The world-famous Kendal Mountain Festival is going online this year, in a huge way. The team behind the event have been pouring their energy into making this their best event yet. Expect stories about people from all walks of life doing extraordinary things, guest speakers, live events, a literature festival, and lots more. The festival starts today and runs until 29 November; content can be watched on-demand until 31 December.
KMF's Artistic Director, Claire-Jane Carter, sounds tired but excited when I call. The team are busy recording specialist sessions for the festival, such as the literature talks - "Five of those will be recorded per day this week!" Claire has scheduled her time into 15-minute intervals in order to keep on top of it all. I am lucky to have bagged two slots in which to find out how this online thing is going to work, plus Claire's pick of films from the bursting program.
"The theme 'nurture' has ended up guiding quite a lot of the content at Kendal this year, I find out. Considering different forms of leadership, for example, and the symbiotic relationship between nature and nurture. The films that are available to watch during the festival are divided into themed collections, and two of Claire's favourite collections are Nature and Nurture 1 and 2: upbeat and beautiful nature stories with an enviromental theme.
A Time to Remember film
Another of Claire's favourite film collections is Outside Thinkers, which, this year, has the theme 'play': "There’s a really good film called No Ball Games, which is about how 'working class' children play; considering the different kinds of 'outdoors' children have," she says, and also recommends Hamama and Caluna, a film about two teen refugees who hope to escape across an alpine pass - a familiar environment to BMC readers, seen in a different way.
It has been a lot of work, but the team have found benefits to going digital. It has allowed them to access speakers who wouldn’t have been able to get to Kendal, for example, and allowed them to show more feature-length films. "The Literature Festival is also going to be awesome this year," enthuses Claire, "Robert Macfarlane, The Salt Path... I genuinely think this is the best year we’ve had."
There is 20% of all KMF tickets for BMC members and don’t forget to tune in for the BMC Breakfast Club with Niall Grimes.
In fact, this year isn’t just a one-off: it’s the launch of KMF’s brand-new venture: while the flesh and bone festival will hopefully be back next year, the digital platform is here to stay. The plan is to present carefully-curated, exciting and inspirational content, which is available year-round.
This year's line up
Tune into talks given by world-class international athletes, adventurers, authors and filmmakers, including Ray Mears, C4 journalist Keme Nzerem, Rhiane Fatinikun (the founder of Black Girls Hike UK), Jason Fox from SAS Who Dares Wins, plus Aldo Kane and Leo Houlding.
At the core of the event is the International Film Competition, with 12 major film prizes up for grabs, including the sought-after People’s Choice award voted for by the public. The Festival has received a record number of entries this year, from professional and amateur filmmakers alike.
Meet writers, authors, poets and artists in a programme that includes highly anticipated book launches, lively debates and lectures: speakers include Jessica J. Lee, author of Willow Herb and First Native American US Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.
There will also be a series of events that viewers can join in with on specific days, including a 10k virtual run and a global Litter Pick.
WATCH It's Only Weather, Kendal Mountain Festival Trailer
Claire's pick of films
From feature-length to shorts.
Wall of Shadows - an absolutely beautiful, epic, classic mountain film with a sensitive, authentic story at the heart of it.
Breathtaking: K2 - A sort of Cliffhanger for 2020, there are helicopters, deaths, and, at the heart of it, an amazing mountain story.
There will also be a brand new million-dollar, secret film by Renan Ozturk, which is about Irvine and Mallory, and about the state of Everest now - definitely watch that.
Piano to Zanskar - This one is about a man taking a piano to a Himalayan village - beautiful and funny and English, definitely a highlight film.
Lockdown Rock Up - One of the most amazing short films about climbing that I’ve ever seen. It’s about the experience of being a paramedic during the pandemic and how climbing helped.
Loic and the Flolopapys - This is a fun one is about what it's like to be a young sport climbing enthusiast whose really into climbing. I'd say it's probably going to win a prize.
Caries - An amazing film about the repurposing of a marble quarry. Visually one of the most stunning films I’ve ever seen and interesting to consider how climbing can repurpose lost industrial sites.
Free As Can Be - About a young climber taking an ex-wad in his 60s to free El Cap - a really feel-good film.
That’s Wild - Touching film about a group of young Atlantan Americans from different backgrounds being taken walking for the first time.
Love, Trains and Dinosaurs - This one is about an autistic boy who goes hiking - really beautiful.
The White Fox - A Leeds bouncer who takes up hiking - just brilliant - very BMC.
Kiss the Ground - This documentary reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilise Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies.
Running the Roof - Banging upbeat action running film featuring three young Brits who decide to go Tajikistan and run a marathon every day - I was laughing all the way through.
The Cull - A really clever film about rewilding Scotland. Very gripping and surprising, it won at Banff.
Venture Out - Amazing film about young LGBQT and trans people being brought together and going hiking.
How to watch
Go the festival website, make a purchase, then log-in with your email and password to watch films and talks. You can watch these on demand, 24/7, from 19 November until 31 December. Certain extra events, such as daily Live Shows, can be watched at specific times. The day after they are broadcast, these Live Shows will also be available to watch on demand.
The festival viewing platform is compatible with both Google Chromecast and Apple Airplay, so you can stream straight to many compatible smart TVs. If your smart TV or games console has a web browser you can also access the platform direct via the festival's website. Or go old school and connect your laptop to the big screen via a HDMI cable!
Prices and where to get tickets
Ticket prices begin at £5.50 for a single pass; it's £37.50 for a film or literature pass; and £96 for full festival access. Available from: www.kendalmountainfestival.com
WIN A FULL FESTIVAL PASS ON INSTAGRAM
BMC TV Breakfast Club
This year, we’re streaming BMC TV Breakfast Club live from the Brewery Arts Centre. Join us at 11.30 on Sunday 22 November when Niall Grimes – climber, storyteller and mischiefmaker – will host this unique event as part of Kendal Mountain Festival.
The line-up is a shared celebration of making it through over 200 days of Lockdown together. We’ve got some never-seen-before films, some great dial-in guests and, of course, some epic prizes. Highlights include:
Steve McClure reveals his home training secrets
The latest incredible adventures of blind climber Jesse Dufton
BMC president Lynn Robinson presents this year’s BMC TV Women in Adventure winner
Special guests with live interviews
Get involved with live chat
Fantastic prizes from our partner Montane
We want to say a big thanks to every BMC member who continues to support us through the Coronavirus crisis.
From weekly Facebook Lives and GB Climbing home training videos, to our access team working to re-open the crags and fight for your mountain access, we couldn’t do it without you.
Did you know that we've launched a U27 membership offer for just £1.50 / month? And with full membership from £2.50 / month, it's never been easier to join and support our work: