Press Release Jury                                                                             22/10/2016

14th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival, 19 – 23 October 2016

The Success of Failure

The blue posters do not remain blank for a long time. More and more post-its are dotted across them, closer and closer together – each post-it makes the jury’s decision harder. Because each poster stands for one of the prizes and each post-it states the name of a film that might deserve this prize in Tegernsee in 2016. 

So many yellow squares – yet by the end only one will remain per poster. Festival Director Michael Pause considers this a happy sight: “It shows that we are presenting a broad selection of high-quality film across all categories. That is fantastic for our audience, but it means extra-hard work for the jury.” The five jury members spend four days in a darkened room in front of screens, while outdoors, autumn sunrays enchant the landscape. They are as much at home in the mountains as in an editorial office. They know how to use a camera, same as a chockstone or an ice screw.

Films are fast forwarded and rewound, single sequences carefully scrutinised. Some of the post-its disappear, others wander around, because “This one could as well receive the Prize for a Junior Film Maker,” says Lisa Röösli from Switzerland. “Have you noticed that this year, almost all great films revolve around failure?” Peter-Hugo Scholz from Leipzig asks the room. But what is failure? Statements by the protagonists are discussed, analysed, questioned. Personal memories bubble up: What was it like when I was in the same situation? Is that movie scene realistic? What kinds of emotions get across, what is the message? It almost gets philosophical. “As soon as you make a decision, you are happy to get away,” remembers Adi Stocker from Austria. “You have mastered the cliff,” adds Peter-Hugo Scholz. The success of failure.

Fewer and fewer yellow blotches remain, the best films emerge. “How will we honour the musk oxen – we cannot drop them,” Ingrid Runggaldier from Southern Tyrol insists. On the screen, the immense beasts stoically endure freezing conditions. For eternity. Or at least until the post-it wanders over to the “Honourable Mentions”, which are turning into a reservoir. “The jury work definitely changes your perspective,” describes Carla Braun-Elwert from New Zealand. “You hear all the insider-stories and get confronted with opposing attitudes. That brings a lot into motion.”

This is thrilling, exhausting and means real, concentrated work. Long films with various inter-connected threads are viewed with care. Nothing is done in a hurry. It becomes particularly difficult when despite separate categories, the jury has to compare apples and oranges. No matter how fantastic the images displaying fox-cub Zorra’s everyday life, her post-it goes to the bin. The message transmitted by Jumbo Wild, a documentary about the development of a giant ski resort, is too strong.

Eventually, only six post-its remain. The winning films for 2016 have been decided and the jury may emerge into the sunshine. Does that mean all the other films failed? A look into the screening venues answers that question. Once you sense the rapture in there, you just know: There are no failures. Neither on the mountain nor at the festival.