Press Release            -                     24/10/2015

13th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival, 21 - 25 October 2015


Riveting Films that Cannot be Pigeon-Holed

Fantastical, stirring and breath-taking experiences awaited all those who vigorously explored the Tegernsee Mountain Film Festival over the last few days. They were treated to images – as well as words – that linger in the subconscious and resurface with ample food for thought.

“Leaning back and binge-watching is not the point,” explains Professor Werner Bätzing after a “fireside talk” about the future of the Alps, an event scheduled for the first time during the Mountain Film Festival programme. “A festival has to raise questions, instigate discussions and get the ball rolling towards concrete changes.” These aspirations have defined the festival creators’ efforts from day one and gained particular prominence during this year’s festival. They were tangible during the lively discussion forum with Prof. Bätzing and on the memorable Nepal Night which focused on the consequences of the devastating recent earthquake, which has already slipped from many minds. And of course they were present during the screenings themselves – a total of 85 films were enjoyed over the past few days by enthusiastic audiences.

Images Sharper than Reality
Perspectives were surprising, images seemed sharper than reality and viewers almost came closer to the mountain than the protagonists. The new technology which has conquered and defined mountain film over the past few years enables utterly new forms of expression. “It’s almost soothing when for once you get to see some shaky Super 8 shots from an archive,” a viewer reflects. “Simple images can create a much stronger impression.” If Hollywood-type special effects replace finer nuances, films become more and more formulaic and exchangeable.

On the Trail of What Touches
What touches? What stands out from the mainstream? The festival’s international jury attempted to answer this question over the last few days. “This type of festival is an ideal platform for innovative film makers who cannot be pigeon-holed,” jury member Karmen Tomšič from Slovenia is pleased to confirm. She and four further jury members were particularly impressed by directors who played cautiously with today’s technical possibilities and who allowed their story to dictate the means of telling in terms of length and approach. They favoured directors who did not try to pander to auspicious TV or big screen formats or – as underhandedly as that may be – to the needs of their sponsors. These film makers grant their images space to impact and do their work in the minds of spectators. “When the images are right, not many words are needed,” explains jury member Toon Hezemans from the Netherlands, who hosts his own mountain film festival. “If you describe everything, you do not leave anything for the audience to figure out.”

A Great Place for the Great Prize
The most daring work was submitted by Polish film maker Julia Poplawska, who was honoured with the Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee. Miejsce means “place” and is the title of a highly innovative film which relies on a completely novel approach and unusual camera work. Sparse colour accents and strong images suffice to convey the eerie atmosphere of this lonesome weather station and to transform it into a space station. “No matter how short, this film embodies great cinema,” the jury explains its choice.
The festival’s most outstanding alpine film made use of equally limited means and was awarded the Prize of the German Alpine Club (Deutscher Alpenverein). Calmly, thoughtfully and honestly as well as by means of powerful images the three Italian film makers of First Ascent portray summit success at a seventhousander in the Karakoram.

Scoring Goals Instead of Husbands
While the extra-terrestrial weather station freezes its viewers and while extreme mountaineers in the Karakoram give them sweaty palms, the young football-crazy ladies from a remote Nepalese villages take everyone’s heart in a storm. Nepalese director Bhojraj Bhat received the Prize for the Best Film in the Category Mountain Life for his production Sunakali. During the Conferring of Prizes at the Barocksaal venue, Bhat related that he came across this moving story quite by accident – it is the story of a group of girls who prefer to score goals over getting married at age 14. For a short time, the female footballers are allowed to experience what it feels like to break free from village life and to establish contact with a bigger world. The film renounces showy technical frills and gives viewers the sensation of being right there with the girls – even after having left the screening venue behind.

Two Prizes for a Great Piece of Art
It is literally „just“ the portrait of a photographer. However, the young French film maker Mathieu Le Lay turns this into a veritable celebration of the senses. He himself is taken up in the powerful visual realm of Alexandre Deschaumes. On the quest for inspiration – this is how the film’s title translates – he creates a masterpieces. “We become eye-witnesses of the artistic interpretation of breath-taking nature,” explains journalist and jury member Dr. Peter-Hugo Scholz. Planet Earth in general and its mountain world in particular are revealed as an exception, as something unspeakably precious, which we must guard with all our powers. “For me, the central mission of mountain film is to create this kind of awareness,” states jury member Leo Baumgartner from the Eastern Tyrol, who has helped numerous film teams to choose the perfect location for their project. “Planet Earth has no sponsors but many users. There is maybe just a handful of people who are truly aware of this vast responsibility.”
Mathieu Le Lay received the Otto Guggenbichler Prize for the Best Film by a Junior Film Maker and the Prize for the Best Film in the category Mountain Nature.