Film and book festival-goers to hear creative presentations

A world-class collection of speakers has been lined up for the New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival in Wanaka and Queenstown this month.

The festival was founded in 2002 by Lake Hawea adventurers Mark and Jo Sedon and provides a rare opportunity for action people to blob out in front of the big screen, before the region’s ski season hits its stride.

This year, the festival drew 200 entries from filmmakers around the world, and 68 were selected to screen at various venues.

The festival includes 11 world premieres and 23 New Zealand premieres.

More than $5500 has been allocated to prizewinners, New Zealand filmmakers picking up the majority of awards.

The winners include Richard Sidey, of Wanaka, whose film produced with Wanaka photographer Christopher Thompson, In the Theatre of the Gogs, tells the story of the adventure behind making art on Stewart Island.

It has won the Hiddleston/MacQueen award, worth $2500, for best New Zealand-made movie.

Mr Sedon said the Kiwi contingent of entries had been strong.

"Year after year the skill level of New Zealand films in increasing in quality and quantity.

"Adventure is definitely in our blood, but the standard of filmmaking and storytelling also showcases Kiwis’ artistic talent."

The Hiddleston/MacQueen award is named after the late Dave Hiddleston and late Will MacQueen, and was a nod to the spirit of adventure they lived for, Mr Sedon said.

Sidey had encapsulated that spirit in his film, "a contemplation of art and adventure", and the result of two unique perspectives as they pursue a sea kayaking and hiking adventure in the southern wilds of the island.

Other prizes went to New Zealander filmmakers Andy Deer and Ryan Heron (Adventurous Sport and Lifestyle Award for a film on surfer Kehu Butler) and New Zealand writer Miriam Lancewood, author of Wild at Heart (Mountain and Adventure Narratives).

Queenstown writer Peta Carey won the Heritage Award and New Zealand Mountain Book of the Year with Tamatea Dusky.

Carey and Sidey are among the many speakers announced on the festival programme this week.

The festival runs in Wanaka and Queenstown from June 25 to July 3, and is also online.

• A full programme and list of winners are on the festival website.

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