Media Release: Lives on the line in the spotlight at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival

Sean Villanueva in Baffin Island

Adventurers risk everything in pursuit of their sport at the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival

THERE are no prizes for a new climbing route, a first ski descent or for surfing a remote cold-water wave in Iceland.

Yet, many enthusiasts take great satisfaction if they manage to achieve any of these.

And for some athletes, the danger faced is very much worth the risk, as you’ll see from the safety of your cinema seat if you attend the 14th Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, which runs from Saturday 4th to Sunday 5th February 2017 at The George Square Lecture Theatre, Edinburgh University.

You’ve probably never heard of the sport called ‘speed-flying’ – described as ‘a revved-up, more dangerous version’ of paragliding – where you fly as low to the ground as you dare, at high-speed, perhaps pulling off tricks such as ‘barrel-rolls – basically a loop-the-loop on a parachute. Does this sound safe? Sensible?

Fun, even? Probably not – unless your name is Willis Morris.

This young Scottish adrenaline junkie has been taking on extreme sports since he was a kid.

He found speed-flying by chance and set about learning with such ferocious enthusiasm, that he alarmed many of his peers with his flights.

Hit The Ground Running’ by Scottish filmmaker, Euan Ryan, documents the progress of Willis as he goes – very quickly – from complete novice flyer to someone already pushing the limits.

The film starts off as a bit of fun but you quickly become aware how serious the risks are as things threaten to go wrong.

A contrasting film, yet just as extreme in its own way, introduces us to Finnish free diver, Johanna Nordblad.

Following a serious injury in a downhill biking accident, Johanna was exposed to cold-water treatment – something that saved her leg. Johanna found the cold strangely compelling and is now one of the few freedivers in the world who dare to venture under frozen lakes.

British filmmaker, Ian Derry, captures her taking a plunge under the Arctic ice in a magical and beautiful short film, Johanna Under The Ice.

The most extreme action, however, can be found in the epic kayak film, Chasing Niagara. Rafa Ortiz, one of the world’s top whitewater kayakers, puts his life on the line when he decides that he wants to be the first person to kayak over Niagara Falls – the only previous attempt ended in a fatality.

This highly-anticipated film has its Scottish premiere at the EMFF, having had one earlier screening in the UK, in London last month.

Not all of the 22 films being screened at the EMFF feature such extreme action.

There are inspiring journeys, reflective biographies and plenty of good, old-fashioned adventures, covering a range of activities from climbing to canoeing, skiing to surfing, mountain biking to mountain walking.

As well as the films, the festival features guest lectures from American BASE jumper, Steph Davis, and from Scottish mountaineers and adventurers, Jamie Andrew, Greg Boswell and Luke Robertson.

The two-day festival is being staged, as always, at George Square Lecture Theatre in Edinburgh.

Tickets for the popular festival start at £7 and are on sale now at, with the organisers reporting that tickets are already selling fast.

With 22 films and four fascinating speakers, Stevie Christie, festival director, is getting excited as the festival weekend closes in.

He said: “The films we are screening are the very best adventure films out there – but we’ve stuck to our roots by including some no-budget grass-root movies alongside the blockbusters.

“The action takes us across the globe and back home again, from Greenland to Mexico, and from Dumbarton to locations across the Highlands. There’s something for everyone.”

The festival – staged in association with Tiso, Mountain Equipment, Alien Rock and Wilderness Scotland – expects big numbers from the climbing, snowsports, kayaking, adventure sports, outdoor photography and filmmaking communities; as well as those who love the outdoors, travel and mountain adventure, from all over the UK to attend the event.

From its humble beginnings in 2003, the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival has grown to be one of the most popular and dynamic events in Scotland’s outdoor adventure calendar, attracting in excess of 2,000 outdoor enthusiasts, annually.

For full details of the festival and how to buy tickets go to the EMFF website:



For downloadable images of speakers and stills from films, go to:


Media contact:

For information on the The 14th Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival, for images and to arrange interviews with festival director, Stevie Christie, or any of the guest speakers; or to arrange private viewings of selected films, please contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: / M: 07913 951717

Notes for editors:

* The 14th Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival takes place from 4-5 February 2017. The festival is staged in the George Square Lecture Theatre at Edinburgh University.

* Tickets cost from £7 – £14 and are available now from or on the door, subject to availability. Some sessions will sell-out in advance.

* The festival aims to promote mountain culture and provide a platform for adventure film-makers to showcase their work. In short, to entertain, enlighten and inspire. It also acts as a social gathering for Scotland’s vibrant outdoor scene. Finally, it raises funds for Mountain Rescue and the John Muir Trust.

The festival features lectures by leading mountaineers, adventurers and explorers, many short films and various exhibitions.

The full line-up will be announced soon.

The guest speakers are as follows:

Previous speakers include Sir Chris Bonington, Doug Scott, Ueli Steck, Simon Yates, Mark Beaumont, Benedict Allen, Catherine Destivelle and Andy Kirkpatrick.

Films referred to in this release have trailers as follows:

The Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival was first held in 2003.

Previous winners of the ‘Best Film Award’ are:

    • 2003: ‘Pushing Winter’ – a snowboarding film by Paul Raistrick of Aviemore
    • 2004: ‘Never Say Nevis Again’ – a kayaking film by Steve Rogers of Fort William
    • 2005: ‘Cano-Bagging’ – a ski mountaineering film by Blair Aitken of Edinburgh
    • 2006: ‘E11’ – Dave MacLeod’s landmark climbing film by Paul Diffley
    • 2007: ‘Scottish Extremities’ – a sea-kayaking film by Patrick Winterton
    • 2008: ‘Echo Wall’ – Dave MacLeod’s climb on Ben Nevis by Claire MacLeod
    • 2009: ‘The Sharp End’ – a climbing film by Sender Films of Colorado
    • 2010: ‘Solo’ – a sea kayaking adventure by Jennifer Peedom of Australia
    • 2011: ‘Eastern Rises’ – a Kamchatka adventure by Felt Soul Media of Colorado
    • 2012: ‘Cold’ – a winter ascent of Annapurna, by Anson Fogel of Colorado
    • 2014: ‘Distilled’ – a biopic of mountaineer Andy Cave by Paul Diffley
    • 2015: ‘Valley Uprising’ – a movie about Yosemite by Sender Films of Colorado
    • 2016: ‘Operation Moffat’ – Britain’s first female mountain guide, Gwen MoffatThe major sponsors of the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival 2017 are:
    • Tiso
    • Mountain Equipment
    • Alien Rock
    • Wilderness Scotland

The festival is also supported by the John Muir Trust, the National Trust for Scotland and EDV Productions.

The festival is always keen to hear from companies or organisations who are interested in being a sponsor.

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Contact: Paddy Cuthbert