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NZ Mountain Film And Book Festival An Online Success

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival enjoyed many sold-out live shows this past weekend; however, its largest venue, the online cinema, is still screening the films nationally. The festival is on sale from 26 June to 5 July online with until July 26 to watch. The online option emerged through contingency planning during Covid. The virtual option has proven to be a huge success as it has provided a solution for loyal festival fans, who were not able to travel this year, to continue to watch the films and speakers and still enjoy being part of the festival. The online festival also introduces new audiences to this, the 18th annual event.

Festival organisers estimated that over 3,000 people were watching the festival online over the weekend, with 786 household licences sold already. Mark Sedon, Festival Director says, “Typically 50% of our festival audience travel to Wanaka to enjoy the event. Given the circumstances we wanted to make sure the festival was still accessible to those who could not attend this year. Our goal was to fill as many seats as possible across Wanaka and Queenstown, as well as open the online viewing up nationwide. Many of those who attended also purchased online festival passes to make sure they did not miss a show and it has proven to be the right approach for this year.”

The festival is run by a Charitable Trust and the objective for this year was to guarantee the screening of the world class adventure films entered in the Mountain Film Competition. The Trust reshaped the event to ensure it would be in a good financial position to hold the 2021 event. Support from local grant schemes, local council and $10,000 from loyal festival supporters helped to provide the operational costs for this year’s event and secured its place on next year’s event calendar. Many sponsors continued their financial support despite the reduced event. The reworked scenario places the Charitable Trust event in a good position for the 2021 event. Sedon says, “We were incredibly humbled to have received such strong financial support from long-time festival goers, funders and sponsors. We are in a good position for next year’s event. A huge thanks to all of our patrons and supporters.”

NZ filmmaking featured highly in this year’s event as lockdown provided ideal editing and finishing time, resulting in an increase in New Zealand submissions. The Trust recognises the opportunity to support the development of Kiwi adventure filmmaking and to encourage new entries it has more than doubled the prize money for the Best NZ Made Film to $2,500 for 2021. The announcement was made at the Pure NZ film session, much to the Kiwi filmmakers’ delight. A Grass Roots Award, with $500 prize money, will also be on offer to encourage low-budget, beginner filmmakers to have a go at making and submitting a film.

The 2020 Grand Prize of $500 USD went to the film Lhotse by US Director Dutch Simpson. The planets aligned for ski mountaineers Hilaree Nelson and Jim Morrison when they made history by becoming the first to ski off the 8,516m summit of Lhotse, the fourth-highest mountain in the world. This film is their story of the challenges climbing at 8,000 metres, and facing avalanches, the Khumbu Icefall, instability and low visibility conditions. They were accompanied by five Sherpa and two filmmakers to capture this epic tale. Exceptional cinematography captured the size and scale of the mission and quality editing impressed the panel of 8 festival judges. Mark Sedon (Chief Judge) said “Being a keen ski mountaineer and having seen the Lhotse Couloir up close in 2007 when I was climbing nearby Mt Everest, this film just ticked all the boxes for me with adventure, risk and reward. The film making told the story with passion and respect for the local Sherpa. The filming, editing and sound finished off a worthy award winner.”

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival tours nationally in smaller cinemas throughout the country. Hosts in regions around the country choose a programme that reflects the interests of their local audiences from a selection of films on adventure, culture, environment and action sports. The Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ also sponsor a schools programme. Their sponsorship covers the cost for any school to apply for a DVD of a selection of the award winning films to be shown at the school within school hours.

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival 2020 speaker presentations are available for free on the festival website and tickets are still on sale for the online event until 5 July.

About the New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival 2020 live events ran in Wanaka and Queenstown from 26 to 28 June. Online events will run from 26 June to 5 July. The event is a celebration of adventurous sports and lifestyles presented for adventurers, film and book enthusiasts and armchair adventurers.

The NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival is a member of the International Alliance of Mountain Film, hosting speakers, a world-class line-up of films, and a broad range of literary events, all celebrating adventurous sports and lifestyles.

The festival holds an international adventure filmmaking competition that receives submissions from filmmakers from all over the world. The finalists make up the festival programme, screened both off- and on-line. The standard is exceptionally high and the event sits on the world stage alongside other well-known events.

The Mountain Book competition champions the theme of ‘adventure sports and lifestyles’. Written work is submitted in a range of categories to win prize money and compete for the NZ Mountain Book of the Year. The Mountain Book event also features author readings, old-fashioned storytelling, writing workshops and children’s events.

From off-the-cuff storytelling to highly crafted film-making and written works, all events celebrate the love of adventure and the outdoors, the environment and foreign cultures. The festival line-up includes world-famous speakers, a packed programme of adventure, cultural and environmental films and a free youth programme.

The festival programme is available online and tickets can be purchased from June 1 at


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