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Adventure & the big screen [pt. 1]

October 26, 2013.Oliver.0 Likes.0 Comments

Monday last week was the kickoff for the Adventure Film Festival (AFF), bringing a decent selection of adventure travel and action sports films to UK cinemas during October and November. Three nights and fifteen movies visualizing the thin line between bravery and bravado as well as celebrating passion for adventure, thrill and pushing the boundaries. Showcasing different people dreaming similar dreams – short documentaries on the big screen. An exquisite line-up from across the globe which has been carefully selected from hundreds of submission, intending to excite, entertain and inspire…

The first half an hour turns out to be the most exhausting part of the entire evening: an avalanche hitting the place and you feel like being completely snowed under – by advertisement. Going to cinema only once in a blue moon and not owning a TV set makes you quite vulnerable when it comes to such a mountain of “advice”. A strange profusion filling you with emptiness just before the adventurous part begins…

Way of Life

The gaze seems to slide up the mountain without leaving even the slightest trail in the pristine layer of snow. Climbing the top again and again, peeping over the edge before the steep slope comes into view. Layers of snow-covered mountains seemigly try to hide behind each other in the distance and the crisp air almost sparkles. Only the flight of a helicopter shreds the silence, evoking a sensation of twist…

“It’s no surprise that when you follow your passions and live the life that you wanna live that you encounter others that are doing the same, reinforcing that it’s a righteous path.”

What follows is a half-hour journey to the mountains and the mind of people seeking thrill on ski and in snow. Jaw-dropping scenes and breathtaking scenery in different locations around the globe. The movie is not only a patchwork of different skills and characters, but also shows a different approach of conquering this wilderness amid the clouds: While a bunch of people will be dropped off at the peak by a helicopter before rushing down the steep slopes, others in contrast are reaching the top after hours of walk through the night before being rewarded with splendid views and a stunning ski-run at dawn.

“For some, embracing the mountains is not just part of life, it’s a way of life.”


The shortest film of the evening accompanies a team of kayakers and filmmakers into the heart of the remote Mexican jungle “in search of the perfect waterfall and the perfect shot”.

“Crawling through the heart of the place , staring through lenses, off the bow of a kayak, covered with the blood of it, head to toe, mud, river water, rain leaves, bugs and viruses. But we’re so damned lucky…”

The crew not only explores some seemingly impervious natural beauty but also discovers the open-hearted fascination of native people, finding “a smile at the end of every dirt road”. A bold venture not only for the guys paddling through the torrent, but just as much for the ones dangling over it – secured by a rope while clinging to the camera.

“We’re finding magic everywhere down here.”

Cascada is the Spanish word for waterfall…

Not Bad

The intro already indicates quite well what to expect in this movie: a bunch of crazy guys having fun and some madness on wheels…

“A tale of seven riders who come together for 30 days of bicycle tomfoolery in New Zealand…”

A remarkable medley of skills and stunts as well as showing the stunning scenery the country has to offer – even though it’s more about the time they spend together than savouring moments, more about their imaginary camp than the setting itself. Having said that, these folks have a good time somewhere between hump and jump, morning rides and water fights. Watching this movie feels a bit like riding a road paved with grins, bumps of laughter and an occasional disbelieving shake of the head while wheeling along a bizarre backdrop…

“There’s a session going on, it’s the story of my life right there.”

The Last Great Climb

Probably the only adventure of the entire evening which deserves the denotation “expedition”. An extraordinary undertaking which could certainly pass off as blue print for adventure, seeing an idea evolving into a plan and this plan actually taking shape – trying to reach the clouds at the foot of the earth…

“This is one of the most technically demanding climbs in one of the world’s harshest environments.”

The glacial desert Antarctica is the stage for this spectacle. An impressive documentary tracing the journey of a lifetime for adventure climber Leo Houlding and his team and their attempt to conquer the majestic Ulvetanna Peak, a distinctive peak and masterpiece of this epic mountain range. Sleeping in hanging tents and ascending in conditions which are gnawing at body and mind alike, the crew seeks to push the limits on their way up to the summit.

“It’s as close to being on a different planet as I can imagine one could be…”

One evening and almost two hours of adventure on the big screen, offering an enjoyable diversity and covering a range of scenery and elements: embracing the mountains and life itself, rambling the jungle in search of the the perfect spot and shot, an all-round good time in the saddle and an extreme ascent at the southernmost corner of the earth. Different places, different people – in a way different similarities and “dreams made visisble”…


header image:
The Last Great Climb – Posing Productions
[copyright Alastair Lee]

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