Ben Willis
Written by Ben Willis
Published on 17th January 2020
8 min read
Powerful, purpose-driven adventure films that matter return to the big screen next month in London for the second edition of Adventure Uncovered's Film Festival. Expect to see and hear new perspectives, changing narratives, untold stories and rules being broken.

A Navajo shepherdess eking out a living in the face of environmental and social change. A conservationist who combines her love of climbing and music to capture the astonishing soundscapes of wild places. A cycling activist who uses the power of two wheels to help build community cohesion. These are three of the stories that will feature in the Adventure Uncovered Film Festival 2020, a cinematic celebration of adventure filmmaking with a purpose. Kicking off in London on 6 February before touring the UK, AUFF is the only adventure film festival dedicated to showcasing adventure stories with social and environmental narratives.

Here are details of the winning films of the six festival categories, as chosen by our judges and the Adventure Uncovered Committee. The People’s Choice for overall winner will be voted for at the festival launch on 6 February.

Wild Swim – winner, Short Film 

Wild Swim is a collaboration born out of a shared love of wild swimming between Kate Drucquer, Whitney Blank and Amy Walker. Amy was living in the Yorkshire Dales while the film was shot so there were many beautiful swimming spots to choose from, but Janet's Foss waterfall proved the perfect location. The film brings together ideas around swimming for positive mental health and the joys of body acceptance in the wild swimming community.

wild swim

Directed by Kate Drucquer and Whitney Blank, starring Amy Walker.

Undercurrents – winner, New Talent 

"The sea's got so many different faces and so many rhythms and I think a person’s life does, so that's going to mirror that. See how your life fits into the sea or how the sea fits into your life," says Arlene Maltman, former European & British surfing champion, who along with yogi, surf instructor and marine activist, Natalie Fox, takes centre stage in Undercurrents, a film that explores the human relationship to the sea and what happens when we pursue what we love. Throughout the film, pair share their unique experiences and relationships with the sea. Neuroscientist and mindfulness innovator Dr Tamara Russell, and Blue Health coach/Blue Mind advocate, Lizzi Larbalestier, provide expertise on how our minds and bodies are connected to the ocean and how this can have a benefit on our health and wellbeing.

Undercurrents

Directed by Bronwyn Harvey and Christina Baldwin.

The Shepherdess – winner, Environmental Spotlight

A Navajo shepherdess perseveres in a rapidly vanishing way of life, despite extreme drought on the reservation. “We didn’t even go up the mountain because there’s no water,” she recounts. “Hardships are just lessons and challenges in life and you just can’t dwell on it, you have to live through it.”

Life of Pie – winner, Social Spotlight

When Jen Zeuner and Anne Keller moved to the tiny, conservative high desert town of Fruita, Colorado almost 20 years ago it was not on the map as a mountain biking destination; now it’s as renowned to cyclists as Moab, Utah. Unlike Moab, Fruita isn’t just known for it’s riding – you go there to eat hot pie. Jen and Anne weren’t shy about using their lesbian innuendos to sell pizza, even from the beginning. Slogans like ‘friends let friends eat hot pie’ and ‘we snatch kisses and vice versa’ were on free stickers by the cash register even when Fruita wasn’t quite ready for it. Jen is a former competitive BMX rider and World Cup downhill mountain biker and Anne is a contributing photographer for Bike magazine, so when they’re not slinging pizza until they literally run out of dough you’ll find them out riding their favourite loops with their dogs.

Creek Sessions – winner, Adventure Uncovered

Nature has a rhythm – it just takes one to tune into it. Jess Kilroy – musician, climber and conservationist – travels to wilderness areas, creating music from the natural sounds she finds there, with the goal of sparking people's love for these wildlands. The Creek Sessions follows Jess on a sensory journey to create music in Utah’s Indian Creek, wooing us with the splendour of the desert, and reminding us that wild places are worth protecting not simply for their landscapes, but for their soundscapes too.

A Meaningful Journey | Connection – winner, Impact

Sat on top of two wheels, James Lucas, and his bike, are a vehicle for change. Born from a fragment of an idea James had on a cycle trip through Norway, the Bristol Bike Project is the beating heart for mobilising local people on bikes. Through the people James meets and connects to everyday, a life in motion can have a powerful transformation for yourself and a community.

A Meaningful Journey | Connection

Directed by Sim Warren, Produced by Jeffrey Bowman, Jorrit Jorritsma, Starring James Lucas and Bristol Bike Project Team

More than films

During its outings at all locations, the festival will screen 30 inspiring short films, with up to 15 shown at each venue. The events will also feature talks and workshops from expert filmmakers, covering topics such as shooting films on a smartphone and visual storytelling.

This year Adventure Uncovered is also excited to launch RethinKIT, an exhibition showcasing the outdoor industry’s most responsible organisations making a difference and using their products or services as a force for good. As well as hearing from leading brands on the latest innovations in low-impact gear and new circular business models, attendees will be able to learn about how to repair, swap or share outdoor kit and gear.

The team from Loanhood will organise the Swap/Share and The Seam will be on hand to fix your outdoor kit. To beat the queues, either arrive early from 5pm when doors open or book a slot at support@theseam.london with a short description of the item and a picture.

There will also be an opportunity to map the UK's adventure hotspots with a live 'UK Adventures, Uncovered' map for all to share their best UK adventure experiences, a new collaboration with London-based mural artist Bryony Benge-Abbott.

Full details on the festival, workshops and tickets can be found here