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Mountain Film Festival, Wanaka, NZ

In July 2011, Pangaea Ambassador, Saraya D'ATH, entered Mike Horn's Arktos documentary at the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival (NZMFF), and the feature received the 'Special Jury Award' and will be shown during the festival as a Premiere in New Zealand.

Blog written by: Saraya D’Ath

Every year in early July a small town in Southern New Zealand, unites a group of active, adventurous outdoor enthusiasts from all over the World to watch, listen and share stories of adventures.
The New Zealand Mountain Film Festival (NZMFF) is held in Wanaka from the 1st to the 5th of July each year. It is a run at the Lake Wanaka Community Centre and offers a wide variety of interests and activities of all ages and genders.

Each day a series of films are shown from rock climbing in the Chad desert to summiting Mount Everest or even walking around the Arctic Circle at 70 degrees North. Mainly the films are shot by professional directors however there is a short-film competition giving people the chance to enter a film that could possibly be shown at the festival, the overall winner receives $1000 dollars. Also available at the NZMFF is rock climbing workshops, avalanche seminars, outdoor filming courses, musical entertainment and a art exhibition for little or no cost. Season passes gives you access to every session throughout the 5 days for $85 NZ dollars or you can purchase individual sessions for $20 NZ dollars, the day starts at around 11am and finishes around 11pm.

This year we timed our trip to New Zealand at the same time as the 9th New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in Wanaka. It was the perfect opportunity to open the Pangaea Young Explorers World to this whole other audience that is enthusiastic about outdoor adventures. A quick email to the director- Mark Sedon and his wife Jo and I was in! we arranged for me to set up a Young Explorers display table, I entered a canvas print from the Kamchatka expedition in the Art Exhibition and every year people from all around the World enter outdoor adventure films and then the organisers select a certain number of the films to show at the festival… another great opportunity to get Mike Horn’s name out there in the New Zealand so I entered Arktos a few weeks later I received an email saying that Arktos was successful and will be shown at the festival it also received a “jury award” which was all very exciting.

The stall was a great success throughout the 5 days, I interacted with so many amazing people, some people would browse pass and take a brochure or two and then others I could talk to all day! many people loved looking through the photo books as it gave them more of a personal understanding of the experiences. In the art exhibition where the canvas was, many people were keen to learn about this photograph and the mysterious place called Kamchatka, so thank you very much to Dima (Dmitri Sharomov) for taking all these wonderful pictures that enable us to share so many experiences.

Petzl is one of the sponsors for the NZMFF and on the first evening there was a lucky door prize and the prize was a bag full of petzl gear! That night I was wearing my orange petzl beanie. Coincidently mine and my Mums tickets were drawn out of the box. So a big thank you to petzl both at the NZMFF and the Mike Horn Project.

Thank you Mark and Jo Sedon for making this festival such a great success year after year.

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Arktos: The Internal Journey of Mike Horn

Session #5 on Sunday July 3, 2011 at 11am

85 minutes, Switzerland, 2005 – Directed by Raphael Blanc – New Zealand Premier – Subtitles.

Arktos is the amazing story of Mike Horn who has gone along the Arctic Circle alone for 27 months, 20,000 km, without using any motorized transportation. He has faced ice storms, temperatures down to -50°C, polar bears, a fire that destroyed most of his equipment and nearly burned him alive and he was the first man to cross entire Siberia on foot. But first of all, Arktos is a human tale. He met Simon the Inuit who taught him to build an igloo in 20 minutes, Vassia, an elderly Russian fisher and so many others. After all, Mike met himself. The film shows with the poetry of the images the motivations of one of the greatest adventurer of the century.

New Zealand Mountain Film Festival in Wanaka

July 1 – 5, 2011

How about kick starting the ski season with a week in Wanaka at the 9th NZ Mountain Film Festival? The festival has an almost cult following with a mixture of armchair and actual adventurers attending the five day event and this year there is thought to be a world first, an Adventure Film Editing Competition. The Festival Director Mark Sedon, supported by Lake Wanaka Tourism, invented the new competition. “We have filmed a carbon free adventure” says Sedon, “and we’ll give the footage to film makers from NZ and around the world so they can make a three minute film”. 

Sedon and Wanaka cameraman, Simon Rasmussen rode their mountain bikes from Lake Hawea township in Central Otago to Breast Hill (1578m), climbed up a steep ridge, then Sedon flew off on his paraglider. “The US$1000 first prize is sure to attract a lot of budding film makers” says Sedon. Entries to the free competition open June 1, the film editing starts June 10 until 17 and the 10 best films will be screened online and during the festival. “Its really going to show case the stunning scenery of the Wanaka/Hawea area” says Sedon, “plus highlight the fantastic adventure activities that the region naturally attracts”. Competitors can either come to Wanaka for the week, or download the footage online and compete from anywhere on earth. 

The festival also hosts NZ’s only International Adventure Film Makers Competition which is well under way with over 20 films received and another 100 expected before the May 30th deadline. Sedon is keen to see more films from New Zealand film makers and it doesn’t matter if it’s your first film, or you have made many, there is over $2000 up for grabs and $1000 of this is for the best NZ made film gaining the prestigious Hiddleston/MacQueen Award. To be eligible for the award, it must be filmed in NZ, or by a New Zealander, but the adventure can be anywhere. “Films around 10-15 minutes in length do the best” says Sedon, “better to have the viewers wanting more, than to wish it was over and the theme, Adventurous Sports and Lifestyles, is pretty broad so it should suit NZ’s wider outdoor community”. 

Speakers have been confirmed with world renowned adventurer, film maker and writer Greg Child as this year’s keynote speaker. US based Child is considered an especially literate mountaineering storyteller and he was honored with the American Alpine Club's Literary Award for his prolific and insightful mountaineering literature. His book Postcards From the Ledge took home the Banff Mountain Festival Book Award in 1997 and he also won an Emmy for his video Hitting the Wall in 1998. Accompanying Child is Debbie Chambers, one of NZ's most accomplished adventure racers, Lake Hawea climber Lydia Bradey, arguably one of our festival's most entertaining adventure speakers and the first woman to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen. Snow sports photographer and adventurer Steve Eastwood and Kiwi hard man, Steve Gurney will also give presentations.

The festival runs July 1 to 5 in Wanaka and features 40-50 of the best adventure films with several world and NZ premiers. The Festival’s world record ‘Dyno’ attempt will be entertaining with young climbers hanging onto small holds on an overhanging wall, then leaping blindly upwards for over two metres to another hold. Don’t worry though, there are large gym pads below for when they miss. There are workshops, art displays, live music, adventure trade show and lots of general socialising. Watch the web page for updates or sign up for the newsletter at


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