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A Magazine for Sheffield

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival Six films to watch out for at this year’s Sheffield Adventure Film Festival

Highlights include documentaries about BMX biking and outdoor swimming in Sheffield, as well as a moving portrait of cycling and motherhood.

The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival, or ShAFF for short, returns for its 18th year showcasing the best in adventure cinema, this time at Sheffield Cathedral on 15 and 16 March.

Ahead of the festival I caught a preview of some of this year’s films. What I found is that these films are not just about stunning landscapes, or ‘Why would you do that?’ moments. These films are about people, about community, and about pursuing a passion – about a love for the outdoors.

Here are some of my highlights from this year’s ShAFF.

40 Years of Bolehills

40 Years of Bolehills tells the story of the Bolehills BMX track, tracking its history from Sheffield Council building the track in the 1980s to the volunteers who manage it today. The track has seen many changes over the years, and has gone through periods of neglect and periods of revival. But this film isn’t about that – it’s about the people who have kept it going for the past 40 years.

I watched this film with very little knowledge about BMX racing but I loved it. When you take away the bikes, the dirt, and the jumps, this is a film about community, about forming friendships over a common interest. Places like Bolehills need volunteers who are willing to put the hours in, and this film celebrates those people. By the end I wanted to go up to the track – even if I can’t get a bike over a jump, I want to be part of the community and attend their events.

40 Years of Bolehills screens as part of the Made in Sheffield strand on 16 March.


Another film about community and adventure sport is SOuP. Soup stands for Sheffield Outdoor Plungers, and the group was set up by Owen Hayman a few years ago to help him find fellow outdoor swimmers after moving to Sheffield. Incredibly, the group now has over 12,000 members. As well as making you feel incredibly cold watching people swim in winter, the film highlights why outdoor swimming is so important. For many people it’s a good way to manage their mental health, and groups like SOuP add to that by offering a chance to make new friends.

SOuP screens as part of the Made in Sheffield strand on 16 March.

Kelly film
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.


KELLY is a film about cyclist Kelly-Jayne Collinge. When Kelly became pregnant in 2020, she was anxious about how to balance parenthood with cycling. This wasn’t helped by her brands and sponsors, who deserted her. But cycling has now become something she can share with her son Atlas who joins her on camping trips, having a great time sitting in his shotgun-seat.

The film is a beautiful celebration of motherhood and sharing a hobby with a child. It also highlights the importance of women-only riding groups. It starts with Collinge inspiring other women to take up cycling, and by the end you hear how these groups allowed her to speak to other mothers and address her anxiety.

KELLY screens as part of the Made in Sheffield strand on 16 March.

Freya film
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.


Another film exploring parenthood this season is Freya. Freya is the daughter of famous climber Leo Houlding, and this film follows the whole family on a climbing and camping adventure. The focus of the film is how climbing helps Freya navigate her neurodiversity and harness its strengths. For a short film it has a powerful message: yes, climbing can be scary, but for some people going to the shops or going to a party can be scarier.

Freya screens as part of several strands across the weekend.

Carne et Ossa

Every year in a small town in the mountains of Abruzzo, Italy, locals run barefoot down a cliff. Carne et Ossa documents that race. This film captures two things perfectly: firstly, the physical challenge. You wince when you see bare feet running across the rock. When the runners enter the church at the end of the race, you can feel the exhaustion. But you also share in the joy later that day as participants are carried through the town as champions.

The second thing the film does brilliantly is explore why people run. Everyone has a different motivation. The stories that stand out are not the people that want to win, but those who are wanting to prove something to themselves. One man talks about being unable to start the race he was so anxious, so the next year he came back (successfully this time). As a runner I can relate to those stories. I never enter a race to win, but I do have my own goals and motivations. This film explores the motivations that any runner has.

Carne et Ossa screens as part of the Run strand on 15 March.

Transformer film
Sheffield Adventure Film Festival.


Another film about running this year is Transformer. This film follows a four-year-old discovering the mountains for the first time, and for me it captures perfectly the joy of being outside. Even now, when I’m out running, I feel a similar energy – a desire to explore and have fun (especially when I’m running in the hills). I think regardless of what outdoor sport people do, that joy is something that we’re all seeking. Transformer sums this up perfectly.

Transformer screens as part of several strands across the weekend.

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