CityROCK Climbing Film Festival

CR Film Festival

CityROCK is hosting a climbing film festival, and by that I mean climbing. Not skiing, not mountain biking, not surfing and not any heart wrenching tales about a dog and his dying master. Just pure unadulterated climbing. Oh yes baby!!

I have had the privilege and the pleasure of getting a sneak preview of these films and I can tell you now and in no uncertain terms, that if you are a climber or not, these are not-to-be-missed movies, particularly on the big screen where you will get the full impact of these true, mind-blowing documentaries. They are practically unprecedented and have such a high excitement and adrenaline factor, that I strongly urge you to bring your chalk bag with you to alleviate your sweaty palms.

The festival is made up of four productions: Three full length movies and one production that is broken down into four shorter films, and although they are all climbing related, they are also quite different, so if at all possible you must try your best to see the full monty! Make this week a climbing movie feast!!

By Tony Lourens


The Dawn Wall

[Rotten Tomatoes rating: Tomatometer – 100%. Audience score – 98%]

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The climbing world can scarcely forget the captivating drama that took place on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, during January 2015, when Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson, completed the first ascent of the world’s hardest big wall route, after 19 days of continuous climbing. It was a revelation that unfolded day by day, keeping us on tenterhooks, until finally, broken and bleeding, they redpointed the final pitch and bagged the world’s most coveted climbing trophy.

But this movie is much more than a tale about the world’s most demanding climb.

As Rotten Tomatoes puts it: “It was the culmination of a lifetime defined by overcoming obstacles. At the age of 22, the climbing prodigy (Tommy Caldwell) was taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan. Shortly after, he lost his index finger in an accident, but resolved to come back stronger. When his marriage fell apart, he escaped the pain by fixating on the extraordinary goal of free climbing the Dawn Wall. Blurring the line between dedication and obsession, Caldwell and his partner Jorgeson spend six years meticulously plotting and practicing their route. On the final attempt, with the world watching, Caldwell is faced with a moment of truth. Should he abandon his partner to fulfill his ultimate dream, or risk his own success for the sake of their friendship?

Watch Dawn Wall trailer here
Ster-Kinekor Cavendish and Sandton on 10 November at 20:15
Run Time: 1h 30 minutes


Free Solo

[Rotten Tomatoes rating: Tomatometer – 99%. Audience score – 95%]

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on June 3, 2017 we woke to the staggering news that Alex Honnold had free soloed (yes, that is climbing free without the safety net of ropes or any form of equipment) Free Rider, on El Capitan. This rocked the climbing world to its very core.

Sure, Honnold is famous for his outrageous free solo climbing antics. He shot to fame many years ago with his solo of Moonlight Buttress in Zion, and since then has slipped many a nauseous and audacious solo ascent under his non-existant belt, his most famous (until Free Rider) being his ascent of the North-West Face route on Yosemite’s Half Dome. A feat that got him on the cover of many big name magazine, not least of all The New York Times Magazine!

To paint a picture, Free Rider is sort of equivilant to about 30 of the most difficult rock climbs in South Africa, stacked on top of each other, tracing a line up an unrelenting wall a 1000 metres high. A route that only the best climbers in the world attempt with a rope.

As Rotten Tomatoes puts it: “From award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi (“MERU”) and world-renowned photographer and mountaineer Jimmy Chin comes National Geographic Documentary Film’s FREE SOLO, a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of the free soloist climber Alex Honnold, as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream: climbing the face of the world’s most famous rock… the 3,000 ft El Capitan in Yosemite National Park… without a rope. Celebrated as one of the greatest athletic feats of any kind, Honnold’s climb set the ultimate standard: perfection or death. Succeeding in this challenge, Honnold enters his story in the annals of human achievement. FREE SOLO is both an edge-of-your seat thriller and an inspiring portrait of an athlete who exceeded our current understanding of human physical and mental potential.

