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Spling's Top 3 - Cape Union Mart's 'Adventure Film Challenge' 2018


The Adventure Film Challenge hosted and run by Cape Union Mart saw more than 50 short film submissions this year, about 300% up from 2017. In previous years, the film competition was open to amateur filmmakers only. This year, the Adventure Film Challenge opened to professional local filmmakers too, which saw a major improvement in the quality of the average short film. The winning short film receives R10,000 in cash, K-Way gear to the value of R5,000 and gets screened at the Banff Mountain Film Festival in Cape Town between 26 October and 4 November.

Adventure Film Challenge

The judging panel event at Cape Union Mart's head office in Cape Town, saw eleven of the best submissions being assessed by 20 judges handpicked from within the film industry and outdoor community, evaluated on a score sheet that covered various aspects of the film-making process including: writing, story, creativity, originality, cinematography, editing, sound design and authenticity.

From downhill skateboarding to whitewater canoeing, the adventure films covered a number of adventure sports. Moving from inspirational character portraits and manifestos to water conservation, there was a variety of short films ranging from inspirational biographical drama to lighthearted comedy. Some were short and sweet, checking in at two minutes while others pushed towards the maximum duration of 5 minutes.

Spling attended the judging event, having advised on the score sheet and gave the panel some tips on what to look out for in assessing the films. From the post-film discussion the panel presented a number of insightful points, offering incisive opinions on where the short films could have done better and praising the filmmakers who had done an outstanding job. The cinematography was generally good, taking full advantage of South Africa's beautiful locations with many filmmakers adopting a narration format. While some of the writing was cliched, the level of film-making was generally good. Several of the films had the subjects narrating their own films, which presented some problems in terms of how their voice-overs translated.

The storytelling was quite mixed with some stories failing to capture the audience's attention beyond the visuals. The filmmakers that created compelling and engaging stories made it easier for judges to forgive the technical glitches. Then, some of the short films struggled to follow-through... either feeling anti-climactic, pointless or not keeping story or genre focus. The sound also divided the good from great with some productions undervaluing the sound design component from foley work to the quality of the voice recording.

#1 THE LANDSCAPE HUNTER

The Landscape Hunter is a story about Thomas Ferreira, a photographer who has traveled the world looking for the perfect photo. Casey Crafford's beautifully photographed short film follows his journey in South Africa, adopting an otherworldliness as he traverses several landscapes in a drought-stricken Western Cape to uncover a lost remnant. A pulsating soundtrack and dust land horizons give the film a sci-fi quality... powered by enigmatic visuals and a curious narration moving from the character's quest to overarching concerns affecting the region.

#2 SHE IS SOMETHING FIERCE

Bouldering is an up-and-coming rock climbing sport, which is explored in greater detail in She is Something Fierce. Scaling difficult rock formations and artificial climbing walls without harnesses, this gritty short film follows dedicated boulderer, Zoe Duby, who narrates a story about her passion for the sport, the hard training involved and the nature of bouldering through footage of her in action. Covering a number of popular bouldering spots in and around the Cape Town region, this tough-as-nails woman literally gets to grips with the rigours and perseverance involved in a sleek introduction to the sport and a compelling character portrait.

#3 NICK

Nick is a character portrait of a young downhill skateboarder. Engaging, honest and disarmingly candid, the passionate and committed skater boy speaks of his dedication and love for skateboarding. From surgeries to scars, we learn of the dangers he's endured and his persistence to say true to himself. Nick talks about the sport, his gear and features some sleek footage of him in action across Cape Town. Nick's upfront style and natural charm carries the film, offering some funny remarks and inspiration to get involved!