Press Release       01/0ctober/2013

11th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival

New Perspectives and Many Surprises

Packed venues, filmmakers presenting excellent work – be it filmed in China, at the Swiss Haldigrat or among Venezuela’s tepuis – and a jury facing no mean feat. That sums up the Tegernsee Mountain Film Festival 2013. Anyone attending a screening was in for a surprise – und for a change of perspective.

New Perspectives. This is not only the title of a film showing sports climber David Lama’s success at daring to step out of the competitive scene and into the world of really high, steep mountains. New perspectives would also have worked as in-official motto for Tegernsee’s 11th International Mountain Film Festival. A look at the programme reveals a common element among a great number of films: each of them showcased novel aspects of the mountain world and presented a surprise twist. ‘It really makes you reconfigure the way you think,’ one spectator happily comments.
Of course, new perspectives are also granted by film technology, which has undergone great developments in the past years. These advancements impact greatly on how films are made today: ‘By now, some productions stun you more with the camera work, which often opens up new angles of vision, than with the protagonist’s achievements,’ Michael Pause states his concerns during the Opening Night at Tegernsee’s Barocksaal. ‘This means risking that the narrative suffers and that the people who are supposed to be at the core of the film become eclipsed.’

Closer to people with the octocopter
Filmmaker Joachim Hellinger is equally aware of how important it is to resist this technological trend. ‘A camera is a means towards a purpose,’ he emphasises. ‘The use of technology must never become an end in itself. Because our job is to transport the joy and the tremendous experiences that we and our protagonists have into the medium of film and thereby towards the spectator.’

An exceptional film – Je veux
Hellinger’s film submission Je veux excellently implements his principles. French singer Zaz would like to perform with her band at the summit of Mont Blanc. This might seem like nothing but a crazy whim at first. However, very few minutes into the movie we already fall in love with this extraordinary French lady. Mont Blanc might represent something like a ‘different planet’ for her, yet she desires to discover this other world – without contraptions, simply out of her own steam, equipped with courage and a sense of humour. This is sheer joy of life, no advertising stunt. And that is why we are so thrilled for her when she does reach the summit. The jury awarded this extraordinary production with the ‘Prize for an Exceptional Film’.

Mountain film people
While guests in the historical Barocksaal venue enjoyed dreamlike images from Ladakh, the cinematic journey at Schalthaus took viewers to meet Kurt and his chair lift at the Haldigrat Ridge in Switzerland. He is an oddball who does what he does because he thinks it’s right – no matter what the rest of humanity might think. A nutcase who defies progress just as much as the weather. Most would find Kurt too awkward in ‘real life’, yet half of the film’s audience would probably depart towards the Haldigrat ridge at once. ‘Because it is simply brilliant that people like him exist,’ one visitor explains.
Meanwhile, viewers inside the Medius-Saal venue watch the infamous Huber Boys fight for every single metre on the way up Baffin Island’s Mount Asgard. Afterwards, two young French filmmakers visit China together with the world’s best climbers: it is fascinating to see climbing icons Lynn Hill and Chris Sharma demonstrate that this sport can simply be fun as well as a playful opportunity to build bridges. Here, people connect, no matter how different they might be. A top climber with a perfect body travels beside someone who is wheelchair-bound for life and can hardly budge. Locals who have never made it beyond the neighbouring village celebrate enthusiastically together with the far-travelled climbers when a move succeeds – or laugh with them when things go terribly wrong.

On the scent of the unexpected
A vast number of great films means a vast amount of work for the international jury. It had to carefully screen all of them to arrive at a just conclusion. Its five members were busy from the beginning of the week. ‘You’d say it was a good year, if you were talking about wine,’ Italian juror Daniela Cecchin sums up the experience. ‘I was particularly impressed by films which showed something unexpected, which transported a surprising message. And there was a great number of those,’ adds Helmut Scheben, the juror from Switzerland.

Learning to see from children
Where do all those kids come from, one might wonder when passing along Tegernsee’s strees shortly before the start of a children’s screenings. Perfect quiet descends when Cow Number 9 loses her friend Cow Number 10 and must go looking for her on the expansive Alpine meadows around Mount Fellhorn. A short applause follows as well as sighs of relief when the befriended cows are reunited. ‘It’s a shame that over time, we lose the ability to immerse ourselves unreservedly into a film and to live through it completely without bias,’ says a teacher. ‘Maybe adults should go to children’s movie theatres now and then, just to rediscover what it means to be truly inspired – without any need to constantly form an opinion, to judge what is good or bad, right or wrong.’