Kendal Mountain Festival: See the Free Flight Movies

We round up the movies shown at Free Flight Night at the Kendal Mountain Festival 2014…

Free Flight Night at the Kendal Mountain Festival saw about 250 people pack the town hall to listen to Red Bull X-Alps pilot Tom de Dorlodot and moviemaker Shams.

The night, on Thursday 20 November, was the fourth Free Flight Night at the annual Kendal Mountain Festival, which is one of the world’s biggest film festivals about adventure sports.

With SIV instructor and local pilot Jocky Sanderson hosting the event, the crowd heard Shams – real name Adrien Nisan – explain how he got into moviemaking.

He said there had been two “revolutions” in the past few years that brought professional filmmaking to the mass market. “The first was the ability of the digital SLR to shoot high definition footage, the second was the introduction of the GoPro Hero. Now everyone could star as their own hero in their own movie.”

He said his biggest successes in filmmaking were when he followed his own ideas. He marked Paragliding Circus (2012), where acro pilot Gill Schneider flies above Annecy with trapeze artist Roxane Giliand as his breakthrough film.

“The reaction was amazing. Then everything changed.” As well as establishing his reputation as a unique eye, the film was shared around the world and the footage was bought by a Spanish production company for use in advertising. It also won Best Original Film at the Coupe Icare film festival.

Shams’s latest film, Sounds of Paragliding with Theo de Blic and sound engineer Thibaut Darscotte, was chosen as a Vimeo Staff Pick and has racked up 280,000 views. It was, he said, “Very, very difficult to make!”

Shams has 125 films on his Vimeo site.

Speaking in the second half of the evening professional adventure pilot Tom de Dorlodot took the audience on a journey through the Karakoram, as he flew close to K2 and above the mountain area of Concordia, surrounded by 8,000m peaks.

He described how as a 21-year-old pilot selected to take part in the Red Bull X-Alps he was completely unprepared for what lay ahead. “On my first night I had a Big Mac meal,” he said, raising a laugh. Today, nutrition is a key part of planning for the X-Alps, one of the toughest adventure races in the world.

Showing footage he had never publicly shown before he explained how hypoxia can give pilots a sense of false confidence at altitude. “That is probably why I am singing! Time to switch on the oxygen.”

He also talked about the Search Projects and meeting the demands of corporate sponsors.

“In Belgium we showed a room full of people from VW the advert we had made of their vehicle, the Amarok, that we used for our trip through Africa. It was a very serious meeting.

“Afterwards we waited and the boss of VW paused and said, ‘No. Not good enough. We want more paragliding.'”

The moment was, he said, a small vindication of what he was trying to do – to show the non-flying, non adventure-oriented public exactly what paragliding was all about. The final advert ran in cinemas across Belgium for six weeks.

On a personal note he said he had “fully recovered” from a bad accident this summer that saw him break his back. “Now it is all about training for the Red Bull X-Alps next year, and completing some vol-bivouac projects we have planned for South America.”

As well as de Dorlordot and Shams, the audience at Kendal saw several films, including Epic Aerials by the Green Twins, Ultimate Skydiving by David Arnaud, Touch by JB Chandelier and Shams and Ballon Highline by Seb Montaz.

Epic Aerials

Ultimate Skydiving


Ballon Highline

The Free Flight Night at Kendal Mountain Festival is part of the festival’s Adventure series, which aims to bring lesser-known adventure sports to a wider audience.

The festival sees more than 50 films screened over four days and attracts speakers from around the world. Founded in 2000 it is now one of the largest mountain film festivals in the world.

Kendal Mountain Festival.

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