Press Release                                                                                     25/10/2014

12th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival, 22 – 26 October 2014

 

“Like Glimpsing the Future of Mountain Film”

Icy storms and a mild October sun, autumnal grey and explosions of colour, spectacular films from the mountains’ highest peaks and inner chambers. Last but not least: sensational winning films that could not be more diverse. The 12th International Mountain Film Festival was defined by thrilling contrasts.

Silence. You can’t answer all questions in staccato fashion. Protagonist Heinz takes time to reflect. His thoughts are mirrored by his facial expressions. Words are hardly necessary, all you need is the time it takes to watch the corners of his mouth twitch and to spot that twinkle in eyes which have undoubtedly seen a lot.

In the documentary Der Bauer bleibst Du (The Farmer, That’s Still You), Filmmaker Benedikt Kuby creates time for his audience to do so – not just once but over 104 minutes. ‘It is the kind of camera work which makes faces talk, even when not a single word is said,’ the international jury explains in its statement. The film captures this old farmer’s world with extraordinary sensitivity, nothing seems forced or lacks credibility. ‘It’s rare to see an entire jury simply enthralled,’ is how jury member Helmut Scheben (Switzerland) describes the experience. ‘That’s what it was like with this film and we all immediately knew that the Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee had to go to this production.’ It goes to a very quiet film classically produced and financed by a one-man-team.

No film could contrast more sharply with this than Cerro Torre – Nicht den Hauch einer Chance (A Snowball’s Chance in Hell), winner of the German Alpine Club’s Prize for the Best Alpine Film – be it in terms of budget, crew or style. The only common denominators: both films are perfect in their own way and deeply move their viewers. ‘Watching Cerro Torre almost feels like glimpsing the future of mountain film,’ states Festival Director Michael Pause from Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Public Broadcasting). ‘From now on, this is going to be the yardstick.’ And yet, the often surprising, breath-taking footage from probably the world’s most spectacular mountain is only one piece of the jigsaw. ‘It is a film about truly epic achievement, requiring equally epic efforts from the climbers as from the film team. We witness just what a team can achieve when it pulls together.’ the jury pronounces. The film’s content is multi-layered: it does not ‘only’ show the first free climbing ascent of Cerro Torre, but the development of extreme climber David Lama from a child prodigy into a mature Alpinist. Moments of failure and boredom are captured alongside the mountain’s arresting history. The camera team’s incredible achievement at Cerro Torre is subtly woven into the narrative. Jury conclusion: ‘This film does not wax too much about heroism, although the depicted achievement is truly heroic.’

 

Prize for the ‘Butter Lamp’ – and for the jury’s hard work

The festival jury comprised Helmut Scheben (Switzerland), Eloïse Barbieri (Italy), Bernadette McDonald (Canada), Karin Michalke and Matthias Fanck (both from Germany) and clearly acted independently from the festival’s hosts when awarding the Best Film in the Category ‘Mountain Life’: Butter Lamp by Tibetan filmmaker Hu Wei had been excluded from the competition because mountains do not figure in this short film about an itinerant Tibetan photographer. ‘Our profile as a mountain film festival automatically forces us to put great emphasis on this aspect,’ Festival Director Michael Pause explains the decision. ‘However, we did not want to withhold this brilliant film from our audience, which is why we included it in the programme, but not in the competition.’ The jury, however, saw ample mountain relevance in a film shot on the Tibetan Plateau and included the film on the list of winners. ‘Naturally we let our jury have the final say in the matter, not the organising committee or me as Director,’ Michael Pause states. ‘For us, this is a positive signal: evidently our jury takes its work serious and cares very much about awarding truly the best films. For this fact alone, the jury deserves a prize of its own.’

 

Gone With the Wind – towards a Safe Future

Some guests might literally have ‘gone with the wind’ at the festival’s start, when a number of seats remained empty in certain venues. But the return of a radiant autumn sun also meant screening venues filling to capacity as usual. As a result, this year is unlikely to register record visitor numbers, but Tegernsee’s new Mayor Johannes Hagn is very satisfied with the event: ‘It was top class and once again demonstrated that the City of Tegernsee can fully rely on the organising team surrounding Festival Director Michael Pause. Without a doubt, he is the face of this festival,’ Hagn is happy to relate during his first festival as Mayor of Tegernsee. He was further impressed by the great enthusiasm with which almost a hundred volunteers helped out during the festival.

It clearly emerges that the Mountain Film Festival will persist under his leadership. ‘I fully back the festival. I also agree with getting interesting individuals to attend such as jury member Bernadette McDonald from Canada or cave explorer Kieran McKay from New Zealand. This emphasises the event’s internationalism.’ According to him, the goal is to catch up with the other renowned European Mountain Film Festivals in Trent and Graz – and yet to retain the localised charm. Filmmakers should scramble to get in,’ Hagn describes his hopes. ‘And this should definitely involve an investment into the technical side of things. ‘There is definite room for improvement there.’

 

Tegernsee Friends of Mountain Film support the festival

To make these goals financially feasible, co-founder of the festival and former mayor Peter Janssen has already taken concrete action by creating the Tegernsee Friends of Mountain Film Association. ‘The purpose of this very young association is to support the festival in financial as well as non-material ways,’ Janssen describes his efforts. ‘Membership fees and donations are meant to secure the festival’s financial future and to facilitate necessary improvements so as to meet rising expectations and further evolve the festival.’