November 26, 2008 George Foster

KMFF….or whatever they’re calling themselves now

Went up to the Lakes the other weekend for the Nth Annual Kendal Mountain Film Festival. A chance to mingle with the best in the business both in climbing and film-making and catch up with mates from about the Kingdom.

Arrived on the Thursday for the premiere of ‘Call it what you want’ (CIWYW) which played in front of, frankly, Dave and his family/mates, however it was very well recieved and probably settled some doubts for the main screenings later in the weekend. Spent Friday fannying about sharing a coffee with Dave Birkett and feeling like a prize twat when he asked me what i did for a living (no doubt expecting me to be some full-time climbing wad who was really cool and underground) and had to listen to me mumbling on about working at Costa in the worst place in the Kingdom for climbing – c’est la vie!

Anyway my raison d’etre (dunno why i’m going French all of a sudden…..guess it relates to the desire for my climbing style to ‘go French’ instead of the pissed sloth it currently resembles?) for being up at Kendal was two-fold……firstly to watch Dave’s new film and secondly to party like it was 1999 (cos i missed out last time). The party arrived in the form of Monsieur (there we go again) Ullrich’s barn shindig on the Friday night. Bought myself a bottle of rum (breakfast of champions) and got involved…….along with the 30+ Bangor uni students and 20+ locals of course! I fell asleep in some hay and had to get up at 8am to catch the first big screen showing of CIWYW. Not recommended. End of story.

I think i’m right in saying that everyone on the back row in the Theatre at the Kendal Brewery Centre at 9am Saturday morning was pissed. For legal reasons i should say that the drivers who got us all there from George’s barn 3 miles away were sober…..though i wouldn’t believe me if i were you. Anywho the film went down very well in front of a packed venue, with people laughing in the right places and all that jazz.

There was a party on Saturday night as there always is but no-one could really be arsed so Sunday was spent in rare sobriety. The film awards came and went, Birkett was pissed, Bonnington was posh etc., with not much in the way of surprises i.e. surprise surprise Al Lee – darling of the festival – won Best Climbing Film and the hoop-lickingly titled ‘Grand Prize’ for his, frankly, mediocre (in view of some of the other films out there) ‘Onsight’ and surprise surprise a film undeserving of the accolade won the People’s Choice award. Now i was going to go into a rant about this last point but i’ll cut it down to a simple observation that maybe the people working for the KMFF (who coincidentally part-sponsored and part-funded the winning “People’s Choice”) might want to buy new calculators cos their counting skills are shit.

If you read the last post about Onsight not being as good as everyone else seems to think and you actually agree (worse things have happened) then that may mean we have similar tastes and we should probably go out on a date and see where it takes us……alternatively you might find the following short reviews interesting/helpful:

The Sharp End – AWESOME, granted it sometimes needs to be taken with a pinch of salt cos it’s pretty darned, rootin’ tootin’ American but the footage is incredible, the characters are INSANE and Pete Mortimer (the film bloke) is enthusiasm personified.

Seasons – my personal favourite film here (sorry Dave) that i’d been looking forward to since Mallorca (in fact i’m sure it kept me sane for a good portion of the day while the sun hunted for us). It’s just incredibly innovative, well shot and even though i’m not a mountain biker…..AT ALL… really made me want to go out and steal a bike from Kendal town centre and throw myself off things whilst going really fast. In a word….SICK!!!!!

Temple in the Clouds – a budget handycam movie about two spiritual types paragliding about the Himalayan foothills on a pilgramage to a, wait for it, temple in the clouds. Not usually what i’d go for but this was brilliant, captured the spirit of life perfectly (if i can be so bold as to make such a statement!).

Call it what you want – the REAL People’s Choice by a long way. Dave and Neil’s first film and i know it won’t be their last. A very humble film that asks a lot of questions about why we climb and whether ethics (like onsighting, headpointing etc) really matter to the conclusion that no, of course they don’t. Has been known to reduce one viewer to tears……wah wah wah! Really well shot and edited with stacks of wads giving their views as well as PROPER tension in some scenes. Inspiring? Qui! (Pic stolen from Neil Gill at

Grit Kids – another film that never even got a mention at the awards but was just miles above some of the winners. Part of Hot Aches ‘Committed Vol.2’. Follows the Whittaker kids doing circus tricks on grit routes. Best climbing sequence i think i’ve ever seen with Pete Whittaker making the first ascent of Dynamics of Change (E9 7a) at Burbage facing ACTUAL death.

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