PR01 Award Winners        20/10/2012

10th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival from 13 to 21 October 2012

Beautiful images, strong messages – but no balm for the soul

Many extraordinary films were promised to us by the mountain film festival’s artistic director, Michael Pause, during its opening ceremony. He has kept his word. Participating film makers seemed well fed up with picture postcard mountain idylls and with narcissistic star athletes – as is obvious from a glance at the programme and the list of winning films.

This is no unblemished world, still images of it are beautiful. The heroes have their wounds and do not succeed at everything, yet their audience admires them. And a charming bearded vulture manages in just seven minutes to make its pertinent point about man’s absurd treatment of nature …

The 10th mountain film festival’s programme is rich in contributions that pick up on the most fascinating aspects of the mountain world – its beautiful landscapes, sportive challenges – but also scrutinize them relentlessly. The dark side of things becomes apparent, even if viewers might not be inclined to worry about them. For this is the harsh price paid by humans and nature respectively for the costly glory of staging amazing mountain experiences. Not every single sweep of landscape, not every single Alpinist is made to pay of course, but many are. It’s everybody’s and nobody’s fault – each individual is called upon to consider their responsibility.

All of the above should become obvious to anyone watching Snow, the documentary by August Pflugfelder, winner of the Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee. The frightening amounts of effort made to change nature and produce artificial snow, to provide ever new slopes forcibly changes the life of people who depend on selling the product ‘fun of skiing’. A film that displays great craftsmanship and tremendous images. But be assured: no balm for the soul. It makes a strong political statement,’ jury member Dr. Rainer Stephan concludes. ‘A mountain film festival hosted in an area that has to deal with this very problem must send a signal. We as jury consider it our duty to enable this signal.’

Another film that triggers profound concern is the winner of the German Alpine Club’s Prize: In Kota 42, Bulgarian director Ema Konstantinova documents the story of Ivan, a young climber buried by a rock fall at Mont Blanc and badly wounded in consequence. This is an extraordinary documentary which does away with commentary and interviews, allowing the images and its protagonists to speak for themselves. It is also the history of a hero to be admired: leaving hospital after a tremendously long time, still tied to his wheelchair, Ivan dares to keep living his dreams. He finds his way back to the mountains, back into life. ‘An unusual fate and a strong film. This issue can come to dominate anyone’s life at a moment’s notice, as we from the Alpine Club often experience,’ states Andrea Händel, spokeswoman of the club. ‘We certainly chose a worthy recipient of our prize during this jubilee.’

We must not forget another award winning film: Gypaetus Helveticus is a charming bearded vulture from Switzerland. In a mere seven minutes Marcel Barellis’s animated film illustrates the demonization, extinction and eventually reintroduction of the bearded vulture in Switzerland. All that in humorous and highly adroit fashion.