Category Archives: Films Books & Art

Thinking about wild camping? For inspiration read Extreme Sleeps by Phoebe Smith

I thought about wild camping for quite a while, but it seemed like a bit of a mysterious world. With so much freedom I almost didn’t know where to start.

Extreme Sleeps by Phoebe Smith showed me how it’s done, and gave me the encouragement I needed to stop thinking about it and just get out there! Continue reading

Adventure in your hands – Discover these independent magazines

Independent magazines can grab you by the imagination and lead you deep into your chosen world. I especially enjoy the authentic voices of contributors, and their photographs and illustrations can’t always be fully appreciated on a small screen.

Comprised of a series of relatively short pieces, these publications fit perfectly into a busy life. Make a coffee, sit down, and read… Continue reading

ShAFF 2016 Previews & The Outdoor City Weekender

The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) is a weekend where outdoors people can get together and get inspired by watching the best adventure films.

This year ShAFF is at the heart of a citywide programme of outdoors events, The Outdoor City Weekender, so that whether you run, walk, climb, or ride, your weekend can include an adventure that fits neatly with the festival films.

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How to be adventurous – Inspiring books by Women in Adventure

If you are feeling the need to be more adventurous, books are a great way to feed your imagination. You don’t have to be planning to summit Everest, free climb El Cap, or BASE jump desert towers to be inspired by these women and their adventurous approach to life… Continue reading

Trail running films – free and featuring women: Inspiration for the winter months

Films are a great source of inspiration and a good way to spend time when the weather’s bad and you just want to be cosy indoors. At this time of year many of us are resting, reflecting on our achievements over the past 12 months and planning new goals.

Dreams of the coming year can really motivate and help us see a positive way through the coldest darkest months. Here are five inspiring trail running films for your rest days that feature women and are free to watch online: Continue reading

#ShAFF2015 Sheffield Adventure Film Festival – Women in Adventure Panel and networking, 21 March 2015

Having previewed some of the films in the Women in Adventure category I was excited to attend the ShAFF networking event to hear the women that made and appear in the films talking about their experiences. Festival organiser Lissa Cook was keen to explain that the theme of Women in Adventure was something that ran right through the heart of the festival, not a separate or minority part of it. The panel and networking event provided a forum to discuss issues specific to women, and the aims were celebration, inspiration, sourcing, conversation, and networking.

The event started with a celebration of some of this year’s films, showing clips from the Women in Adventure category (made by or featuring women). Selected by ShAFF judge Claire-Jane Carter, they demonstrated the wider themes of the festival, some of them thoughtful, emotional, funny, or that played with the concept of gender roles and what we expect of women. Danielle Sellwood of the Women’s Sport Trust introduced the discussion, reminding us with some shocking statistics that as with many industries there is still a way to go before women have equality of opportunity and all that comes with it – professional recognition, sponsorship, funding, and equal levels of participation. This led to wider discussion in form of Q&A with the panel.

The WIA panel members, Danielle, Nikki, Jen, Mina, Brenda, Squash, and Steph

The WIA panel members, Danielle, Nikki, Jen, Mina, Brenda, Squash, and Steph

One of the critical questions addressed whether it is necessary or counterproductive to categorise ‘women’s’ films? For some the focus on gender may not feel helpful or relevant – in some cases even patronising. The panel recognised the responsibility of filmmakers to consider the way they represent individuals in the editing of their films – are negative stereotypes enforced if we see women crying or expressing strong emotions? Freelance producer and director Brenda Piekarski is aware that there is power in the choices made by filmmakers as they edit and interpret what they capture. With filmmaker Jen Randall, she discussed a ‘movement’ in film making away from action and focusing on storytelling. She described it as a search for authenticity and truthfulness, telling the story of the individual whatever that may be. The requirement for authenticity and quality was reflected in the selection process where there was no positive discrimination, every film was judged by the same demanding criteria. Having selected the films on merit though, there is a purpose in identifying levels of representation of women.

Increasing representation and inclusion isn’t just about high profile women, but as Danielle says “you can’t be what you can’t see.” We need more stories to be spread as widely as possible – and this means more sponsorship and support. Women that are making a career out of something that they love, work hard at and excel in should be recognised for it. As adventurer Squash Falconer and stunt woman Steph Carey explained, in the moment of action they are not aware of their gender, and their achievements don’t need to be increased or diminished because they happen to be female. Some women in high profile positions do feel obliged to make things better for the women that come after them, and to achieve this there are several issues to tackle. This includes raising women’s confidence and sometimes challenging the way that we perceive ourselves.

It is exposing to share, and it requires women to be brave enough to share their stories. US Ultra Runner Nikki Kimball in Finding Traction tells a deeply personal story about how running helps her survive depression. Professional climber Mina Leslie-Wujastyk in Project Mina temporarily breaks down under the pressure to achieve, demonstrating that confidence can be an issue no matter what your level of ability. Women may feel that their stories aren’t interesting, aren’t worth telling, or worry about how they will be perceived, but women like Nikki and Mina are leading the way for other women. The moments of vulnerability are where we all relate and connect, through that connection comes inspiration.

