VIDEO: SHAFF film festival grows

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More than 100 adventure films will be shown on seven big screens next weekend in Sheffield.

What began nine years ago as a small film night has developed into the Sheffield Adventure Film Festival over three days, with an expanding programme, rapidly rising ticket sales and much-needed business for local hotels.

Jamie Andrew - The Limbless Mountaineer

Jamie Andrew - The Limbless Mountaineer

The city attracts climbers, mountain bikers and other adventure enthusiasts on the back of it overlapping with the Peak District, and its own adventure film industry is vibrant.

The festival, from April 4 to 6, is increasingly capitalising on all the interest, based primarily around The Showroom.

Director Matt Heason says: “Sheffield is developing a well-deserved reputation for being the outdoor adventure capital of the UK with some of the country’s best adventure sports athletes based here. We’re screening films with home-grown talent like climbers like Tom Randall and Mina Leslie-Wujastyk and downhill mountain bike legend Steve Peat.”

One highlight this year is mountaineer and quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew presenting his new Channel 5 film, The Limbless Mountaineer, on the Saturday.

Matt recalls that ShAFF started as an evening at The Showroom screening the best films from the Kendal Mountain Film Festival in the Lakes.

“It’s now spread over a whole weekend and over the past three years alone ticket sales have trebled to nearly 4,000 last year. The standard and quality of films improves every year. It’s been a bumper year with a record 350 films submitted which certainly helped fill the long, winter evenings.

“We’ll be showing double the number of films we screened just a few years ago and have expanded to use Sheffield Hallam’s Pennine Lecture Theatre across the road from The Showroom.”

Matt is the only person working full-time on the venture, liaising with The Showroom, volunteers and sponsors.

But he says the impact can be big. “Our feedback showed that 23% of our visitors stayed in Sheffield because of the festival for an average of 1.8 nights which works out at 1,554 bed nights. The more people we can bring into the city and the surrounding Peak District, the better.”

Certainly, Matt believes ShaFF can keep looking up. “There’s definitely scope to continuing growing.”