Feature Films You Won't Want To Miss





In a time of uncertain politics and a crescendo of differences, Ultra-Runner Rickey Gates sets off on foot across America. In the midst of the 2016 National Elections, which saw Republican candidate Donald Trump win the presidential elections, Gates realised that the America he knew wasn’t necessarily the America that was. Intrigued and curious, Gates decides to head out and see for himself in order to try understand and empathise with his fellow Americans. Starting out on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, Gates journey takes him 5 months and nearly 3700 Miles to the Pacific Ocean in San Francisco, California. What begins as a search for the true America, during a period of political turmoil, ultimately becomes a story of identity as Gates begins to find clarity and meaning in his own life.

Screening at Run Films 4: Book now


For centuries, the Darhat people have protected the border between Mongolia and Russian Siberia. A nomadic population, the Darhat are famous for their breeding of powerful white horses with which they migrate from steppe to steppe. But for the last few years, thieves have been seizing the Darhat's horses and selling them to Russian slaughterhouses. When his white stallion disappears, Shukhert, a Darhat horseman, decides to pursuit the bandits with many odds against him, to find his horse and bring him back in time for winter. From Buddhism to shamanism, from horses to reindeer, from hunters to gold searching, his journey is full of encounters that are all combined to understand the mosaic of a complex region, crossed by multiple ethnic and socio-economic tensions. This extraordinary oriental western-style documentary features epic chases through the grandiose landscapes of northern Mongolia.

Screening on the indoor and outdoor screen at Spirit of Adventure 4: Book now


"I started splashing around in kayaks before I could walk and devoted myself to paddling full time at the age of 14. Like most kayakers of my generation, I regarded Scott Lindgren as one of the greatest filmmakers and kayakers our sport has ever known. Much like Warren Miller did for skiing, Scott redefined the genre of whitewater films. But he was not content just staying behind the camera, he was also breaking boundaries on the river, paddling some of the most difficult whitewater in the world. I had posters of his movies on my bedroom wall. I never thought I'd be making a documentary about him. "The River Runner" follows Scott's twenty-year quest to become the first person to kayak the four great rivers that flow off the flanks of Tibet's Mt. Kailash, a sacred site that pilgrims from four major religions visit in search of enlightenment. Scott had a tough upbringing and was notorious for his sharp edges. On the river, that unsentimental attitude helped him do things no one ever had. But off the river, he struggled with the same challenges many of us face: trauma, addiction, and, most significantly, a brain tumor. It was only by learning to open his heart that Scott was finally able to accomplish his goals, a lesson we can all appreciate on our journey down the toughest river of all, the river of life. I hope my audience feels the weight of Scott’s personal journey and the lengths he went to become the person he is now. It’s never too late to change, and it’s never too late to follow your dreams. I believe this film is a testament to that." Rush Sturges, Director

Screening at Water Films 4: Book now


In faraway Eastern Nepal, there is a holy mountain Kumbhakarna (aka Jannu). Its peak is home to gods and demons. No man can touch its slopes and it is believed that a Sherpa who dares set foot on the mountain, will die. It is also a Himalayan peak (7710m) famous for its 3000m unclimbed east face, the most difficult climb in modern alpinism and the top trophy. The Westerners’ and local people’s attitude to the mountain is a world apart. Ngada Sherpa is the best high-altitude porter in the area. He has climbed Everest nine times Everest, two times Kanchenjunga. Despite the fact that for a decade Ngada has worked with international expeditions, his family lives on the edge of poverty. One day Ngada is offered work on an expedition to the forbidden Kumbhakarna. Taking part is opposing his faith and lamas’ warnings. The stakes are high. If Ngada agrees, he will earn big money and pay for first two years of his son Dawa's medical school in Kathmandu. In February 2019 the expedition of the world-class alpinists starts on Jannu with the aim to conquer the unclimbed wall of the mountain. There are Marcin Tomaszewski, one of the most prominent Polish climbers and two eminent Russian climbers, Dmitry Golovchenko and Sergey Nilov, the double recipients of ‘the climbing Oscar’: Piolet d’Or. The massive snow fall will not leave the expedition to the end and it is only the beginning of mounting up troubles. Will Gods of Kumbhakarna forgive the people for their insolence. Telling a story from the Sherpas’ perspective presents the meeting of two worlds and the clash of values.

Screening at Mountain Films 5: Book now


During the Cold War, Poland’s youth looked for any way to break away from the monotony of life under Communist rule. In the City of Krakow, a group of university students formed a kayaking club as a tool to explore their local rivers and avoid participation in Communist parades and rallies. After experiencing the thrill of Poland’s one and only class III rapid, club members Andrzej Pietowski, Piotr Chmielinski (who would go on to be the first person to paddle the Amazon river source to sea), and Jurek Majcherczyk set their sights on the impossible - leaving the Eastern Bloc to paddle whitewater. Godspeed, Los Polacos! tells the story of five university students on the edge of adulthood who skillfully pull the strings of the Soviet system, and find themselves on a kayaking expedition in the Americas with a six-wheeled military truck, homemade equipment, and little to no whitewater skills. The story follows their epic two-year journey that culminates in the record-breaking first descent of the world’s deepest canyon and finds the kayakers in Soviet cross-hairs after they leverage their newfound fame to fight for democracy in the Eastern Bloc.

Screening at Water Films 3: Book now

If you can't make it to the festival in person, most of the programme will be available online for 1 month from 9 July 2021: Watch via ShAFF Online