Congratulations to the winners of the 2023 BMC Women in Adventure film competition! Watch the amazing winning films plus all the ones entered this year
This year the 2023 Award Winners were announced for the first time at Kendal Mountain Festival.
The screening brought together many of the talented filmmakers and adventurers who entered their films this year. For many of the filmmakers, it was a chance to see their films up on the big screen for the first time. As each award was announced, the filmmakers and stars were invited up on stage to join hosts Molly Thompson-Smith and Em Lyons and share exclusive insight into the behind the scenes of their films. As an accessible screening, we also had two BSL interpreters and ensured that all films that were screened had captions.
With both the quality and quantity of the submitted films being at an all-time high, each year the competition becomes tougher for our judges to choose the winners of the five awards. So, did your favourites win? You can watch them all on our BMC Women in Adventure Films playlist. Here are the deserving winners:
Best Film Award
Destiny of a Sherpa Woman - Yangji by Louise Thaller and Stanislas Giroux and featuring Yangji Lakpa Sherpa
Step by step. To the rhythm of Yangji's sure and steady pace, we walk through her life journey, as she returns after many years of absence to the poor village in the Everest region where she grew up. She turned her back on the mountain as a teenager in the hope of escaping the misery that reigns in the valley of her childhood, never thinking she would come back, and even less so with the title of mountain guide. This portrait is part of a series entitled 'Altitudes' which explores the many facets of the relationship between humans and mountain across the world and cultures.
Director Louise Thaller said “Yangji was super happy about this project because she does want to be an ambassador for the cause of women in Nepal. Our small expedition team was the only one that was 100% female-led, which actually surprised a lot of the other Sherpas and guides that we crossed along the way. Yangji is truly and inspiring leader in Nepal and she does everything she can to promote women in leadership and also porter roles. We are so humbled to have met her and that she trusted us with her very personal story. She is still running her own expeditions with her own agency which is called Reve de Nepal.”
(Select CC for English Subtitles)
Best Professional Award
Morag (from the Berghaus Ascension Series) by Coldhouse featuring Morag Skelton
Morag Skelton believes that nothing should come between anyone and getting out there in nature. As a deaf climber constantly pushing the limits of possible, she lives that belief. The Ascension Series explores stories of people pushing through barriers to define themselves in the great outdoors. Part two features Morag Skelton who doesn’t let being deaf limit what’s possible on the mountainside.
Star of the film Morag Skelton said: "@mattpycroft reached out to me nearly two years ago and asked if I would be keen to tell my story, I look back now and I’m very grateful he did otherwise none of this would have happened. I am definitely noticing the changes, outdoors films are becoming more accessible for everyone and the discussion has got me thinking how to make the outdoors more accessible. Looking forward to seeing what happens in the future for the deaf community."
Runner Up Award
We all know the word gossip. However, it didn’t always hold the negative connotation that it does now. Thinking about women and coming together and how important this is for our overall well being, this short film explores the origins and history of the word Gossip.
Ellie Green Filmmaker said: 'I've wanted to contribute to a wider conversation about women, especially women in adventure, for a while without doing much about it, so when Em approached me with this idea, I jumped at the chance to collaborate with this incredibly talented creative person. The added bonus was being able to challenge preconceived ideas that we have in society - for instance as Em discovered in this circumstance, the word 'Gossip' and the way in which it has been misinterpreted in our modern world. To be able to delve into a topic which supports a more inclusive and diverse narrative in film and sports is something we are both incredibly passionate about. The competition sums up everything I feel about women in the world of adventure - we're stronger together and the more we can support each other the stronger we can be as a community.' Em Lyons adds: 'I remember when this competition first launched and how it lit a very small spark it me. Over the years I have followed the competition, the films and the directors and how we have more women both behind and in front of the camera. To go from watching from afar to being a judge to being an Award Winner is an absolute life highlight. I would love to see a more diverse representation of women and our experiences in the world of adventure. If anyone has any questions or ideas or wants to chat, please do look me up!'
Make A Difference Award
Alterations by Emily Cooney & Rosanna Watson aka Snowdonia Gear Repair
As an outdoor gear repair specialist, Rosanna Watson expresses her view on the role women's clothing plays in encouraging female involvement in outdoor adventures. Witness how Rosanna and other women embrace the great outdoors while finding a sense of belonging through sports in the natural environment.
