Last week saw two significant film events take place at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal. First of all, a one-off event in aid of local charities and those affected by the Cumbria floods was held on Thursday 21st. This was followed a couple of days later on Sunday 24th, by the world premiere of former Sedbergh school pupil Rob Luke’s film ‘Sasquatch‘, made on location in Cumbria.
The flood relief fundraiser was put together by Clive Allen and the team behind Kendal Mountain Festival. Now bracketed as one the Top 3 Festival’s in the world, it boasted 14,000 visitors last year, who reputedly added a £2 million boost to the local economy. New plans are already being drawn up for 2016, so that the thousands of outdoor enthusiasts, artists, photographers, adventurers, explorers and speakers can continue to share their adventures and celebrate the very best in outdoor and adventure sports culture. The sold-out event was billed as a special ‘Best of the Best’ and a jam-packed evening featured a selection of hand-picked films and guest speakers from the past decade of the Festival. It also included a special presentation from its patron Leo Houlding, one of the UK’s most revered climbers, who entertained a rapt audience with stories behind his amazing feats on some of the world’s deadliest mountains. Snippets from the ‘best of’ films included the harsh realities of Mountaineering environments. This was brought sharply into focus during a clip of the first ascent of Saser Kangri II in 2012’s The Old Breed. Whilst Joe Simpson’s near death experience after being cut from a rope in the survival epic Touching the Void, was another potent reminder. Directed by Oscar winner Kevin MacDonald, the film had its gala premiere at Kendal back in November 2003. Amongst other adventures were mind-boggling tricks on mountain bikes (Madeira Dreamin’ – 2015), kayaking into a Mexican abyss (Cascada – 2013), the extraordinary technical prowess of J. P. Auclair’s urban skiing through a series of backyards and pavements (All.I.Can – 2011), not to mention a trip through the utterly bonkers music and rock climbing of Baraka films’ hugely entertaining Rockin’ Cuba with a premiere of their latest film, Metronomic – 2016. (Any film with a flying drummer must be seen!)
Undoubtedly, the most poignant moment of the evening came when Ben Abdelnoor introduced his short film, ‘Free Running’ – the second episode of a TAG Heuer and Amuse three-part ‘Born To’ series about extreme sports. Filming actually took place during the week before the floods, when heavy rain began to saturate the landscape. Twelve years ago Ben was told by surgeons that he might not run again after breaking his back during a para-gliding accident in New Zealand. In a classic case of triumph over adversity, his own subsequent achievements (he is now regarded as one of the UK’s best fell, mountain trail and ultra runners), clearly embody the same kind of spirit and positivity needed to recover from the unprecedented events of last December.
On Sunday night attention switched to the Brewery’s ongoing support for local filmmakers with the premiere of Rob Luke’s Sasquatch.
Well attended by cast and crew, there was also a touching and humorous introduction from the Director. Who recalled how the so-called ‘city boys’ of the crew were given a special reception from an irritated farmer, whilst on location near Grange-over-Sands! The story follows a couple of young guys on the run, Will (Dominic Crisp) and Harvey (Bernie Paget) who survive a car crash on route to the Lake District. They end up seeking shelter from the elements in an old man’s barn. The following morning they hear of the Bigfoot myth from Sandy, a camp American, with a pet chicken called Penelope. Still mourning the loss of his wife, he is ridiculed by the locals for continuing to believe in ‘Sasquatch’. Desperate to find some meaning in their lives, Will and Harvey begin a somewhat bungled set of attempts to vindicate Sandy. They do this with a cheap ‘wookie-esque’ looking costume bought from the village shop, before starting to trick locals into believing Bigfoot exists on their patch. Unfortunately, they do it too well, as a hitman – John Murtagh (Braveheart, Rob Roy) is hired to kill the roaming beast. Along the way they encounter Mel, a bored attractive tea room assistant played by Abigail Hardingham (from the BBC crime series Silent Witness) who succumbs to Will’s charms. Iconic Lake District locations feature throughout, along with a place of film pilgrimage. At the beginning, a few scenes at Sandy’s farm were actually filmed in the courtyard of Crow Crag, Wet Sleddale – the unmistakable home of Uncle Monty from the cult classic Withnail and I. The tourist honeypot of Tarn Hows near Hawkshead, lunar landscape of Hodge Close slate quarry near Coniston, and 19th century traditional farmhouse at Yew Tree Barn, Low Newton near Cartmel also feature, showing off the area’s beauty and diverse nature perfectly.