What a marvellous festival it has been at Kendal and congratulations to the new organisers who took on the whole show from Brian Hall and John Porter and actually managed to improve it. Those guys were a hard act to follow.
I spent four days, along with three other judges, Jane Roussou, John Innerdale and Dave Birkett, watching some 84 films. The fact that we managed to come up with the winners of the various categories was a small miracle, but we did it. The Grand Prize, the biggie, was won by Alastair Lee’s marvellous On Sight, a great film that I particularly felt came at a very important time in the history of British rock climbing. Climbing, as we know it, has become incredibly diverse, with bouldering and indoor climbing and competitions taking the focus away from what had been trad adventure climbing - or on-sight climbing. Alastair Lee’s film has re-foccussed on what is really important and the fil itself portrayed all the drama, adventure and challenge of climbing a route, no matter what grade, on sight.
Some folk found it strange that we didn’t give any awards to Catherine Destivelle’s film, Beyond the Summits. In actual fact we thought the photography was superb (although one adventure film maker I spoke to suggested there were too many gimmicks) and the film was let down by two things: we didn’t learn very much about Catherine or what she is up to these days, and the British language commentary was absolutely cringeworthy. God only knows what made the producers hire Brian Blessed to do the commentary but it was a joke and for us, completely spoiled the film. Having said that, the film narrowly won the People’s Choice Award, so perhaps justice was done if we had got it wrong.
Finally, many thanks to all of you who came along to my own talk about the Sutherland Trail. Richard and I were delighted to see so many of you there and we hope you enjoyed the presentation. We certainly enjoyed giving it!