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International, independent, e-magazine on skydiving, BASE & tunnel

Freedom of Flight Film Festival

by Sam Bartholomew
by Sam Bartholomew

A film festival dedicated to adventure flying based in NZ

What is the Freedom of Flight Film Festival?

The Freedom of Flight Film Festival is a not-for-profit NZ based film festival showcasing international and NZ adventure flying films that was established in 2017.

Our aim is to promote adventure flying in its various forms and its culture to the widest possible audience in New Zealand. The film festival showcases international and NZ films about adventure flying including speedflying, hang gliding, sail planes, paragliding, base jumping, skydiving and wingsuit flying.

There are four categories of films:

  • NZ short films
  • NZ feature length films
  • International short films
  • International feature length films

There are multiple awards for specific categories and overall festival awards including a people's choice award.

Who is involved?

by Sam Bartholomew
by Sam Bartholomew

Myself (Sam Bartholomew), Pedro Pimentel, Louis Tapper, with support from the rest of the NZ flying community.

I started flying paragliders in 2010 after following my wife around paragliding for three years doing the driving and retrievals. Eventually I decided it was better to fly. I love watching films, especially the ones with great stories and characters. I met both Pedro and Louis through the world of paragliding. I am a husband and father and have always loved adventure be it skiing/snowboarding, being in the mountains, climbing, mountain biking and general travel. Self exploration and realisation is a key part for me and as a family we practice Ashtanga yoga. I work as a doctor which has also helped me find adventure by travelling with work to the Sub-Antarctic and Antarctica.

I am an ideas guy, I have thousands of them and it drives both my wife Nadia and my friends a bit nuts. Occasionally one of them is a winner and with support of family and good friends it flourishes. This is becoming one of my best ideas!

I met Pedro walking up a hill about four years ago. The plan was to take off for a morning flight but nature chose for us to talk rather than fly (blowing a gale at the top) so that was the start of many philosophical discussions about life, flying and family. Pedro has been involved in more activities than can be counted on both your hands - slack lining, adventure motorbike riding, skydiving, skiing, mountaineering, paragliding, speed flying etc. His passions lie in filmmaking, speedflying, general adventure and his family, being a father himself. His skills and knowledge as a filmmaker and contacts have been a critical part in us coming so far so quickly with an increasingly polished product.

I met Louis a couple of years ago over a coffee, discussing a film idea about flying. Over this time, we have got to know each other and I have come to the realisation that Louis is a very focused and practical person, exactly what I sometimes need to curb my busy head. He is obsessed with paragliding and is a excellent pilot with many flying achievements, amongst them having represented NZ in the PWC (Paragliding World Championship) 2017. He is always trying to find a way to move forwards in the world of flying but at the same time wishes to give back and bring the community together. His connections and eye for great films have been hugely valuable in creating the festival.

The rest of the NZ flying community has been super supportive and everyone has wanted to see us succeed for the greater good of the adventure flying community and I have to say we wouldn’t be where we are if it wasn’t for the NZ and international adventure flying community - so thank you.

by Sam Bartholomew
by Sam Bartholomew

How did the Festival start?

Well it started from a silver lining. I was actually in hospital having had a paragliding accident having broken my back and needing spinal surgery. There I was lying in hospital contemplating the flying world, what it meant to me and was it all worth it. I realised that the thing that I loved most was sharing my experiences with other pilots, friends and family. I wanted to help the community come together, see what others were up to and share their adventures. So the idea of a film contest for paragliders, speedflyers and hang gliders started to develop, with my main wish to try and get people doing cross discipline films. I had no idea how to do this but as a great adventurer Don McIntyre once said to me, not knowing how to do something is not a reason not to do it, just start and you will find people to help, books on what to do or just Google it!

It actually nearly didn’t happen. I had a small amount of film competition submissions from NZ pilots, as that was the initial aim, though I was concerned it might not be enough. But it was meant to be one small show anyway. Then I spoke to Pedro and Louis about it. Pedro and I had been working on a film for ourselves and decided to enter that and both Louis and Pedro had the great idea of showcasing films that had been made and inspired us as well as the small contest. With Louis’s contacts and me randomly emailing people next thing I knew I was messaging with Gavin McClurg, Veso Ovcharov, Artefact, Arvid Berg, Matjaz Klemenic and many others in the middle of the night - time differences ! Lucky I work night shifts! I didn’t have a film contest but instead we found ourselves with a three-hour long film festival!

The first show was meant to be it - one show! However, the word spread and five Shows later - Christchurch, Wellington, Hawkes Bay, Queenstown and Wanaka with several hundred people attending - we had created something I couldn’t have ever imagined. Another good friend and mentor, Peter Sanson, once said to me: “There are only three ways in which things occur in life: less than you expect, more than you expect, but most commonly completely different to what you expect.” So here we are.

