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NZ Mountain Film Festival to go online

Attendees at last year's festival - this year's film festival willbe hosted at a smaller venue and screened online

In a much-needed dose of good news, the 18th New Zealand Mountain Film Festival is set to run in a reduced capacity, beginning in Wanaka from June 26 to 28.

Festival director Mark Sedon has adapted the festival format and platform due to expected restrictions on large gatherings. Sedon said films and events would show at the smaller venue

Wanaka Community Hub, which seats 100. He said films would also be simultaneously broadcast online through a paid Vimeo platform

“The shows will be played in sessions like at the regular festival,” Sedon said. “We will also either pre-record speakers, or screen them live online.”

Sedon said the festival will have a much more local feel to it this year: “As the global events have unfolded over the past week, we have adapted and decided to ‘Keep it Kiwi’ due to the uncertainty of our international guest speakers being able to travel.”

The festival has received over 90 film submissions already and will continue to accept entries until 20 April.

Sedon said he is happy to be bringing a slice of normality back into lives.

“It’s exciting to be planning an event, whether it is just online or at a small venue, for the period when we hope the virus is under control and we can slowly return to a more social life with fellow outdoors people,” he said.

The 2020 festival still plans to host Kiwi speakers, including trans-Tasman solo kayaker Scott Donaldson and Wanaka cyclist and adventurer Jo Haines.

Haines is travelling the world, three months at a time, on a bike. Each autumn she sets off to explore another unique corner of the earth. Haines reckons over the years, “Our tyres have gotten fatter, our loads are getting smaller, and the trails are getting quieter and rougher.” The list of destinations and journeys is impressive. Haines has chosen to speak about her travels across Georgia, Armenia, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

A Mountain Book of the Year award, founded by Dave Bamford and John Nankervis, will also make its debut.

Sedon said he is grateful for the ongoing support of sponsors, patrons and beneficiaries in the uncertain times.

“Our followers and the festival audience have been incredibly supportive. The feedback that we have received indicates that our fans are keen to support us where they can,” he said.

“They love watching adventure movies and hearing stories and are keen to stick with us even if the festival looks a little different than it usually does. We are lucky to have such a loyal community and we hope everyone is getting through these uncertain times the best they can.”

Festival details will be confirmed in May.