The things some people will do "for the 'Gram", eh? The Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour rolls into Town Hall, March 18, and stars intrepid characters, extreme expeditions and stunning cinematography from the wildest corners of the planet. Here's just a few of the 15 short films that are showing.
Walking on Clouds: 7 minutes Filmmaker: Renan Kamizi
Brazilian engineer Rafael Bridi is on a quest to find complete freedom… we all are, Rafael... and his search has taken him above the clouds. Establishing a slackline between two hot air balloons over the Praia Grande in Brazil, Rafael is hoping to break the record for the world’s highest slackline walk. To succeed he will need motivation, discipline and balls of pure steel at almost 2000m above ground.
Colors of Mexico: 5 minutes Filmmakers: Pierre Henni, Kilian Bron
Swoop from Mexico’s active volcanos to the steep and colourful streets of its historic villages in this visual feast from French mountain biking phenomenon Kilian Bron. Teaming up with adventure filmmaker Pierre Henni, the dream team capture a melting pot of the country’s most unique sights – complete with nail-biting riding.
Free to Run: 31 minutes Filmmakers: Carrie Highman, Tim Highman
When the Taliban takes over Afghanistan, the basic human rights of women across the country are threatened. Mountain runner and UN human rights attorney Stephanie Case must fight to find a way forward for the Afghan women of her NGO, Free to Run, while taking on the longest and hardest ultra-trail race of her life.
Lapporten Skyline: 19 minutes Filmmaker: Emil Sergel
It's the Lickey Hills! Naaah just kidding. Described as the gateway to Lapland, the Lapporten Gap is one of the most photographed natural landforms in Sweden… but some of the world’s top highliners have grander ambitions. They plan to put up a two-kilometre long highline across. If they succeed, it will be a new world record. The hell's wrong with people?
A Baffin Vacation: 12 minutes Filmmakers: Sarah McNair-Landry, Erik Boomer
Most summer holidays don’t involve skiing hundreds of kilometres over a frozen fjord in the Arctic Circle — I'm off to Lanzarote, for example — but adventurers Erik Boomer and Sarah McNair-Landry are not into the Canaries. On a romantic getaway with a difference, the duo set off on a 45-day expedition through the remote landscape of Baffin Island in Canada, in search of stunning cliffs to climb and unexplored rivers to white-water kayak.
FLOW: 5 minutes Filmmaker: Maxime Moulin
Big mountain skier Sam Favret explores the closed resort of Chamonix during the unusual winter of 2021. With spectacular aerial footage of iconic mountain faces, this captivating short offers a dose of unreality, serenity and Sam's powerful skiing, but above all the pleasure of rediscovering a playground allowed to return back to its wild state.
Bridge Boys: 28 minutes Filmmakers: Nick Rosen, Peter Mortimer
Kept away from towering cliffs abroad because of lockdown, top British climbers Pete Whittaker and Tom Randall are forced to look closer to home for adventure. I say "forced", nobody forced them. Enter one of the most unusual climbs ever attempted – a 2600ft horizontal groove beneath a motorway bridge on the M5. Sleeping on ledges suspended from the bridge, the pair face ferocious climbing moves, bridge-shaking traffic and police suspicion on this mad Devon challenge.
Wild Waters: 45 minutes Filmmaker: David Arnaud
Adventurer, competitor, pioneer and badass human are all words used to describe French kayaker Nouria Newman. As she prepares to become the first female to run a 100ft waterfall, Wild Waters follows Nouria’s journey from young Olympic hopeful to one of the greatest kayakers of all time. However, running some of the world’s hardest white-water isn't Nouria's biggest challenge. Realising that the expectations placed upon her as both an athlete and as a woman weigh heavily on her decisions and ambitions, she pushes back to make her own path.
See the full Red Schedule here and the full Blue Schedule here
👇 ALLITERATIVE ARTINESS 👇
First rule of Journalism School: If in doubt, alliterate. It's an ethos that's embraced by Resorts World Birmingham who, in the forthcoming three months, have gorgeous sounding art classes taking place in their equally gorgeous rooftop Secret Garden, at Sky By The Water.
Paint & Prosecco, Caligraphy & Cake and Fold & Fizz (see!) are all inbound between now and late May, promising guests a good ol' time, but also something rather splendid to take home, too.
Paint & Prosecco (March 18, £32) sees Brummie art royalty, Milan Topalović, steer a bubbles-powered acrylic workshop with students painting a simple, beautiful, floral design; a perfect gift, to frame for home, or as a Mother’s Day card. The two-hour class includes refreshments and a glass of Prosecco. Milan, by the way, is an absolute superstar and will be a standout teacher. He's lectured at Birmingham City University too, so this isn't his first rodeo.
The second of the series lands on April 22 and costs £49 per person. Calligraphy & Cake will give you the chance to pen something genuinely beautiful and you get to take a starter kit home with you. Suitable for beginners, it doesn't matter if you have bad handwriting or are left handed (smudgy-smudgy) because artist, Kirstie Bird, has got your back. Kirstie teaches fun and relaxed workshops and has been imparting her callig' knowledge for over 4 years. There are two workshop times available,12pm and 3pm).
