A film that explores the impact racial discrimination can have, and how the power of mountain biking and landscape can provide healing and hope
After the Storm is a critically acclaimed film that reveals the remarkable, powerful and moving story of Scots Asian mountain biker and diversity pioneer Aneela McKenna, exposing the racism and discrimination she has experienced in her own life, and how mountain biking and her connection with the beautiful landscape of the Outer Hebrides helped her mend and heal.
Filmed by Andy McCandlish and directed, produced and edited by McCandlish and McKenna’s husband Andy McKenna, the film has moved audiences around the world at screenings at numerous film festivals, and in the lead up to the UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is receiving it’s mainstream release.
The film is a frank exploration of McKenna’s experiences, exploring how a racism grievance case against her manager and the incidents that led up to it shattered her self confidence, respect and self belief. To give herself time to think, heal and renew herself, she embarks upon a solo mountain bike tour of the Outer Hebrides, one of her favourite places in the world, and the site of happy memories with husband Andy.
In After the Storm, McKenna and her husband return to these islands of white sand beaches, crashing waves, towering mountains and firelit bothies, and it’s through their memories and discussions that moments of pain, frustration, triumph, laughter and defiance are uncovered, and the power of their connection with Scotland and each other is cemented. McKenna reflects on the realities that drove her to these islands, and the outlook and strength that she returned with.
Fundamentally, McKenna – who now runs equality, diversity and inclusion consultancy Mòr Diversity – hopes that the film invites watchers to “open their hearts and minds to how racial discrimination feels, consider the way it impacts on individuals and society at large, and actively stand up to racism in order to be the best, most enriched version of themselves”.
“If the film can engage even one person who would ordinarily have disengaged from this kind of story or argued that racism does not exist in 2021 – it’s done its job,” she shares.
Joining her call to #RideOverRacism are Danny McAskill, Eliot Jackson, Greg Minaar, Phil Young, Frit Tam, Manon Carpenter, Rob Warner and many others. This film asks us all to take a ‘look in the mirror, face up to racial discrimination, consider their role as allies, and become truly anti-racist.’
Speaking of the impact of the film, Pamela Barclay – former marketing director of Endura – stated that “it is an incredibly powerful challenge to the MTB industry to sort out our act and not just claim that there are no obvious barriers to folk on the basis of race… and anyone can ride a bike. We recognise that we do need to do more to ‘normalise the difference’ in our imagery and activity…and be much more welcoming and relatable to folk from a different background. I’m certainly ‘disgusted by my ethnicity’ from time to time… and we have built much of this country on the back of a horrific colonial legacy and slavery which is not taught nearly enough in schools.”
“But this was also a touching love story … [Aneela and Andy] are beacons of inspiration in how we might instead support one another through thick and thin and never lose a sense of nonsense,” she continues, adding of Endura’s support for the the film that “it was masterfully filmed and aesthetically beautiful – very proud to have helped in our small way.”
After the Storm has received incredible support and critical acclaim from mountain bikers and non-riders alike. Screenings took place at film festivals throughout the world, including Kendal Mountain Festival, Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
Mòr Diversity is working to provide expert advice and guidance, and facilitate non-judgemental discussions around diversity and inclusion, allyship, barriers to inclusivity and overcoming these challenges.