Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival - The Beauty of Overcoming Fear

Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival – The Beauty of Overcoming Fear

Lee Craigie’s ‘Escape’ caught my attention a few days ago, and when I recognised that it’s screening alongside Tom Seipp’s ‘A Mountain Journal‘, which I hadn’t seen on a big screen either, I was pleased when I got an invite from Stevie, the man behind the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival. Held for the 14th time it’s an institution that has inspired me in many ways, and it was an honour to be asked to introduce Tom’s film as someone who knows Rich and Tom and has shared a few memories with them.

Making a tough decision between getting some more mapping of the Central Belter done or attending a day inside, I wasn’t disappointed when I opted for the festival this time. The family friendly movie session was well filled, and the rewards for the audience were plenty. Lee’s film stood out, and reminded me of my own passion for cycling. It reminded me of being a small boy, jumping on my foldable bike and, for an afternoon only, escaping the restraints of everyday life. And picking up the bike again later in life, and never leaving it behind again. Lee’s story is a compelling and encouraging one. It encourages people in similar life circumstances to follow suit. Almost 10,000 views make it clear. Storytelling works. And hopefully gets more of us on two wheels, the rewards are plenty.


An invite for lunch at Kim Harding’s home, we both enjoyed the morning session together, turned into a quick fun ride, being passenger in an Urban Arrow, which the Edinburgh Festival of Cycling hires out in between festivals.


I hadn’t planned on spending the whole day at the festival, so sadly missed out on the afternoon films, but coming back for the lecture with Luke Robertson was a great decision. After being fitted with a pacemaker and diagnosed with a brain tumour (fortunately it only happened to be a rare cyst), Luke set off to ski to the South Pole last year. While I loved the story, my focus was more on watching him telling his story to a rather large audience, at which he did a brilliant job. You can find out more on his website.

After a short break home I was back for the final session at 7pm. The film that stood out for me finally won the Best Short Film Award, a worthy winner. ‘Johanna, under the ice’ is a stunningly beautiful and captivating movie, telling the love a human being can develop of strangely adverse conditions. The whole movie is here on Vimeo, the making of is as captivating as the final product.


If I ever need a skipper, it’ll Bob Shepton, the Scotsman owning the Dodo’s Delight. The movie with the same title scooped both Best Film Award and the public vote and is also worth watching, possibly with a drink of your choice and some good mates. You can get a feeling for the film in the snippet below, but the real deal is watching it in full length. There’s sailing, climbing, red wine, Belgian humour, stunning icebergs and inflatables.

Time was simply flying, and an inspiring day ended with Jamie Andrew, a quadruple amputee, determined to reach the summit of Matterhorn. If his story alone wasn’t interesting alone, not only losing his best friend Jamie Fisher on a mountain in 1999, but also his limps, the thing that grabbed me even more was his determination to get up the Matterhorn. For me it was again a double act watching it, one eye on his delivery, the other eye on the story, and both were satisfied in even measures.

On the way home I tried to joined the dots, and what struck me was a common theme between Lee, Luke, Johanna and Jamie. The fact that life is never straightforward. The realisation that on the other side of fear there’s something much better. And while it at times it can be hard to overcome that fear, there’s no alternative. An inspiring day, and if you haven’t been to the festival, put it on the bucket list for next year.

PS: For those who saw Tom and Richard’s movie, here’s the chance to see them live on 16 Feb in Edinburgh. Click here for tickets.