The Motus Film Festival is officially five years old, and hopefully only growing in stature and impact. On May 28, 2017, a fresh-faced Giles approached the parkour community proposing a film festival that would accept submissions the following September. “At that time I was entering a lot of film festivals as a filmmaker, and I thought, ‘This would be cool to do.’” Giles said over the phone on his walk to the shop, “The goal has always been to discover and shine a light on rising filmmakers and talent, etc. and give them a platform.” The film festival is something surprisingly few and far between in the history of our sport, which is strange considering the painfully obvious relationship between filmmaking and parkour. It’s only a logical step in the progression of parkour content and parkour as an art form and narrative backbone.
The first Motus Festival had five separate divisions, allowing different lengths and styles of filmmaking, as well as creative editing opportunities, and even a division for the best single continuous shot. Compared to this year’s single length requirement of 15-30 minutes, the festival is making a point of pushing for longform narrative pieces alongside the expectation of clever filmmaking. “The festival has had numerous changes since the start, mostly centered around the format and rules. The first festivals we actually received an influx of too many videos. Many of them shot on phones and cobbled together in minutes, or you’d get the equivalent of an Instagram showreel. I mean, we watch them all anyway because that’s the point of the judging, but it eats up a lot of time. What we’ve tried to do is refine it more, especially this year, so that we get the people who want to take it seriously.” It makes sense that the categories would start to fall by the wayside. Camera equipment is expensive enough on its own without making specific categories for drones or POV only. Allowing any filmmaking style creates potential for filmmakers, athletes, and editors to create something truly progressive and interesting.
Scrolling through years and years of Motus videos, one can still find the festival results, and several of the winning videos are still watchable today with some investigative Googling. Giles remembers them fondly. “Annoyingly, I do actually remember some of them. Specifically Kosho Artificial’s winning edit from 2020’s Lockdown Editing Festival– he took the footage that we proposed and completely flipped it on its head and did something so unique. It stood out so much and was so entertaining. We had an incredible one-shot one year that was done on a subway train. We’ve had some really cool documentaries as well, we received one where this guy was building a parkour park in India, and things like that are really cool, because you get to experience the story as well as the parkour.”
Now in 2022, the festival has returned and is already accepting submissions, though this early in the submission window there has yet to be a single contender. “We’re looking for films that show the theme, ‘connections,’ and that’s a very daunting thing to make. It’s very easy to start filming but gets harder to follow through. I’ve already had messages from people saying, ‘Shit, now I’ve got to finish because the deadline is coming up,’ and things like this. We haven’t had a single submission yet, but honestly why would we? Ideally people will take their time, and use every minute before the deadline to put out the best film that they can. I just hope we get more than 5 submissions.” Personally, I’m certain that Giles won’t hurt for films to judge. Even now my local parkour hoodlums are filming everything they possibly can before the rapidly approaching November deadline.
Leaning into the “film” aspect of the festival in terms of length and theme seems a fitting choice, given the incredible slate of parkour films that have been released in the past year. We’ve been given wonderful pieces like S.O.L and Queen City, now the weight of culture lies with the community. The impetus that is the Motus Film Festival has spurred many dad-cam brandishing athletes to film projects. As dad-cam brandishing athletes, we have a responsibility, and that is to try our hands at capturing and crafting these films ourselves; using parkour as a means of rich storytelling.
During our voice-chat Giles also had this to say, “My mum’s dog is doing a poo right now as I creep up behind her, and she’s got her headphones in… BAH!” As Giles terrifies his mother outside the store, you can hear the fear in her voice through the phone. A cackling Giles assures me he resuscitated his mother and picked her up off of the ground before popping into the shop.