Watch Free Solo trailer here
Ster-Kinekor Sandton and Cavendish on 9 November at 20:15 and 10,11 November at 18:00.
Run Time: 1h 30 minutes


Drama on Mt Kenya


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A beautiful and spectacularly re-enacted documentary recounting the expedition undertaken in September 1970 by two young Austrian medical student in their quest to climb Mount Kenya. During their descent, still dangerously high on the peak, one of the climbers was seriously injured in a fall, resulting in one of the most compelling high-altitude mountain rescues in history, taking an incredible nine days. Nine long days during which these two young climbers had to survive the rigours on a mountain above 5000 metres.

The movie is masterfully directed by Reinhold Messner, one of the world’s greatest mountaineering legends, who had incredibly met the injured Austrian climber in the hospital bed next to his in 1970, after he had come off his acclaimed and heroic ascent of Nanga Parbat, where Messner lost his brother and came very close to losing his own life. The movie features the two original climbers who tell their story and also two young climbers who re enact the climbing scenes.

Drama on Mount Kenya is a sobering and emotional tale of friendship and survival, which is shot on Mount Kenya with outstanding and dramatic cinematography.

Watch Drama on Mt Kenya trailer here
Ster-Kinekor Cavendish and Sandton on 9 November at 18:00.
Run Time: 1h 30 minutes


Reel Rock 13


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Reel Rock is a collection of climbing movies that goes on an international tour each year. A collection of movies that celebrate some of the most prolific achievements in climbing and mountaineering around the planet.

This year, Reel Rock 13 brings us four riveting movies that takes us from Norway to Antarctica, back to Wadi Rum and explores the little understood and seldom-practiced art of Speed Climbing.

Age of Ondra

Czech wunderkind, Adam Ondra, has been startling the world for nearly a decade now with his inter-galactical prowess on steep HARD rock. His conquests and achievements are legendary and way too numerous to mention or indeed count. Ondra is not just an exceptional climber, he is an extraordinary athlete who has redefined the sport of rock climbing. In this movie we see his first ascent of Silence, the world’s hardest single pitch route, and his journey across the world as he innovates new training methods, establishes upper echelon first ascents, and attempts to be the first person to send 5.15 on the first try.

Up to Speed

A movie that takes an in depth look at the world of Speed Climbing. A part of climbing that was largely ignored by climbers until it was introduced as one of the disciplines in the Olympic arena to take place in 2020.

Reel Rock correspondent Zachary Barr looks into this little-known and seldom practiced sub-discipline of the sport, and the role it will play in shaping climbing’s future. Barr’s journey from the U.S. to France (the birthplace of modern speed climbing) to South Asia (it’s actually huge there) culminates at an international competition in Moscow, where speed demons race up a 15-metre wall in less than six seconds.

Queen Maud Land

A dream team of six elite climbers mount an expedition to one of the world’s last great climbing frontiers – the remote frozen towers of Antarctica. Jimmy Chin and Conrad Anker tackle a new route on the 1 200-metre Ulvetanna; Savannah Cummins and Anna Pfaff summit the towering Holtanna; and Alex Honnold and Cedar Wright make a harrowing and hilarious blitz of 13 different spires spread across the ice field, including one pitch that Honnold calls “the scariest I have ever led.” Queen Maud Land — the name of this icy region — showcases a stunning, rarely visited wilderness, and the suffering and vision needed to climb at the bottom of the world.

Valley of the Moon

Wadi Rum, known as the Valley of the Moon, is a vast landscape of sandstone walls in the desert of Jordan. This movie is about two Israelis climbers (Eliav Nissan and Elad Omer) who team up with local Bedouin guide, Mohammad Hussein, to establish a 600-metre route, eventually recruiting American climber Madaleine Sorkin to help achieve their dream. Valley of the Moon explores the importance of climbing as a way to cross cultural barriers, build friendship and chase adventure in one of the most breathtaking regions on earth.

Watch Reel Rock 13 trailer here
Ster Kinekor cinemas in Sandton and Cavendish on 11 November at 18:00.
Run Time: 1h 35 minutes

For more information or to book your tickets visit or download the SK App on your smartphone. You can also book at the box office. For all queries, call Ticketline on 0861-Movies (668 437).


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