PR03_Jury        20/10/2012

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

“This is no beauty pageant.”

Dr. Rainer Stephan has known the Mountain Film Festival for many years: as journalist for the Süddeutsche Zeitung and as its guest – now as part of a jury that has made some courageous decisions. He describes his impressions in an interview.

Having known the festival for many years, what do you find has changed?
It seems to me that more films used to be shown that focus purely on sportive experiences. The trend seems to go away from that. What amazes me is that there were so few feature films on show, seeing that in recent years mountain settings have re-established themselves as exciting shooting locations for narrative film. Mountains of course have taken on a different role in current films compared to those of the past.

As an author and journalist your work revolves around language, there is little contact with the medium of film. Now you are part of a jury that evaluates films.
The approach is the same as I would adopt for writing a film review. I am a viewer like anyone else. I don’t necessarily apply specialized or technical yardsticks. Neither do I represent the average viewer’s reaction. What matters to me is that a film really impacts on us. The images should move me, they have to speak to me. And they should transport an important message that I can understand, even if I don’t know anything about the issues it investigates. This is the case with the film Snow, which we awarded this year’s Great Prize. These images weigh on the audience, provoke it into thinking, especially those who are skiers. Of course, the jury must also consider technical aspects, but there are five of us to cover everything.

Doesn’t a film earning the Great Prize need to be beautiful?
No. Even a mountain film festival is no beauty pageant. We evaluate quality. A winning film has to be important and good, the images must convey a discernible message, possibly an uncomfortable one. Those running a mountain film festival should beware of showing or awarding only films that sell the mountains as a beautiful, unadulterated world. Our planet is far too endangered for that. Therefore it serves no good purpose if prizes end up only going to what looks beautiful. Having said all that, Snow is indeed a very beautiful film that displays great craftsmanship and tremendous images. But be assured: it’s no balm for the soul. Precisely that makes the film twice as good and deserving of the Great Prize.