Wānaka filmmaker wins best NZ film award

Wānaka filmmaker Richard Sidey is the winner of the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival best NZ Film award. Credit: KFC

The winner of the Hiddleston/MacQueen Award presented at the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival will go to Wānaka local Richard Sidey for his film The KFC.

The beautiful film follows five New Zealanders as they take on a paragliding adventure in Tanzania, with the ultimate aim of flying from the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. Kilimanjaro is the highest freestanding mountain in the world; the altitude change from the top to the bottom makes it the biggest glide possible to do on the planet. 

Stunning imagery, experiencing a new culture, adventure and camaraderie make this a quintessential Kiwi tale.

The award is presented in the names of two Wānaka adventurers and is a nod to the spirit of adventure they lived for.

Sidey says, "One of the highlights for me was flying places where no one had ever seen a paraglider, some people came out to see, others ran to hide. Winning the award was unexpected, but we are delighted to have the film recognised in this way, as a lot of work goes into a project like this. All the guys pitched in with their footage which made the film possible, sharing their own stories, as it's pretty much impossible to stay together when paragliding in a foreign land. The prize money will go back into the film to help us enter festivals overseas. Hopefully, there's even a little leftover to document the next adventure. I hope The KFC inspires people to get outdoors with their friends and have an adventure, and maybe make a film about it too."

 One of the judges, Whitney Oliver, commented, "The KFC took top marks from me. The cinematography was creative, with captivating footage; great pacing with the editing, good energy and balance; the story was fun and definitely carried the spirit of everyman's adventure; great characters and good laughs; and ultimately left me with feelings of joy and inspiration, which I think is a great result for any adventure film."

 Over the past few months, the organisers of the NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival have been quietly optimistic about running the iconic event in 2020. Patience and timing have paid off, and tickets go on sale for the downsized and reshaped function on Monday, June 1.

 The 18th NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival is scheduled to run live in five venues in Wānaka and Queenstown simultaneously from June 26 to 28 and nationally online from June 26 to July 5. The events will include the famous opening night, guest speakers, award-winning films and books. The trust received over 188 entries in the filmmaker competition; 54 films are included in the programme, including nine world premieres and 13 New Zealand made films. The movies make up the sessions in these categories:  NZ Pure, Snow Show, Environmental and Cultural and the Free Family shows.  Each session includes award-winning films. The Pure NZ session will include the Hiddleston/MacQueen Award - Best NZ Film.

 Festival Director, Mark Sedon, is delighted with the opportunity to proceed with the event. He says, "We are pleased to be able to bring our loyal festival fans to the event this year. Although the festival will look a little different, we are pleased to be able to run in several small venues rather than two large halls. We feel incredibly humbled to have continued to receive support from our sponsors and benefactors, not to mention the exceptional contributions by filmmakers, authors and speakers, who will make up a world-class programme this year. We hope the community will enjoy this year's event."

Speakers include our local Jo Haines, speaking about her travels across Georgia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan by bike. Geoff Spearpoint will talk about his life in the NZ backcountry and his book The Great Unknown, which won the NZ Mountain Book of the Year. Tara Mulvany, who completed the first-ever kayak circumnavigation of the Svalbard Archipelago in the high Arctic will talk about her adventures, and Scott Donaldson, who became the first solo kayaker to successfully paddle from Australia to New Zealand, will also speak.

Read edition 977 of the Wānaka Sun here.

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