Kendal 2017 – the agony of choice

It’s that time of year again. Strong coffee, pizza and beer play havoc with my rock slimnast physique as we enter 4 nights and 3 days of the Kendal Mountain Festival where I coordinate the presenters for this marathon event.

Every year, it gets bigger. The world of outdoor adventure is being explored in so many different ways. Film making technology becomes more accessible and more sophisticated at the same time, and it can sometimes be difficult to separate presentation from content, the hype from the real deal.

This year, for the first time, I’ve been involved in pre-screening, the dedicated team who sift through over 300 films submitted to the Festival and who whittle it down to the 90 we can include on the programme. Once that’s done, the Festival programming team puts the films together into collections. We used to do this by activity ( a Climbing collection, White Water, Bike and so on ) but that has its difficulties. Essentially, we want to show good films, rather than just trying to fill 2 hours with one particular activity. So in 2016 for the first time we mixed the activities up, and while a small vocal minority of nerds whined about not being able to sit through 3 arse-numbing hours of films about their specific passion, the vast majority of Festival-goers appreciated the wider perspective of seeing other sports and recognising that common threads run through all our adventures, whether that’s on rock, snow, ice, water, two wheels, four legs, fingers, feet or planks.

Given that the offering at Kendal is so broad, and the scheduling can appear complex, I often get asked for my top tips. I can’t name specific films until the Festival kicks off, but if you share my particular passions and tastes in outdoor activities and outlook on life in general, you could check out the following film sessions:

Rock: at its core, all climbing boils down to movement on rock, and there are some belters here. I’ll be presenting this on Sunday morning in Screen 2. Swop your hangover for some overhanging terrain. You know it makes sense.

Seek: Some beautiful thoughtful films in here from the UK to the west coast of Canada to Nepal

Discover: It’s got Psycho Vertical in it. Enough said.

For special events, get to the Psycho Vertical European première on Friday night if you can. Mr K is sure to be on fine form after the film by Jen Randall won Best Climbing Film at Banff recently.

On Saturday, check out Britain’s Abandoned Playgrounds. I started playing outside as a kid in a city, so I get it. Keme Nzerem from Channel 4 will host this high activity session before he puts on his sensible hat for judging at the Awards, our version of the Oscars.

On Sunday night, catch the Best of Kendal in the Theatre with that all important announcement, the winner of the People’s Choice, arguably the most prized accolade of the Festival.

I look forward to seeing old friends and new in the cinemas and bars. I’m the one with the laptop, mobile phone and clipboard looking stressed. If I can’t remember your name, please don’t take it personally.