Sunday, November 21, 2010

A great night for British films in Torello

Very quickly, because the Netbook is about to run out of power, all three British films screening at Torello won prizes last night! We won the Jury Prize, and The Asgard Project won the Grand Prize; Birdman of Karakoram also won its category. So I am now the proud possessor of a sculpted wooden mountain, which I'm hoping won't raise too many eyebrows at Customs later today!

Full report and photos when I get back tonight, or possibly tomorrow when I've recovered from the trip.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Torello Mountain Film Festival

Torello is the size of place where people look at you as you walk past in the street because they don't recognise you, and seems like a town that has seen better days. So my first feeling about the film festival was that it had been put together as one of those "hey, this place is run down, let's bung in some cultural event or other to try to perk it up." In fact, the festival has been running for 28 years, having been started by Joan Salarich and a small group of enthusiasts, and now, although it may not have the five venues and eight strands of Kendal, or the 1,000 seater cinema of Banff, can still pack out a cinema of 500 night after night. They also provide a very warm welcome and fabulous hospitality to their guests.

My first experience of the hospitality was on Thursday, when I met Rosa and Carmen; Carmen would be my interviewer and translator, I was told over dinner. Interviewer? I thought I was here to hop up on stage and say "thanks for coming to see the film, hope you like it", and hop off again. Oh no. After a chat about the film, I was taken into the cinema, and shown to my seat - not right by the stage, but half way back, so that when Carmen announced my name and the lights went up, I had to walk down the steps through the audience to loud applause, whoops and whistles (seriously - whoops and whistles - never had that before!). Then, on stage in front of about 550 people (not only was every seat taken, so were most of the steps and aisles with people perching or standing where they could), do an interview about the film, how we made it, what were the challenges, what is a line of flight, was it a pessimistic film, what is the relationship between the landscape and industry? And all of this was delivered in a running mix of English and Catalan by Carmen. Then back to my seat to watch the film which now had a Catalan voiceover, which made watching it a new experience.

Once the film was over, I was off duty, so since then I've watched a few more films, had a day out in Vic, watched more films, been to a reception, and will shortly be taken out for lunch in the mountains with all the other festival guests. Then tonight, it's the awards, closing ceremony, and another reception! See what I mean about great hospitality?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Torello Mountain Film Festival

I'm all packed and ready to go to Spain tomorrow morning, flying to Barcelona then being picked up to go to Torello and the Mountain Film Festival, where Lines of Flight screens tomorrow night. Hopefully I'll be able to get online and post some pictures and reports; I've been to Barceona before but not up towards the mountains.

Also kicking off tomorrow is Kendal Mountain Film Festival, where we premiered last year. Hopefully there won't be torrential rain and floods on the scale of last year. I'm looking forward to Martin's reports of what films to watch out for over the coming year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Just in case there's anybody out there reading this in Austria, "Lines of Flight" screens tonight at 7:30pm. Neither Martin nor I can be there to introduce the film, sadly, but hopefully I'll get some feedback from the organisers at some point. We've had big problems actually getting the film to them - first of all the discs disappeared in the post, then we had a big struggle getting a QuickTime file to their ftp server. But it all went through on Sunday so hopefully all systems are go for tonight.

Then next week it's Torello, Spain, and after that who knows? I met Alan Formanek at long last in Banff - he runs the Vancouver Mountain Film Festival, and also one in Bratislava in April, and asked us to put LoF in for that, so we might have a bit of a longer life.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Bookish couple of days

Today is my last full day in Banff (although I'm currently failing to check in online as I'm in a cafe and my passport is at the hotel. Oh well). The focus of yesterday and today has been books rather than films, with several talks from authors about their books - Alistair Lee was very funny; Gretel Ehrlich spoke powerfully about the changing situation in Greenland, and how climate change is directly and observably changing the landscape and the lives of local people there; Joe Riis and Emilene Ostlind did a great talk and slide show about the migration of Pronghorn deer. In the evening there was a reception for film-makers which was good, great food and wine in a very beautiful setting, where I learned the names of some of the mountains (thanks, Jamie) and gained a new ambition (18km ridge walk along Mount Rundle, anyone?).

Tonight there's a gala reception (not entirely sure what that will entail but I'm looking forward to it anyway) followed by a talk by Greg Mortenson of "Three Cups of Tea" and "Stones into Schools" fame which should be good. Then tomorrow, films and a couple of talks then home. Time has gone far too quickly.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Morning in Banff:

Fantastically beautiful blue sky day today, so had a walking and photographing day. More photos here on Flickr

Last night at the festival was "Radical Reels", a mix of films which were mainly the high octane type of stuff that's quite a contrast to ours. My favourite was a film about a freebase soloist called Dean Potter, who as well as being an astonishingly talented climber must also be a bit barking - soloing the North Face of the Eiger in order to jump off strapped to a tiny parachute? Fly or die indeed.

Monday night was really interesting, five short films by young Canadian film makers who had spent the summer based at Parks Canada field sites in order to make films about what outdoor Canada means to them. Five quite different interpretations, and plenty of talent on display.

Tonight is "The Snow Show" but I'm missing that as tomorrow, Friday and Saturday are going to be full on days and evenings on film and book fest so I need a night off!

Monday, November 01, 2010


So yesterday was the screening of "Lines of Flight" ... I went up on stage at the Eric Harvie Theatre to introduce the film, and when lights are shining at you on stage, you can't see the audience ... I put my hand up to shield my eyes to see who was out there and decided it was better not to look at that many people! There were about 450 people out there! That's probably more than have seen the film in total in the UK - this mountain film business is really serious in Canada.

It was great to watch the film in a big space, on a big screen, with a big audience, and lovely when people came up afterwards to say hello and that they'd enjoyed the film. Here's some of the feedback: "a really thoughtful film"; all those guys in the film are so articulate - so often people can be good at doing stuff but not at talking about it"; "it was great to see a film that was so thoughtful and didn't just lash me round the head with images"; "all 7 of us ust sat there going 'wow, this is good'"; "it's nice to see something intellectual about what we do"; "fantastic cinematography, loved the way you used the still images alongside the moving image" ... and so on!

So this is just a(nother) public thank you to everyone who contributed to the film, whether with time, or money, or other resources, to everyone who supported us in making it, and everyone who's turned up to see it - thank you!