12th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival:
Jury Statement

Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee (€ 3,000)
Der Bauer bleibst Du (The Farmer, That’s Still You) by Benedikt Kuby (Germany)

This film documents a world of farming and craftsmanship which is about to disappear, which in fact hardly exists any more. At one point we learn that while there are modern machines for this sort of field work, the old farmer still uses his old tools because he does not wish to cut off the connection to the world he came from and to which he belongs. The film captures this world with extraordinary sensitivity and camera work that makes the silence sound. The kind of camera work which makes faces talk, even when not a single word is said. Use of music is also highly efficient and extremely sparing overall. There isn’t a single scene that seems forced or lacks credibility. The protagonists reveal themselves with authenticity and honesty, giving us an idea of how much patience and understanding the author had to invest to create this film. However, this is not the romantic portrait of a no-man’s-land, but today’s modern world is present and a respectful encounter between two generations is very much part of the story and of its telling.

Prize by the German Alpine Club for the Best Alpine Film in the Category of “Mountain Experience” (€ 1,000)
Cerro Torre – Nicht den Hauch einer Chance (A Snowball’s Chance in Hell) by Thomas Dirnhofer, Philipp Manderla (Austria)

Cerro Torre is one of the world’s most beautiful and spectacular mountains and this beauty is captured on screen. Cerro Torre is a film about truly epic achievement that requires equally epic efforts from the climbing team as from the film team. It is a film of great length and demands as much endurance and patience from its audience as the project and Patagonia’s temperamental weather demanded from the protagonists. The authors do not flinch from making us live through moments of failure, frustration and boredom. But we also experience moments of hilarity and mischief between among a set of serious world class Alpinists. Moreover, we see fantastic images of extreme Alpine deeds as well as the camera team’s work involved in capturing them. We witness just what a team can achieve when it pulls together. The film also shows the development of a child prodigy into a mature top-Alpinist, somebody who despite his youth stands up for clear values. Cerro Torre is a film that does not wax much about heroism, although the depicted achievement is truly heroic. We even learn about the Cerro Torre’s history. In it, a new chapter has been written, more than that: a new chapter in the history of free climbing.

Best Film in the Category “Mountain Life” (€ 1,000)
La lampe au beurre de Yak (Butter Lamp) by Hu Wei (France)

A Tibetan itinerant photographer and his assistant, a couple of changing backdrops and a number of Tibetan clients who are arranged into poses in front of these: here you have the ingredients for an extraordinary film. A completely static camera merely observes the scene, and yet viewers are moved to think about Asian situational humour and about the situation of the Tibetans – possibly more so than by other word- and image-rich documentary or feature films about the same issues. In short: a masterpiece of reduction and in the eyes of the jury one of the most moving films of the festival.


Best Film in the Category “Mountain Nature”
(€ 1,000)
Dar Josejo-ye Palang-e Irani (On the Scent of Persian Leopards) by Fathollah Amiri (Iran)

Despite certain technical defaults, this documentary about the Persian leopard seems worthy of being awarded a prize. In simple but emotive ways, it displays the many years of effort invested by a group of Iranian environmentalists into learning more about the fabled Persian leopard, about its territorial and survival needs, its actual distribution, the dangers it faces. With simple wildlife cameras, telephoto lenses that are really too short, and yet with inexhaustible patience and endurance they attempt to get close to this highly endangered species – one of the last big cat species in Iran and the Caspian region after the extinction of tigers and lions. The film ends on the discovery of a female leopard shot together with her two cubs by poachers, leaving us with a sense of powerlessness – an emotion that accompanies many environmental projects. The certainty remains that these environmentalists will continue their quest. A touching and overall hope-inspiring film.

Otto Guggenbichler Prize for a Junior Filmmaker
Vigia by Marcel Barelli (Switzerland)

The shrinking of natural habitats is a known fact. One we are only too happy to forget about. A thousand sad news items, newspaper articles and documentaries about it sound out unheard. Then this little film buzzes into our field of vision with playful ease. And we are made to remember the story, willingly or not. It is the story of a bee. We see the bee, funnily sketched and so simple that it becomes universal. A grandfather intones the voice of wisdom when explaining to his grandchild how to tell a good bee story: first the bees are doing fine. Then follows the pollution of their biosphere. The dying begins. Eventually flight to the mountains. But then … due to homesickness … the bee flies back. The end. The combination of hilarious cartoons and old-fashioned oral story-telling means we cannot turn away from the truth anymore. Nobody will be able to forget Vigia, from toddlers to many-titled academics.


Honourable Mention by the Jury (non-cash prize)

The Sensei by Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen (USA)
We were impressed by the story this film has to tell: two cultures, two generations meet on a remote mountain in Borneo. High up on the granite walls of Mt. Kinabalu. It is the story of a mentor and his student. Of a young man who inspires one of the world’s most legendary climbers. Up on Mt. Kinabalu an unexpected dynamic evolves: the experience and prudence of a seasoned pro and the unbridled, explosive genius of a new star on the firmament of climbing come together and each enables the other to exceed his limits.

Bylot Island by Sébastian Devrient (Switzerland)
Bylot Island deserves an honourable mention for its stunning footage of Arctic glacial landscapes, for the effective use of a miniature camera drone, for exciting encounters with polar bears, but also for the utterly refreshing and humorous style in which the three adventurers tell us their story – with and in front of the camera – revealing it one on one, every way as quixotic and thrilling as they experienced it themselves from hour to hour and day to day.

High Tension by Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer, Nick Rosen, Zachary Barr (USA)
High Tension is a poignant documentary about a crisis moment in the history of Everest mountaineering. Two top Western Alpinists end up in a massive tussle with a group of Sherpas who work at altitude in the Everest tourist industry. The situation escalates. The film does not claim to provide all the answers to the conundrum of the event. Rather, it challenges viewers to ask the right questions. The director aptly combines professional and amateur footage. The interviews are balanced and illuminate both sides of the conflict. Thanks to expert editing ‘high tension’ persists throughout.

Audience Prize
Der Bauer bleibst Du (The Farmer, That’s Still You) by Benedikt Kuby (Germany)