Sunday, 23 February 2014

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 2014 preview

There are some excellent films at the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) again this year. The reputation of the festival is, I believe, beginning to precede itself not just in the county but across the country, so the first sentence of this blog is likely redundant. 

I am not just speculating based on the film lists and superb trailer, however. I have been given the privilege of a preview of a number of the features that will be gracing the screens of Sheffield's superb Showroom Cinema.

This year, I also had the good fortune of interviewing the festival's Director, Matt Heason, and finding out what he is most looking forward to showing you. And there are some corkers. 

This is a climbing blog, so I would be remiss not to focus on those, but then again I love all adventure / adrenaline fuelled sports, beautiful cinematography and inspiring stories, so I was certainly not disappointed when I watched kayaking, cycling, skiing and straightforward documentary.

So I don't drown you in words now, I am going to space out a few individual film reviews (trying not to give too much away) between now and the festival, which runs from April 4th - 6th. But this a quick summary, so you know what to expect…

When I visited Mr Heason, I wasn't sure what I wanted to watch. I was excited about reviewing this year's offerings, but I hadn't the chance to study the film list (as it was at the time) in detail. Therefore a good, broad selection was chosen for me while I spoke to the man.

"This year has been bigger than ever," he explained. "In 2012 we had around 230 films to choose from to show at ShAFF and this year we've had 350. From these, we've selected just over 100. We're also after the other major film festivals in the calendar, so there are a lot of new films around."

Among those I've seen are: The Last Great Climb, Damnation, Half The Road, Valhalla, Off-width Outlaw, Reel Rock movies such as Spice Girl, The Sensei and High Tension, and then there's also The Sufferfest, The Road from Karak and WideBoyz II.

The general theme across all these movies is hardship - the protagonists putting themselves through epic feats of endurance, self determination, danger and suffering. But the overwhelming message: it's all so worth it - the rewards vastly outweighing the struggle. Indeed, a lot of the time the struggle can be part of the fun, and certainly what makes these adventures so worth while. 

There is Leo Holding and team sieging an arctic mountain, Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright travelling entirely under their own power in an attempt to conquer lots of mountains, epic cycling journeys through barren landscapes, painful, body sapping off-width battles, beautiful slow mo skiing escapades and lots of lessons learned. 

As I said before, I will review several (or all) of these before the big weekend, so keep visiting my blog for more. And start getting psyched for ShAFF!


Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) 
Friday April 4th to Sunday April 6th

Where is it?
The Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. The cinema is opposite Sheffield Train Station, so if you're travelling from around the UK it is very easy to find. You'll see it as soon as you exit the station.

How does it work?
The festival is divided into Sessions so you get your money's worth - being as some films can be just a few minutes long and others 2 hours. You buy tickets for a particular Session and you can watch all the movies in that slot (which may be 17 shorts or 1 feature). Click here for info on the sessions.

What else is happening?
There are lectures, workshops, kit sales, photography exhibitions, book and photo signings, sports clinics and more. It's far too much for this blog, which is why ShAFF has a whole website with the info.

Is that everything I need to know?
It's also worth remembering that £1 from every ticket sold will go to the Sheffield Hospitals Charity to help raise £5,000 for a much needed blood fridge in the resuscitation room in the Emergency Department of the Northern General Hospital.