News | Kendal Mountain Festival Winners Announced - Outdoors Magic

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News | Kendal Mountain Festival Winners Announced

Here are the winners from the film festival and where to watch them

The Kendal Mountain Festival returned this weekend for the first physical festival since the pandemic put a halt to in-person events. And, it’s fair to say, the KMF team brought the event back to an epic scale, with thousands descending on the Lake District to catch their favourite films, speakers and athletes from all around the world of mountain culture.

Known as the ‘Oscars of mountain film’, the festival featured some 418 entries this year and tasked with the unenvious job of whittling these films down were a jury of five judges that included Keme Nzerem (head of screenwriting at the London Film School), Jonathan Hourigan (XC Mountain bike racer), Lee Craigie (adventurer and outdoor film maker), Christophe Raylat (Chamonix Film Festival founder) and Katie Moore (documentary filmmaker).

Photo: Kendal Mountain Festival

Commenting on the selected winners, Jury Chair, Keme Nzerem reflected on the quickly changing world of adventure and action sports: “After a year and a half of our horizons being so shrunk by the pandemic, at last we are back watching films in person and this years’ stories ask profound questions about not only what being outdoors does for our souls, but equally who owns and ‘belongs’ in outdoor sport and adventure.

Movement was the theme of Kendal, and we saw movement being explored in so many ways: athletic movement, social movements, emotional movement. We were blown away by the quality of the films we watched, and we’re really excited to share the winners.”

So here goes. Here’s the winners of the festival, and where you can catch them online. It’s also worth noting that the Kendal Mountain Player is back by popular demand, following last years’ online-only festival. So, if you didn’t manage to catch the festival in person, you can head over to the player and catch over 100 hours of content including festival catch-ups and many of the award-winning films.

Grand Prize: Torn

Director: Max Lowe
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘On Oct. 5, 1999, legendary climber Alex Lowe was tragically lost in a deadly avalanche on the Himalayan peak, Mount Shishapangma.

‘Miraculously surviving the avalanche was Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, the renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker who went on to marry Alex’s widow and help raise his three sons. 

‘From filmmaker, photographer and National Geographic Explorer Max Lowe, Torn turns the lens on his own family, as the body of his father is uncovered 17 years after his death.

‘A profoundly intimate look at the Lowe-Anker family, Max captures their intense personal journey toward understanding Alex as a man, not a myth and the emotionally and physically harrowing trek to Shishapangma, where they will finally put him to rest.’

Best Creative: Freedom Swimmer

Director: Olivia Martin-McGuire
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘Swimmer tells the story of a father’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution.’


Best Short: Totally Alone

Director: Rufus Exton, Steve Bliss
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘A man discusses the impact of Covid 19 lockdown restrictions on his mental health.’

Best Environmental: Eve

Director: Joya Berrow & Lucy Jane
Watch Here: Full film embedded above & Kendal Mountain Player

‘Eve, is an intimate story of a 9 year old girl called Eve, living in one of the oldest off grid communities in the UK. Following her journey returning to school and becoming a young climate activist. Her story encapsulates the human complexity of navigating the environmental crisis and what moving to live off grid really means for a UK family.’

Best Adventure and Exploration: After Antarctica

Director: Tasha Van Zandt
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘After Antarctica follows polar explorer Will Steger’s life journey as an eyewitness to the greatest changes in the polar regions of our planet. After a lifetime of landmark expeditions across both poles, no one alive has seen more of the polar world.’

Best Mountain: The Alpinist

Director: Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen
Watch Here: Amazon Prime Video

‘As the sport of climbing turns from a niche pursuit to mainstream media event, Marc-André Leclerc climbs alone, far from the limelight. On remote alpine faces, the free-spirited 23-year-old makes some of the boldest solo ascents in history. Yet, he draws scant attention.

‘With no cameras, no rope, and no margin for error, Marc-André’s approach is the essence of solo adventure. Intrigued by these quiet accomplishments, veteran filmmaker Peter Mortimer (The Dawn Wall) sets out to make a film about Marc-André.

‘The Alpinist is an intimate documentary of a visionary climber who follows the path of his own passion, despite the heaviest of possible consequences.’

Best Sport: Stormskater

Director: Guen Murroni
Watch Here: Full film embedded above & Kendal Mountain Player

‘Meet Stormskater – a London based roller-skater who started skating by picking up tips and techniques from other skaters in different spots in the city. Now, she’s one of the most well known skaters in the UK. She gives us insight into the increasingly popular sport and its community, its relevance around appropriation, ownership, authenticity and the fundamental need for space.’

Best Climbing: They/Them

Directors: Blake McCord, Justin Clifton
Watch Here: Full film embedded above & Kendal Mountain Player

‘For Lor Sabourin, climbing is more than a sport; it’s a way of exploring identity and building resilience in the face of adversity. They/Them follows Lor, a trans climber, into the sandstone canyons of northern Arizona, on a journey to piece together one of the hardest and most inspiring routes of their life.

‘By embracing the strength in vulnerability, Lor has found the space to thrive and build a climbing community that others like themselves can call home.

Best Community & Culture: The Last English Poacher

Directors: Emma Crome, Peter Emery
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘Brian Tovey may be the last traditional poacher in England, the closest thing the country might have to an indigenous person living off the land. An antihero of conservation and nature, Brian’s outlook is anti-establishment and his way of life is almost off-grid, tucked away in a village on the edge of the English Cotswolds.

‘He roams his surrounding fields and woods illegally hunting for game on private estates belonging to the big land-owners – Earls, Lords, Duchesses and farmers, an almost ethereal existence that clings to the age-old conflict between common and forest Law.

“The Last English Poacher’ is an elegy to England’s changing rural communities, and our diminishing connection to the land. What can we learn from an outcast? A man who doesn’t love the animals he kills for food, but respects them and knows them better than most.’

Changemaker: Soul Deep

Director: Dominic Gill
Watch Here: Full film embedded above & Kendal Mountain Player

‘Soul Deep is a look inside a burgeoning rock climbing movement of inner-city African Americans taking up the sport and making it their own.’

Judges’ Special: Horse Tamer

Director: Hamid Sardar
Watch Here: Kendal Mountain Player

‘In the Darhat valley in northern Mongolia, the horses of nomadic tribes are disappearing. Bandits steal horses from their owners, and sell them for a few rubles in Russian slaughterhouses. 

‘But Shukhert, a vigilante Darhat horseman, pursues them relentlessly, all the way to the edge of Mongolian taiga, on the border with Siberia.

‘Documenting the lifestyle of the last nomads for over ten years, director and ethnographer Hamid Sardar is this year, invited to follow Shukhert on his eternal journey. Between tribal rivalries, smuggling and gold searching, Hamid wonders what horse stealing means in Mongolia today.’

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