Slovakians win top prize in festival

A scene from the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival's grand prize-winning film Footprints on the Ridge. Photo supplied.
A scene from the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival's grand prize-winning film Footprints on the Ridge. Photo supplied.
A pair of Slovakian film-makers have been awarded the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival's grand prize for their film Footprints on the Ridge.

The story follows two friends on a winter traverse of Slovakia's Western, High, and Belianske Tatras - a long ridgeline formed by more than 130 extreme peaks and towers.

Alena Koscova and Palo Barabas spent several days in perilous, freezing conditions filming the adventurers.

''It was an extraordinary experience to be there and to see how strong friendship and willpower can be,'' Koscova said.

The best snow sports award, announced for Mission Antarctic, follows professional extreme snowboarder Xavier de Le Rue on a small boat on his search to find steep, unridden terrain in the Antarctic.

UK director Alastair Lee's film The Last Great Climb, also set in the Antarctic, was awarded this year's best film on climbing.

The adventurous sports and lifestyles category was won by The Cave Connection - Into the Unknown, a story set in New Zealand's deep unexplored cave systems, best short film went to 35, a story of a unique way to celebrate your 35th birthday, and the best film on mountain culture and environment went to High Tension, about conflict high on Mt Everest.

Seven New Zealand finalists, five of whom are from Wanaka, are vying for the Hiddleston/MacQueen Award for the best New Zealand-made film - to be announced during the festival.

The 12th festival will take place in Wanaka, Queenstown and Cromwell from July 4 to 11.