Tegernsee Mountain Film Festival - A vertical thriller and nature's wonders - 22/10/11

9th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival
A vertical thriller and nature’s wonders

No doubt: in Tegernsee, mountain films meet with a tough jury. And what is more, they meet with a highly critical audience. Both jury and viewers were highly impressed by several films; the “award-winning summit” was reached by the nature documentary “Voyage au bout de l’hiver” (Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee) and the climbing thriller “Alone on the Wall” (Prize by the German Alpine Club for the best alpine film).

“At first we thought that 76 minutes might be a bit long for a nature film,” is how journalist Françoise Guais (France) describes the jury’s reckoning. “Even if the images are amazing, one might get bored after a while.” But boredom is the one thing “Voyage au bout de l’hiver” will not provoke – this “journey to winter’s end.” In the documentary, French documentary filmmakers Anne and Erik Lapied not only show how wildlife in Gran Paradiso National Park readies itself for winter. They also demonstrate to us how patient and humble one has to be to film nature quite like that. “When the snow finally arrives, when avalanches isolate the small hamlet, we seize to be spectators; we have arrived in the heart of the story.”

In the heart of the action – and right on the wall – that is where the festival’s winning alpine film, “Alone on the Wall” begins. No attention-seeking cinematography, but this one nerve-wrecking instance of Alex straightening himself up on the hand’s width of the Thanks God Ledge – in midst of the Half Dome’s sheer rock face. A film that convinced the jury and rocked the audience.

The films that do not go down well in Tegernsee are those “shown by certain TV stations on a Sunday night,” one viewer explains. Michael Pause, the festival’s artistic director, is more than aware of this: “Once again we realized that a crime film set in a mountain environment does not find much acceptance. That is why in future, we will largely opt against films that stage the mountain artificially .” In terms of quantity, Tegernsee has reached its limits – in terms of the amount of viewers as well as of films. “The festival would gain nothing from further expansion,” Pause states.

In terms of quality, however, there is always room for improvement, despite an already outstandingly high level of performance. “We will build on our strengths, namely the presentation of authentic, high-quality documentaries. That is what people around here want to see.” he emphasizes. Even if that might turn into a strenuous „ascent“. Although the festival has by now gained great international renown, this does not mean that great quality films just “pop up” by themselves at Lake Tegernsee. “We will intensify our quest to actively look for the best productions worldwide and to generate new contacts.” One thing is for sure: the discerning Tegernsee mountain film fans expect an outstanding programme during the festival’s upcoming 10th edition next year – “and that is what they will get,”  romises its director.