Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival review

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Stevie Christie - 03/11/2003

It was the first Tiso-sponsored Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival - but it won't be the last.

After Paul Raistrick's film, "Pushing Winter", was announced as the deserving and popular winner of the 'Best Film Award', many people seemed reluctant to leave the cosy atmosphere of the Caledonian Brewery, opting instead for a last look at the photography of Cubby and Nick Williams that was so striking and emotive, or simply ordering another drink from the bar. There was a definite buzz in the air though, a feeling of 'let's go play!'

The 500+ people who managed to get tickets for the sell-out two night festival were treated to ten short films and two lectures. They also had to find time to check out the poetry display by co-sponsors the John Muir Trust, the video wall with footage from the Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup event, as well as the stunning photography displays. And they were responsible for choosing the Best Film.

The films were a mix of high and low budget, international and Scottish made movies focussing on skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, white water kayaking, rock-climbing and 'dog-climbing' you should have seen that puppy on the crux!

With a blend of cutting edge action, humour and more thoughtful look at why we are drawn to the mountains, the films were accessible to all, exciting and inspiring. Having many of the film producers in attendance to introduce their films gave the audience further insight into what drives these individuals to push themselves to the limit in their chosen sport.

The guest speakers each evening were climbers with very different tales to tell. Scott Muir gave a lively and passionate lecture introducing the audience to the new discipline of 'dry-tooling', using ice axes and crampons to climb dry rock.

"Despite what it sounds like", said Scott, "it does not require lubrication, although it can be painful."

When his short film cut to footage of a naked ice climber though, we were beginning to wonder! Still it gives "The Naked Rambler" something to look up to?!

Jamie Andrew's presentation could not have been more different. Documenting his horrific Alpine ordeal which led to the amputation of both his hands and feet, through his recovery to his future goals (he is about to lead an all-disabled unsupported expedition up Kilimanjaro - the hard way), Jamie told his story with great dignity, humour and style.

"I don't often compare myself to a Greek God", he quipped as a slide of the handless and footless statue of Dionysus was projected.

"But this is what they did to me. I am the lucky one though. My climbing partner died. I am alive."

The audience was captivated, perhaps slightly humbled by his positive attitude but also, hopefully, inspired by it.

As the last of the audience left, they threw some coins into the collection cans for the Mountain Rescue Committee for Scotland. Over £660 was raised over the two nights, mostly through the raffle and thanks are due to all those who donated prizes (Tiso, John Muir Trust, Pocket Mountains, Nevis Range, Caledonian Events) and those who bought tickets.

Planning for next year's festival has already started. The EMFF website has details of a photography competition and also information on how to submit a film. But whether you are a film producer, a photographer or simply an enthusiast, the message is clear. Get out there. Go play.

Further details on the EMFF are available at http://www.edinburghmountainff.com

The Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival 2003 was presented in association with Tiso - The Outdoor Specialist. It was sponsored by the John Muir Trust, High Mountain Sports Magazine and Caledonian Events.

Photographs from the festival and further information are available by contacting Steve Christie or calling 07919 818 901

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