Last up and on May 20 is Fold & Fizz (£32). This two-hour origami workshop is with Esther Thorpe from Origami Est, who has a background in teaching primary school kids, so can get even the most fingers-and-thumbsy beginner to produce something they'll feel super proud of. Her Instagram is properly beautiful and check out those fairy lights (pictured) — that's what you'll be making! Again a glass of Prosecco is included. More
A hello you gorgeous city, you. A new-look AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run has been revealed with the start line at the city’s showpiece Centenary Square and finish line at Smithfield.
This year’s 10k and half marathon routes showcase the best of Birmingham city centre and beyond and take in historic St Paul’s Square in the JQ (pictured) for both distances and picturesque Cannon Hill Park for the 13.1-miler.
Taking place on Sunday, May 7, across that long Bank Holiday weekend, entries are now open for the Midlands’ biggest and best running event, with thousands of Brummie runners and walkers planning to take to the streets to challenge themselves or raise cash for charidee, mate.
This year’s event will feature everything you’d expect from a Great Run – start line excitement, top on-route entertainment and an event village that feels more like an after party – but the carnival atmosphere and the passion and spirit of the runners is all about Brum. Runners can look forward to inspiring sights and incredible support all along the 10k and half marathon route.
Starting on Broad Street at Centenary Square, runners will head for the city’s world-famous Jewellery Quarter, passing the Chamberlain Clock at Warstone Lane and Vyse Street, beautiful St Paul’s Square and a city-centre route that features the Mailbox, Grand Central at New Street station, St Martin’s Church, Southside and Digbeth.
Half-marathon participants will follow the same iconic landmarks before heading out of the city centre along Pershore Road, reaching Selly Park at eight miles and a return route that takes in Cannon Hill Park and Edgbaston Stadium.
Both distances enjoy a grandstand finish at the Smithfield site near Bullring; home to Commonwealth Games beach volleyball and basketball.
Finishers will collect a shiny new AJ Bell Great Birmingham Run medal, an exclusive (optional) finisher’s t-shirt plus a finisher’s bag filled with goodies. Runners Rewards – access to special offers for participants, from partners and sponsors as a well done are also available via the Great Run app. More
UNLOCK THE VAULT
If you've not seen The Vaults area of the University of Birmingham's Exchange building then now — and for free — is most certainly the time.
The Exchange is the historic old municipal bank located on Centenary Square, opposite the Library. Designed by Thomas Cecil Howitt (the same architect as the nearby Baskerville House) the Grade II listed building was completed in 1933 to house the newly founded civic institution.
In the basement, though, is where you'll find the art deco Vaults, home to thousands of small security lockboxes where Brummies of yesteryear might keep heirlooms or wads of cash. Rubbing shoulders with those lockboxes, right now and until October 28, is an exhibition entitled A Place To Call Home. Home, for most of us, can be a joyful space where we hold celebrations and express ourselves, somewhere we associate with food, family and comfort. But it can be an uncertain place too — perhaps somewhere we’ve had to leave behind. Not everyone has a place to call home and this exhibition, curated by experts at the Uni, invites guests to see homelessness, adult social care and displacement through the eyes of people with lived experience.
From the histories of homelessness, spanning Victorian and Edwardian times, to present day tales, it's an at times jarring and important collection of stories and lessons, presented in the sort of location our city has often been guilty of assigning to the past with a wrecking ball. A real must and with no charge.
As part of the same season of events, artists and Brum's enfants terribles, Foka Wolf and Tat Vision, will feature in a late night event entitled Who Cares? which is aimed at highlighting the challenges faced by people with learning disabilities and autistic people currently stuck in hospital settings for many years with no planned leaving date. Though that one is almost sold out there are a raft of other events, talks and workshops inbound, the season continuing through to April and beyond with, for example, a night of poetry and performance in aid of the National Literacy Trust, hosted by Booker prize-nominee Max Porter. More
One of the seven natural wonders of the Birmingham world (something I've just made up, but will set my mind to compiling, in full, immediately), the Brindleyplace cherry blossoms have started their annual Oozells Square bloom — a little earlier than usual — and you're strongly advised to pop by and check them out.
Taking things a step further this year, though, the holy trinity of Ikon, the National Trust and Brindleyplace have teamed up to launch a photography competition centring around the blush botanical beauties and anyone can and should enter.
All you need to do is take a photo of the cherry blossoms and pop them on your Instagram complete with the hashtags #BlossomWatch and #BrindleyBlossomWatch. Be sure to tag both @brindleyplace and @ikongallery too. Do this before midnight on March 22 and that's your part of the bargain done. All submissions will then go in front of a panel of judges who'll pick three winners. These three winning images will be framed and displayed at Ikon Gallery from March 31 until April 14, while one overall winner will also have their image printed on postcards to be sold in the Ikon shop. Winning entrants can then keep their framed artwork.
Snappery aside the blossoms will also be the site of a free open-air concert, on April 2, when Birmingham Contemporary Music Group descend on Oozells Square to add their orchestral aceness to nature's painting. Stick 3pm in your diary for that moment of Brum magic.
DEGREE FOR FREE
A lot of the good that Millennium Point does goes under the radar, so how about a little shout out for this initiative that might interest you or someone you know. Want to design bridges, stop the next cyber threat, or be the whizz behind the next best-selling video game? Applications for Millennium Point and Birmingham City University's life-changing free Scholarship are now open. Applicants must be 18 and looking to start an undergraduate degree by September 2023. The chosen one (chill out, this isn't Jedi school) will get their degree fully paid for which, in this day and age, is basically winning the lottery. The Millennium Point Trust and Birmingham City University will award one lucky winner a fully funded undergraduate degree at the Faculty of Computing, Engineering, and the Built Environment. Now in its 9th year, this opportunity comes with over 20 courses to choose from. Applications close on March 17, 2023. More
Last time Adam Prunell, AKA Shropshire Lad, made a weekend-long appearance at Hockley Social Club it was such a hit that supplies on the Sunday were running low. He's no doubt factored in the gargantuan Brummie appetite for his next over-coal grilling session this Friday, Saturday and (all being well) Sunday, again at Brum's home of street food, in Hockley. The menu is preposterously appealing. The Cheeky Chuck burger consists of smoked ox cheek, Hereford smashed patty, Shropshire blue, charred cabbage, pickles and the Lad's burger sauce, all on brioche. Mushrumami Sarnie is keeping the veggie end up — charcoal grilled 'shrooms, smoked tomatoes, celeriac string fries and wild garlic mayo, again on brioche. Also on the menu are Queenies (Isle of Man queen scallops, chorizo, red miso butter), hotwax chilli poppers (grilled Hungarian hotwax chillies, whipped feta and preserved lime) and tequila slammer oysters. Walk-ins only. More
RETURN OF THE RABBIT
From Cape Town to Kilder, via Carters, Brum-based chef, Ash Valenzuela-Heeger will, this weekend, put on an early contender for 'must-attend' food event of the year.
South African chef Ash (above) ran the Riverine Rabbit restaurant, back in Cape Town, from 2018 until a certain pandemic put pay to pretty much anything any of us were doing. It was love — and a Sous Chef role at Carters of Moseley — that brought her to Brum, once hospitality started opening back up, her wife Erin then in the middle of a PhD at the University of Birmingham where she remains as a Research Fellow. It's with Erin's help, though, that Ash has now gone solo, here in Brum, and is reviving the Riverine Rabbit and its locally sourced, South African recipe ethos.
"When I left South Africa in the mass chaos of the pandemic, I had to close The Rabbit without any sort of goodbye for myself or the team," Ash tells us. "It was a really sad ending to what had been an incredible journey up until that point.
"When I got to Brum, it was a totally new city to me and I didn't know what to expect. Fast forward three years and I've completely fallen in love with Birmingham and it seems like the perfect time and place to bring The Rabbit back to life. I can't wait to show the city what we are all about."
The Riverine Rabbit, which received rave reviews back in its day, will re-emerge under the arches near Selfridges, at craft beer bar Kilder tomorrow (5pm to 10pm), Saturday (midday to 10pm) and Sunday (midday until sold out). And for the time being they are the only three dates — it's walk-ins only, too, no bookings.
Pictured below is Ash's honey cured beef with rice paper and XO (£11) which sits alongside other big hitting dishes like grilled mackerel with shiso and yuzu (£8) and barbecued scallop, grapefruit, lemon and orange (£11). A lovely flourish on the menu, which is small plates style, is the caviar with Pom Bears, sour cream and chive (£6) which is, indeed, a packet of every three year old's favourite snack combined with the extravagant roe delicacy. More
Experimental music and arts festival, Supersonic, has announced its 2023 line-up and, although I've only just heard of them Ex Easter Island Head is my new favourite band. September 1 to 3, tickets (£160) are also now on sale here —
Brummie walker-author, Brian J Rance, has circumnavigated the West Mids (clockwise, if you're asking) and written about it. If, like me, walking is rapidly becoming your only exercise option, it's a heck of a guide to local rambles. £14.95 —
At least 50 hot air balloons will take to the skies as part of Worcester Balloon Festival, May 12 and 13. Tickets are from £3.25 and further details are found on Facebook, here —
Like the opening scenes of an episode of The Last Of Us, STEAMhouse is the venue for a talk about how fungi can be used as an artistic material, March 15, 6pm to 8pm and free. What could possibly go wrong? —
That nice Simon Reeve, the travelling chap on the BBC, is going on tour (of course he is) and tickets are now on sale for his October date at Symphony Hall. £33 —
Symphony Hall's sister venue, Town Hall, is the stage for the Brum leg of comedian and Greeter's Guild top dog, Troy Hawke's, tour. Tickets go on general sale tomorrow (March 3) at 10am. Shoulders back, get in there and smash it. —
Managed to get my mitts on photos of a few dishes from The Wilderness's new Nostalgia menu and Oy Papi does it look good.
WORDS: Tom Cullen
PICS: Greg Milner (The Exchange Vault)
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