As readers of this site will know, a couple of years ago I walked 3000 miles from Mongolia to Hong Kong with my friend Rob Lilwall. The intention was to see China at ground level; to watch how a country, people and landscape change at human speed. Moving so slowly undoubtedly offers a unique (if occasionally miserable) insight into a place. I have since become quite a fan of exploring on foot (see more thoughts on that here.)
The idea for the journey came from Rob - he and his wife Christine had just moved to Hong Kong, and part of his motivation for exploring China in such a way was to forge a deeper connection with their new home. Rob, clearly, was also just someone drawn to the wilds of the world, to adventures and travel and challenges and everything that lies therein. He had lived for three years on a bicycle, pedalling from Siberia to London, and had spent countless days and nights on dusty roads in foreign lands and in tiny tents tucked away in unknown landscapes. He had an enviable wealth of experience 'out there' in the world, but still wanted more.
Rob wasn't looking for passing, transitory incidents to form the basis of future anecdotes at dinner-parties - he wanted to really dig deep and learn what he could about China. The culture, the history, the language, the humour; every piece of knowledge gleaned would be a deepening of the relationship with his newly-adopted country.
Happy 2014, all!
It promises to be an exciting year of adventure for me, and I hope for you too. One of my aims for this year is to share my film Into The Empty Quarter with as many people as possible (don't know what I'm talking about? Watch a trailer here.) A great way to do this is via film festivals, and Alastair and I will be entering as many as we can throughout the year.
I'm delighted to tell you that we already have our first acceptance! It's a good one too: Into The Empty Quarter will be playing at theSheffield Adventure Film Festival - one of the most respected events on this circuit - on the weekend of 4-6 April 2014.
Al and I have made (what seems to us) to be a pretty comprehensive list of our other favourite festivals. But we may have missed some. In the comments section here, or by sending me an email, please can you tell me what your favourite film festivals are - adventure, mountain, documentary or regular - I'm happy to hear them all!
For the record, along with the major players in the adventure film festival world (Banff and Kendal) I also love the sound of MountainFilm in Telluride, 5 Point Film and the inimitable Adventure Travel Film Festival.
AFI DOCS in Washington DC and Sheffield Doc Fest round out my choices for general documentary events.