Wānaka film-maker wins top award

A scene from Terra Incognito. PHOTO: FINLAY WOODS
A scene from Terra Incognito. PHOTO: FINLAY WOODS
Wānaka film-maker Finlay Woods has won the 2024 New Zealand Mountain Film Festival’s Hiddleston/MacQueen Award ($2500) for best NZ-made film, featuring Wānaka Freeride World Tour skier Craig Murray.

The film Terra Incognito follows Murray and a team of world class skiers as they attempt to ski new lines in the Southern Alps.

Wanaka’s Finlay Woods. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Wanaka’s Finlay Woods. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The adventurers experiment with pack horses to access ski touring in unknown terrain, with mixed results. 

The film also explores the process and realities of pushing into some of the most remote places in Aotearoa.

Woods and Murray said they were honoured to win as they felt they had been up against some exceptional films and a record number of New Zealand film entries.

They acknowledged "selfless input" from guides, athletes, pilots, friends and many others to bring the film to fruition.

"For us the goal of Terra Incognita was to explore new places in the Southern Alps ... Overall, it was a transformative and educational process.

 "Usually there are forced changes and challenges during a project, and filming specific freeskiing in NZ is no exception. 

"We experienced a range of places, weather and conditions as well as sharing a ride of emotions with many great people. 

"In some ways I think our motivation and positivity created our own luck. More than once, when a plan completely fell through, another unexpected opportunity would arise," Murray said.

Woods said it was great to receive recognition for the film from "a cornerstone for culture and community in New Zealand".

"For it to be from the NZMFF is really special.  I spent so many of my younger years going and being inspired by the films in the festival. 

"As Craig said we are lucky to have the festival and it has so many positive effects in the community."

French film-maker Hugo Clouzeau has won the NZ Mountain Film Festival grand prize for his film,...
French film-maker Hugo Clouzeau has won the NZ Mountain Film Festival grand prize for his film, Nuptse: Touching the Intangible. The film follows climbers Hélias Millerioux, Frédéric Degoulet and Benjamin Guigonnet who are dreaming of opening a new extreme route on the legendary south face of Nuptse, a wall approaching 8000m in the heart of the Himalayas.
Festival director Mark Sedon said the international adventure film competition attracted a record 241 entries.

This was up from 177 entries in 2023.

Of the 64 films that had made the final programme, 20 were NZ-made. 

Kiwi film-makers also featured strongly among other award winners, collecting seven of the 14 top prizes.

Two others earned runner-up awards and a further two received special jury awards.

WHERE/WHEN: Wānaka June 21-25; Queenstown June 27-28; online July 1-31.

MORE INFO: mountainfilm.nz


Other winners:

  • Grand Prize: Nuptse: Touching the Intangible, Director: Hugo Clouzeau, France
  • Best Short Film Award: To Be Frank, Director: Anna Wilder Burns, USA. 
  • Best Mountain Culture Award: Sadpara, Director: Gabriele Canu, Italy. 
  • Best Environment Film: Deep Rising, Director: Matthieu Rytz, USA. 
  • Best Climbing Film: Soundscape, Director: Timmy O’Neill, USA. 
  • Best Snow Sports Film: Chronoception, Director: Guillaume Broust, France. 
  • Best Film on Adventurous Sports & Lifestyles: Via Sedna, Director Ramona Waldner, France.

NZ Award Winners: 

  • Spirit of Adventure Award: Polheim, Directors: Simon Waterhouse and Liddy Whiteman. 
  • Grass Roots Award: Kahurangi: A South to North Traverse, Director: Louie Burger. 
  • (Not) Making an Impact Award: Up the Cass, No Gas, Director: Anna Frances Pearson. 
  • Best Documentary Award: The Adventure of Racing, Director: Ben Wallbank. 
  • Solo Award: Solo, Director: Scott Worthington. 
  • Best Self-Filmed Film Award: Inshallah, Directors: Georgia Merton and Isobel Ewing. 
  • Runner Up — Mountain Culture Award: The Wāhine Job, Director: Deanna Gerlach. 
  • Runner Up — Best Film on the Environment: Underbirds: The Fight to Save the Southern NZ Dotterel, Directors: Brady Clarke, Abi Liddell & Isabella Lewis. 
  • Special Jury Awards: The Greensteam, Director: Chris Chase; Ladies Behind The Lens, Producer: Hannah Marshall.