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SHORT FOCUS 2021: The Fell Runner [Alex Simpson/Phillip Suddick, UK, 2019]

Alex Simpson and Phillip Suddick’s short film poetically explores personal battles and unity in the relationship between humanity and nature – all within the sport of fell running. The Fell Runner follows Calum Tinnion in contemplation and training as he scales and descends the picturesque mountains of Cumbria, Northwest England. As audiences gaze upon Tinnion navigating streams and steep mountain paths almost in a state of reverie, Simpson and Suddick’s work breathes life into the vast landscape the runner and film traverse alike.

The Fell Runner intercuts sequences of super 8mm film with intimate close-ups of Tinnion driving or in thought, and immense overhead bird’s-eye drone shots. As a result, the film contrasts and highlights the minuscule reality and size of man compared to his surrounding landscape. In conjunction, the overall cinematography and colour grading creates a warm and sentimental tone throughout the film, adding to the welcoming and harmonious feel of the piece as Tinnion recounts the difficulties of fell running, yet also the therapeutic feelings it imprints. The film does feel unfocused at times, with the dialogue (filtered through a telephone effect) and accompanying visuals akin to a stream of consciousness in comparison to the carefully planned and executed cinematography.

Simpson and Suddick’s short film is a sentimental and visually engaging snapshot of one fell runner’s pursuit of personal success. Through its direct focus on the interconnectivity between humans and nature, The Fell Runner showcases the reliance on one another for purpose and liberation, as Tinnion himself notes, "I’m a different person after I run. Always happier."


'The Fell Runner' was part of the Official Selection at Short Focus Film Festival 2021.


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