combining a good social with a couple of films and some good days out in the mountains. I remember sitting and watching the likes of Eric Jones and Alan Hinkes (there was a contrast if ever there was one), Bonnington, Doug Scott and plenty more inspiring people I had never heard of but that were out there and doing it.
I hope our two films encapsulate some of those memories of Kendal – people you have probably never heard of but who are out there and doing it. Ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia where I now live.
The festival is a bit different this year for obvious reasons. It is all online but it looks like they have done a great job of making that a positive experience, retaining engagement between the audience and the films, opening up the content to a potentially much bigger and more diverse audience and giving us all the chance to watch the films over an extended period at our leisure.
Film passes are on sale now and you can buy your tickets and read more about this years format on the website here.
The Corris Round is making its world premiere at Kendal. I only shot this two weeks before the Kendal deadline but as soon as I had it in the edit I knew it was ideal for the festival. I pulled some long days and nights to get it done in time and even then it needed some tweaks once I had submitted it. It is a lovely heart warming story of how one boy makes the most of the lockdown this summer to create his own ultra run, inspired by his hero Nicky Spinks. Nicky was good enough to share some footage from her own adventures and chat to us about Tom and his run and it has come together really nicely.
The White Fox has been out for almost a year now and has been really well received by a diverse audience. It’s nomination for the Leeds International Film Festival means it is BAFTA qualifying and the selection for Kendal is the icing on the cake for me. The film follows a Leeds bouncer who discovered the mountains – Charlie Leeds. I have known Charlie since the first day he got into the mountains.
Over the years I have got to hear his story, a little bit at a time. We’ve been to a lot of cool places together, we’ve bivvied in a lightning storm in the Alps, drank too much in Namche Bazaar, hung out on sea cliffs and climbed water ice. It’s fair to say he is one of the most inspiring people I have met over the years – he had a vision and went for it. And he achieved it.
As I got to understand the whole story and his motivation I wanted to tell it through a film and persuaded Charlie to let me come to Leeds and film him at work. It was a masterclass in people management, persuading the drunk and the spirited folk of Leeds that he knew best in the nicest possible way. On his way home that night he rescued a suicide jumper from a bridge. I missed that bit! We then hooked up for sunrise on Crib Goch to film the second half of the film and understand how the mountains healed him.
I hope you enjoy the films and all of the other amazing stuff that will be showing at Kendal this year – we all hope that next year will be a bit more normal I am sure but we can still get out there and we can still do the things that we love – even during a lockdown!