Our most recent show was specially curated with a totally new lineup of films for the NZ Paragliding Open in Wanaka on Feb 3rd this year. We were so stoked to have people on board such as the Flying Frenchies, Goupil Studios, Thibault Cheval, Max Romey, Fly the Earth, Veso Ovcharov and Antoine Girard. With an increasingly polished product and the NZ and international adventure flying community on board we knew we were doing something right.

We are currently taking film submissions for our 2018 NZ tour being held later in the year.

Where can you see a show?

It is a NZ based film festival, with shows this year running from November to December. We plan to have shows in Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown/Wanaka, Hawkes Bay, Nelson and Auckland and are currently booking venues.

The festival is suitable for all ages, each show will be on for one or two nights at each location and lasts for approx. two hours (varying on films selected). We encourage all those interested in adventure flying to attend whether you are a pilot or not.

Tickets for this year will be $20pp and tickets will go on sale online later this year.

Updates are made regularly on the website regards venues and dates.

To give you an idea of what to expect here is a short video looking back at one of our shows in Queenstown NZ in 2017:

How does someone get their film into the festival?

Submissions for the 2018 NZ Tour are currently open and you can submit your entry via the web page at the film submissions section

Submissions close on August the 1st, 2018

We have four categories to submit to, NZ short films, NZ feature length films, International short films, International feature length films

The focus is on the adventure, story and the people involved.

We will then assess all the submissions for selection via a selection panel and decide which films will be shown across NZ.

The films selected are then also up for awards overall and in their specific category. We have a judging panel made up of filmmakers and adventure flying enthusiasts and general public to judge the films for awards such as best of category, smile award, adventurer award and others. We also have the People's Choice Award voted by the audience.

Some of the previous films that have been shown include;

Give me Five by The Flying Frenchies, South Island Gliding Championships 2017

by Max Romey Productions, Fly Again by Fly The Earth, Bob je quitte le navire

by Goupil Studio, original idea from Thibault Cheval, Flying to 8000m by Antoine Girard, Fly by Fenella Bowater, Intention by Pedro Pimentel Visuals & Sam Bartholomew, SEIKOBOY by Maeva Giacometti, North of Known, by Reel Water Productions, Supercharged Freedom Fighter’s by Arvid Berg, Speed Run Project Zoncolan by Matjaz Klemenic and Organya Dark Side by Artefact.

Here are the teaser trailers from our recent Wanaka one of show in Feb 2018 and our NZ tour 2017.

How is the Film Festival Supported and how you can help?

We are a not-for-profit film festival and rely on ticket sales, public funding, sponsorship and volunteers.

We are in the process of becoming a registered charity under the title of the Freedom of Flight Charitable Trust. We have a very broad audience across NZ and due to having film categories based on international submissions we also have international support and connections. We are actively seeking public funding, sponsorship and volunteers. We are always keen to hear your ideas or how you might be able to help and you can contact us through our FB page or web page.

Without the support of others, we would not be where we are now and ongoing support will allow us to grow and deliver an ever better product to support the adventure flying community and educate the general public adventure flying world and share your passion with people across NZ.

What is going on for the FoFFF in 2018?

2018 being our Second year is busy and full of change and exciting times. We had a great 2017 but know to succeed and deliver a great festival ongoing we want to push for the best.

We are currently open for film submissions and have a brand new web page to facilitate this. Creating the Charitable Trust is key to making sure we keep to our main aim and support the adventure flying community and educate the general public and make sure this is for the community.

We are currently securing venues for shows which will be across NZ and held in November and December. We are securing small cinema venues with capacity from 60 up to 200 per show. We hope these venues will allow for the best possible viewing by creating an intimate and comfortable experience matched with high quality digital projection and top end audio.

We will be looking for sponsorship, public funding and volunteers throughout the year. Only with the support of the community, filmmakers and support of those excited and engaged with what we are doing can we create this film festival. We are always happy to discuss how you can help us.

What is the Future for the FoFFF?

As mentioned we are becoming a Charitable Trust that will be called the Freedom of Flight Charitable Trust. Under this heading we will organise and provide the Freedom of of Flight film festival annually across NZ.

by Sam Bartholomew
by Sam Bartholomew

However, our aims are higher than just the Film Festival. We hope to create or support events across NZ in the future with the aim of supporting the adventure flying community and educating the general public. Some possibilities include;

  • Short story evenings from adventures from multiple disciplines of adventure flying held across NZ.
  • Demonstrations, flying gatherings and competitions with a mix of disciplines. With additional focus on encouraging general public involvement and viewing.
  • Involvement in supporting people flying who may find access to the flying world limited by certain barriers such as physical, social or financial.

The options are limitless as is the world of adventure flying.

We are currently developing a website for the Charitable Trust that will allow updates on new projects and have links to ways in which individuals through to big organisations can help. We would also love to hear your ideas or how we could support them becoming a reality.

The Freedom of Flight Charitable Trust and Film Festival for adventure pilots and love of flying, a way to share our world.

Film Festival Email address:

Charitable Trust Email address: