Mountaineering legend Simone Moro coming for film festival

Jun 05, 2024

New Zealand Mountain Film & Book Festival director Mark Sedon says it’s a real coup to have Italian mountaineer Simone Moro speaking at this year’s events in Wānaka and Queenstown.

However, he suggests “wearing an extra puffy jacket when you come along to hear Moro speak as his stories will be chilling and harrowing”.

Festival fans may remember the 2011 film ‘Cold’ that featured Mr Moro alongside American climber Corey Richards and Russian-Polish climber Denis Urubko as they made the first winter ascent of one of Pakistan's 8,000-metre peaks. Mr Moro has gone on to make three more winter ascents on 8,000-metre peaks – a feat that no other climber has been able to match.

“He’s a mountaineering legend,” Mr Sedon says. “It’s hard enough climbing at 8,000 metres, but you have to be a bit crazy to even imagine climbing something like that in winter.”

Mr Moro’s achievements within high-altitude mountaineering are matched only by his feats of bravery.

In 2001, he abandoned his own attempt of the Everest-Lhotse Traverse, to save English climber Tom Moores, who was stuck on the west face of Lhotse. He endured horrific conditions in darkness, on his own, with an extremely high risk of avalanche and without supplementary oxygen.

Mr Moro was also the first European helicopter pilot qualified to fly in Nepal, and has completed numerous rescue operations from the air – including taking part in the highest long-line rescue at 7,800m on Everest in 2013.

Mr Moro will be speaking in Wānaka on Saturday, June 22 and Queenstown on Thursday, June 27. He is one of 17 speakers at this year’s festival, joined by Frederique Olivier, an accomplished field guide, naturalist, photographer, and documentary filmmaker, who has dedicated much of her career to exploring the polar regions; white water kayaker Shannon Mast; well-known local climber Guy Cotter; and award-winning authors Colin Monteath, Victoria Bruce and Craig Potton, amongst others. 

Find the full speaker lineup here.

New Zealand’s talented filmmakers will also be on hand at the festival to introduce their films, with 64 of the films on the programme Kiwi-made, and several making their world premieres.

Get a taste of the action with the official festival trailer here: 

The festival is aimed at adventure lovers of all ages and stages, from thrill-seekers to those who prefer a gently stroll, and even those who prefer simply to watch it all on screen, with the online festival running July 1 to 31.

Mr Sedon notes that ticket sales have been slower than in previous years and suggests the cost-of-living crisis may be partly responsible for this. He encourages families to make the most of the free family shows being held at Edgewater Hotel in Wānaka on Saturday, June 22 and Sunday, June 23 and at the Hāwea Hotel on Saturday, June 22.

He is also pleased that many local school students will once again have the opportunity to attend a free show as part of the schools’ programme which has been supported by NZMFF Charitable Trust for the past nine years.

The New Zealand Mountain Film and Book Festival will run in Wānaka from June 21 to 25 and in Queenstown from June 27 to 28. The event will also be broadcast online in New Zealand and Australia throughout all of July.

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