WINNER of 8 MAJOR AWARDS in 2000
The title goes together with the film's subject-matter like 'ingrowing' goes with 'toenail', or 'honest' goes with politician'. How the incredible story of two men and a bag of cloth flying over the world's remotest and most beautiful mountain scenery ended up being described as 'from nowhere to nowhere' is beyond me.
John Silvester's diary has been told in this and the last edition, and you'll no doubt have felt a part of their journey as they thermal, crash and cackle through western Nepal aboard their tandem paraglider, a Gradient Discovery. But without seeing the video, what you'll have missed out on is the following:
1. The Fear that grips Al Hughes from take-off to landing. The Fear makes Al's face contort into the kind of horrified looks that are more familiar in a line-up of prisoners in a Thai execution squad, not on a passenger on a tandem flight. His expressions of extreme anxiety are put into context though when you hear the high-pitched scream of the vario and John's arms flailing wildly as he works yet another mother-of-all-thermals above a monster Himalayan peak.
2. John's questionable landing technique. There's one scene where John is scratching furiously, waving to bemused villagers on the hillside yet all the while sinking down into a forested ravine. The landing options are getting scarce. But John (known for his independent mind by the many who have flown with him In competitions) straight-lines into the tops of some trees, the glider pulling pilot and passenger through some prime Indian foliage, equipment thrashing wildly against branches, rocks and nesting birds, then silence falls. John's face, black with dirt looks to the camera, and Al shouts 'I've got it all on tape, got it all!' Clearly they're both insane.
3. An incredible insight into the lives of the Nepalese mountain people. Using just one camera, no script and no back-up, Al and John get closer than any other TV crew has ever been to the heart and soul of Himalayan village life. The bartering of simple products, the endless weaving of wool and knitting of clothes, the incredulity expressed by scores of little faces staring at these western birdmen... this video-diary is a beautiful glimpse into a very different life.
was filmed on a shoestring budget and is absolutely essential viewing
for anyone who's become a little jaded with the possibilities of the sport.
Like Didier Favre's CAP 444, Nowhere' shows how with nothing more than
an independent spirit, a glider and a touch of madness, you can have the
time of your life.
review: From Nowhere to the middle of Nowhere
John Silvester's first big Himalayan bivouac flight, with Bob Drury, took him 500Km from Dharamshala to the India/Nepal border His most recent trip, with cameraman and close friend Alun Hughes, was to fly further east from the border still a long, long way from and roads or modern civilization. This is tough, tough, flying, even solo (see last month's Across the Himalaya article). Carrying a passenger and several cameras makes it more so and the terrain (90% unlandable) and weather (storms almost every day) make it an odyssey of epic proportions.
In between the big flying in an almost lunar landscape, John and Alun come to earth in small communities that in some cases haven't seen a stranger in a year. Everywhere the people embrace their two visitors from 'what might as well be another planet, and the stupendous flying sequences are fascinatingly separated by scenes of village life that probably haven't changed much in a hundred years. John is just as at home in this environment as he is in the air, and his commentary, both aerial and ground-borne. betrays a degree of laid back tranquility that is quite remarkable, though you begin to suspect that anyone without this much of self-possession wouldn't have got off the plane in the first place. After a particularly narrow escape from a storm John just lights a fag and says. 'Sometimes it's good to get back on the ground.' Partner Alun is the perfect foil, keeping the lid on his anxieties most of the time but clearly well aware of the dangers they face.
After two weeks and 300km they have to stop, beaten by deteriorating weather but not before treating us to a glimpse into different worlds and minds, including their own. It's just as well that they didn't get through - I have no doubt that even now John is planning the next episode of his dream. The film has already won two film festival awards and no wonder - it's simply brilliant. Well shot and put together, it's much more than just armchair excitement. This kind of flying is not for ordinary mortals; there are very few pilots with the skill and experience - or determination - to pull this kind of thing off safely, and to get it down on film so well is a colossal achievement. Could be we've already got the best free flying film of the century!