Outdoor Kiwi Filmmakers Flourish

NZ Mountain Film Festival

The 18threceived a high number of submissions to the Adventure Film Making competition from New Zealand filmmakers. The quality of film making and adventures has increased exponentially since the festival’s inception in 2002.

The Wanaka Mountain Slide Festival, as it was known, consisted of adventurers telling their tales and showing their adventure slides. When one speaker flying in from Wellington was delayed by fog, local adventurer Guy Cotter loaned a DVD and irreversibly changed the fate of the festival. In 2009 the films became digital, making for better streamlined starts and reliable playback of films. Before this, Festival Director Mark Sedon would introduce the films, then duck behind the curtain and play the film on VHS or DVD.

Kiwi adventure filmmaking has developed over the 18 years of the festival. Ubiquitous growth in digital technology and the opportunity to submit films to and attend the NZ Mountain Film Festival has nurtured burgeoning talent within NZ in general and Wanaka in particular. This year the festival received 24 NZ-made films, with 12 being selected as finalists. Those 12 filmmakers will descend on Wanaka during festival weekend to introduce their films, rub shoulders with other film makers and become further inspired by watching the world-class line-up on offer.

Sedon says, “It is satisfying to watch the calibre and number of Kiwi submissions increase. We bat way above our weight globally in both our adventure mindset and creativity in capturing it on film. It seems Kiwis have all the right ingredients to make epic films; they can make adventures out of the simplest things. We see talent emerging from our local Wanaka and Queenstown film makers who explore our own backyard: The Remarkables, the Matukituki Valley and some of the hidden places in the Lakes region. We added a Pure NZ session a few years back to highlight the talent coming through and it is one of our most popular shows.”

The festival opening night features Skirr, by Director and filmmaker David Walden from Lake Hawea. ‘Skirr’ means to fly or skim rapidly over a surface, usually with a whirring sound, like birds. The film takes viewers on a high-speed ride with two wingsuiters down some local mountains, just metres off the deck at 200kph. Nat Warburton presents his film 19. With no adventure activities permitted during lockdown, 13-year-old Warburton headed out to capture time lapses in the local Wanaka surroundings. Jack Ewing brings Doma to the screen; the film follows a two-month bike trip, cycling from Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan along the ancient Silk Road route.

The Pure NZ session features a Queenstown filmmaker, Guillaume Charton. His film (re)Discovering Remarkables follows two local Queenstown climbers who are on a quest to re-visit their local mountains, The Remarkables, via two different challenges, both of which could be seen as firsts: traversing the 12km-long ridgeline, and climbing 1000m of rock routes in three different valleys. The adventure is a look at the exploration available in Queenstown’s own backyard and an insight into what some locals quietly get up to at the weekend.


Local Queenstown Director Tom Woodward’s stunning film Building a $12MD Bike Trail; The Pike 29 Track showcases the effort that went into the mighty 3-year project. The Pike 29 Memorial Track passes through the rugged and storm-battered mountains of the West Coast and was built to honour the 29 men killed in the Pike River Mine disaster. The bike track cost $12 million dollars and Woodward eloquently tells the story of the track’s construction.


The World Premier of Olivine by filmmaker Patrick Clissold follows three women who were given a grant by the Federated Mountain Clubs to carry out a traverse of the Olivine Range.

Pro skier Janina Kuzma will introduce her film, Peace Mountain. The film follows her trip to ski Mount Hermon, a mountain range situated on the border between Israel, Lebanon and Syria. Deanne Parker will introduce his film Forgotten Highways. This film won a Special Jury Award and it is a journey of discovery of both Māori culture and exploring new country in the Whanganui District by a group of mates. The trip follows the river by packraft and trails both old and new by mountain biking, to link up a story of history and adventure.

The Hiddleston/MacQueen Best NZ Film goes to Wanaka local Richard Sidey for his film The KFC. The beautiful film follows five New Zealanders as they take on a paragliding adventure in Tanzania, with the ultimate aim of flying from the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world; the altitude change from the top to the bottom makes it the biggest glide it’s possible to do on the planet. Stunning imagery, experiencing a new culture, adventure and camaraderie make this a quintessential Kiwi tale.

Tickets and the full festival programme are available at mountainfilm.nz

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