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NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival - Adventure for a Cause

NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival - Adventure for a Cause

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival will continue to deliver world-class speakers and adventurers to the stage in 2017. Often the motivation behind undertaking dangerous or challenging expeditions is not immediately apparent. This year two festival speakers will reveal the impetus behind their journeys and what drives them to capture and express indescribable moments on film for audiences worldwide.

After 15 years of screening adventure films and hosting world-renowned adventurers, the festival audiences continue to connect most strongly with content that bears a cause beyond adventure for adventure’s sake. Talented Kiwi storytellers Mal Law and Simon Lucas represent this contingent of thoughtful, creative and courageous filmmakers able to balance adventure and art on the big screen.

In February 2017 New Zealander Simon Lucas and three other Kiwi explorers were selected by the Antarctic Heritage Trust as members of the Inspiring Explorers' 2017 team to travel to the Antarctic Peninsula to attempt a guided ascent of Mount Scott. Their mission was to honour the legacy of the early polar explorers and celebrate the spirit of exploration. Mount Scott is named after Captain Robert Falcon Scott and is an 880m high peak. Simon comments, “The aim is to inspire exploration and interest for Antarctica in the next generation, because what’s the point in preserving the legacy of the heroic explorers, if the next generation loses its connection to the continent.”

Simon’s talk will offer an insight into the mission and why the four members on the expedition seek exploration and lead adventurous lives. He will talk about the challenges faced and how they overcame them and how the attained skills and mind-set transfer into everyday life. Simon will delve into the filmmaking process and the challenges and benefits of being a one-man operation as cameraman, director and editor.

Simon won the NZ Mountain Film Festival Best NZ Film Hiddleston/MacQueen Award in 2016 for his debut film ‘Paddle for the North’. Simon continues to brilliantly blend his passion for adventure, conservation and filmmaking with his latest project. Simon’s film ‘Mt Scott’ will be played as a world premier at the festival. His talk will show some additional footage not seen in the film and his presentation will conclude with a Q and A session.

From early childhood Mal Law (NZ) devoured stories of great adventurers and explorers. He fulfilled a dream of his own when he ran New Zealand’s seven mainland Great Walks back to back in just seven days raising a serious amount of money for a charity close to his heart, Leukemia & Blood Cancer NZ, because as a nine-year-old he had lost his older brother to this cruel disease.

Next mission on the list was to run 50 mountain marathons and climb 50 peaks in just 50 days – The High Five O Challenge. Mal completed the mission on behalf of the Mental Health Foundation of NZ, with more than 300 support runners signed up to join him for a day or so each. The challenge raised a staggering $510,000 for the charity and was instrumental in helping reduce the stigma around the topic of mental health.

Hear from this exceptional Wanaka local about his experience preparing for and running the High Five-0 Challenge, as well as stories behind the making of his award-winning film ‘FIFTY’. Physically, not everything went to plan, with injury, illness and weather forcing the shortening of some days. But 50 peaks were climbed on 50 consecutive days and the equivalent of 40 rough, tough off-road marathons were achieved.

Laurence Fearnley is an award-winning novelist and non-fiction writer; she will be delivering a writing workshop at the festival this year. Her storylines weave together insight into the human condition with our spiritual connection to the land. A Kiwi voice is prominent, as the tales of New Zealand history and spirit unfold. Laurence’s love of adventure shines through her stunning literary back catalogue. Her novels have been staged from Central Otago, Fairlie, Mount Cook, Southland and in generic rural small town New Zealand.

Laurence has been awarded the NZ Post Fiction Award for her novel ‘The Hut Builder’. The novel was also shortlisted for the international 2010 Boardman Tasker Prize for mountain writing. ‘Edwin and Matilda’ (2007) was runner-up in the fiction category of the 2008 Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Her novel, ‘Room’, was shortlisted for the Montana Book Awards in 2001. Laurence has also completed a Robert Burns Fellowship at the University of Otago. In 2003 she became an Antarctic Arts Fellow in the Artists to Antarctica programme.

Her half-day writing workshop invites aspiring writers, of all genres, to discover how to craft a storyline, develop structure and sharpen overall writing skills for fun or to publish.

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival received 182 film submissions this year, this constitutes more than 20% increase in entries. The volume of films has not diluted the quality. Mark Sedon, the Festival Director, reasons the growing international reputation of the festival is responsible for the surge in growth. He says, “It seems the reasons for the exponential growth are twofold: the global profile of our event is increasing, as well as the rise in the number of films being made due to accessibility and affordability of quality equipment. At the heart of it this means we will continue to have high calibre content for the festival with access to world-class speakers looking to promote their films.”

The festival programme will be announced when tickets go on sale on 1 June. The 2017 festival begins in Wanaka on Friday 30 June and in Queenstown on Thursday 6 July.

• Film Festival Wanaka 30 June to 4 July

• Film Festival Cromwell 5 July

• Film & Book Festival Queenstown 6 to 8 July

• Book Festival Wanaka 7 to 9 July


About the New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival

The 15th NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival will run from 30 June to 9 July in Wanaka, Cromwell and Queenstown. The event will host international and NZ speakers, a world-class line up of films, and a broad range of literary events all honouring adventurous sports and lifestyles. From off-the-cuff storytelling to highly crafted filmmaking and written works, all events champion the love of adventure and the outdoors, the environment and foreign cultures.

The festival holds an international adventure filmmaking competition that receives submissions from filmmakers from all corners of the globe. The finalists make up the festival programme screened in Lake Wanaka Centre and Queenstown Events Centre. The standard is exceptionally high and the event sits on the world stage alongside the well known Banff and Kendal Mountain Film Festivals.

The addition of the Mountain Book competition has broadened the scope to illuminate the theme of ‘adventure sports and lifestyles’. Written work can be submitted under a range of categories to win prize money and go in contention for the Grand Prize. The Mountain Book event also features author readings, old fashion storytelling, writing workshops and children’s events.

The festival line-up includes world famous speakers, a packed programme of adventure, cultural and environmental films, informal storytelling, workshops, author readings, an adventure trade show and a free youth programme.

The festival programme will be announced when tickets go on sale on 1 June. The 2017 festival begins in Wanaka on Friday 30 June and in Queenstown on Thursday 6 July.

More details can be found online at

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