The event ended with a networking session, an opportunity to put names to faces and for people within the industry to meet. In future the aim is that it will not be necessary to specifically promote women due to gender inequality, and ShAFF is working towards a ten year plan. The outdoors industry is fortunate that there are women and men with the vision and the passion to effect real change. Thank you to ShAFF for starting this conversation and for inviting us to be a part of it.

Details about the event and ShAFF in general are here : http://www.shaff.co.uk/shaff-fringe/women-in-adventure-network/

#ShAFF2015 Women in Adventure Film Previews – Sheffield Adventure Film Festival 2015

I have attended the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival regularly for the past few years, so I was excited to have the opportunity to preview four of the films that will be shown in the Women in Adventure category at #ShAFF2015. This year there will be double the number of films featuring female athletes and/or made by female directors and producers. This is due to a conscious effort by the organisers of the event not just to select more films made by and featuring women, but to address the reasons that there are disproportionately fewer women in front of and behind the camera. There will be competitions specifically for Women in Mountain Adventure Films, Women in Adventure Photography, and the exciting development of a ShAFF Fringe Women in Adventure Forum. The Forum has the specific aims of celebrating achievement, inspiring and encouraging more women to get involved, and to establish a network for women in adventure/outdoors sport to keep the conversation going.

The Showroom is a local independent cinema, it’s a perfect venue for ShAFF and really does help create the festival feel. It’s a great feeling to watch quality films with a crowd of people that ‘get it.’ In previous years there have been some fantastic moments, particularly the collective reaction to climbing films, often featuring familiar faces in places we know well and love. As well as celebrating the achievements of Sheffield’s outdoors community, adventure films are a source of inspiration, a way to open my eyes to sports or places that I haven’t seen before, and to possibilities and aspirations for myself. The following four films feature truly diverse women and their personal adventures. I absolutely loved watching them, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the ShAFF films.

Finding Traction – As an aspiring ultra runner, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to preview this film in which female ultra runner Nikki Kimball takes on the record for running the Long Trail through the mountains of Vermont. At 273 miles, the Long Trail is the equivalent of running more than 10 marathons back to back, and includes twice the elevation of Everest. To run this trail non stop is an extreme physical and mental challenge, it’s fascinating and sometimes painful to watch the effects of fluctuations in nutrition, hydration, and fatigue. As a successful athlete with a career spanning many years, Nikki has an insight into the ways that women and men are treated differently in sport. She is running the Long Trail to publicise a charity, Girls on the Run, and wants to inspire young women to discover that being outdoors will make them happy. You don’t have to be a runner or a woman to enjoy this film, but if you happen to be both, don’t miss it!

Megamoon – This film is made by Hannah Maia and features herself and her new husband as they cycle across the US Transcontinental Great Divide for their Megamoon. First this involves rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, then cycling from New Mexico, via desert heat, wind, and mud to Alberta, Canada. Hannah owns this film, she has shared a piece of her personal world and it is full of joy and the love of life. I particularly enjoyed the little moments captured by the camera, a wheel popping off the trailer unexpectedly, beard wiggling, and the face that happens when your tent nearly gets struck by lightning. I was so inspired by this film I was practically packing my bags to go and find my own Mega adventures before the end titles had finished.

Patience – A short film by Jen Randall about alpine climber Emily Ward and her journey to recovery from serious illness against the odds. It demonstrates the need not just for physical strength but for mental strength and the persistence to endure. Often in life, it takes a negative event to force us to find strength through adversity – but I don’t think so in Emily’s case. I’m sure she was exceptionally strong before her illness, and will continue to be in spite of it. This is a woman who has made numerous first alpine ascents in Kyrgyzstan. This film challenged me to question whether I have the strength of character needed to achieve my goals. I hope so, and if so, what am I waiting for?

Nobody’s River – In this film four girls from the USA kayak together along the longest free-flowing river in the world, first through Mongolia and then Russia. The film shares the highs and lows of the all-female expedition, the timing of this journey coinciding with an unforeseen tragic period in their lives. They encounter the beauty, naivety and spontaneous magic of Mongolia, tempered by the sometimes brutal reality reflected in the Russian experience. Feeling themselves bonding as a tribe, they are forced to take difficult decisions, having to make the right calls both as a group and individually. This is a film about friendship as much as adventure, the girls survive the physical and emotional challenges of the journey together using their unique blend of strength, capability… and just the right amount of intuition.

You can find all the details about ShAFF Women in Adventure here – http://www.shaff.co.uk/news-and-press/2014/11/05/Women_In_Adventure_Take_Centre_Stage_At_SHAFF_2015

And here is a link to the complete list of Women in Adventure films – http://www.shaff.co.uk/whats-on/women-in-adventure-films