Filmmaker Emily Cooney said: "My film was actually inspired by this competition. I think it's a great way to get more women shown on the screen and behind the camera. Representation matters because it inspires others. When coming up with a concept for a documentary I reflect on what I want to learn more about: curiosity plays a big part in the filming process. Environmentally and economically it makes sense to mend and alter your clothes, and when it comes to outdoor sportswear I think there is room for a lot of alteration in women's clothing. This is how 'Alterations' came along. It's been a great learning process and I've come out greater for it. Not just because of the many people I have met through the competition and Kendal Mountain Film Festival but because, even if my film wasn't selected, I have also made a really good friend. "
Climate Action Award
On The Brink by Rosie Aldridge and Lucy Temple
How do young people cope with living and working in an environment on the brink of collapse? ‘On the Brink’ follows the story of two female protagonists, reflecting on their experience of living and working in the midst of the Alps (Bernese Oberland, Switzerland) for the summer. The film is closely attuned to the changing experience of the mountain environment in the wake of climate change. It aims to educate the audience on the fragilities and realities of the alpine ecosystem, leaving us to decide whether we are to be on the brink of collapse, or change.
Rosie Aldridge says: "The idea for 'On the Brink' came about this spring, having spent the summer of 2022 climbing/working in Bernese Oberland and seeing the effects of the massive heatwave. While we’ve grown up in the UK and see the effects of the climate crisis here, the Alps take this to a new scale and glaciers are some of the strongest signals of climate change. We hope that the documentary of our time out there in the summer of 2023 inspires more psyche for women in alpinism and mountaineering as a whole, and inspires people with a particular focus on the younger generation to get out, learn and care about the environments shown before they become too dangerous and are gone for good.
It feels incredible to win the Climate Action Award amongst some seriously brilliant films and professionals this year. We’re grateful to receive such great support from the BMC with this along with more hype for future filmmaking"
Judges Special Mention Award
Along for the Ride by Monet Adams featuring Vicky Balfour and Cece
Three cycling mothers take on bike packing the Rebellion Way with their 7-month old, 2-year old and 17-year old disabled child in tow to challenge the perception that adventures outdoors, personal challenges and mothership have to exist individually. This film follows the group as they learn the limits of their own legs and support each other through the highs and lows of being a mum and a bike rider.
Filmmaker Monet Adams said: 'We wanted to enter the BMC Women in Adventure competition because it seemed like a great outlet for us to allow the narrative and tone of the film to be completely authentic and true to that of the protagonists. I've watched all the other films and been really inspired. I was in complete awe of the varied stories and high level of creativity in the films. It's an exciting time for the industry in terms of women's inclusion, both in front of and behind the lens.
As someone who's grown up in cycling and seen the influx of female inclusion over the years, I'm definitely feeling a new found affinity with the content that's being given a platform that I didn't even realise I was missing.'
Judges Special Mention Award
Endurance by Rachel Davies
In September 2023, Rachel decided to travel the length of Wales - triathlon style! She cycled nearly 200 miles, swam the length of her childhood swim-spot, Llyn Tegid and then continued on foot for 80 miles. She wanted to test her endurance and see if she could find a way to cope when things got tough.
Filmmaker Rachel Davies said "Each year I watch so many films from different adventure film festivals, so I was really excited to have the opportunity to create and enter one of my own. I really wanted to create something that inspired people to get outside and try new things. I'm very much average when it comes to fitness and adventure, so I hoped that people watching my film would be able to relate and be encouraged to have an adventure of their own. I was really pleased to get Judges Special Mention. This was the first film I created so it really gave me a confidence boost to keep creating!"
The following films were shortlisted:
Any questions, feedback or ideas about the competition can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Listen now 🎧
Finding Our Way is the new BMC podcast where our guests are as diverse as the outdoors should be.
Hosted by BMC Hillwalking Ambassador and TV Broadcaster Mary-Ann Ochota and Expedition Leader and equity champion Cress Allwood, the podcasts aims to diversify the people we normally hear talking about the outdoors, celebrate their stories and shine a light on their insights.
Listen and subscribe on your favourite podcast apps: