PT02 Winners                                                                                10/2019

Bergfilm Tegernsee, 17th International Festival from 16 – 20 October 2019 

The Drama of Success

Winners only ever emerge from comparison. When all submissions are as qualitative as at this year’s Mountain Film Festival in Tegernsee, the jury has to plunge that bit deeper for its verdict. The process brings compelling results to the surface.  

“Not everything has to be perfect, but it’s got to hang together.” This makes for an apt description of the quest for the best films undertaken by Linda Cottino (Italy), Lisa Röösli (Switzerland), Dagmar Steigenberger (Germany), Lisa Stolze (Austria) and Alexander Donev (Bulgaria). When a film works, it presents exciting images which linger and might reveal their full potency only after a while. This is not usually the case when people only talk about themselves and their achievement. Something truly interesting only happens when a film maker manages to “also recognise the drama inherent to success”, the jury explains.

Award for “The Pathan-Project” – “Free Solo” impresses outside of competition
A perfect example for this criterium is the Oscar-winning climbing film “Free Solo”, which was screened in Tegernsee outside of the competition. Star climber Alex Honnold is sublime on the wall. But how does he manage everyday life? That’s where the “dimension of failure” mentioned by the jury applies and makes the movie gripping. This potential failure also infuses “The Pathan Project” (Guillaume Broust, Belgium, German Alpine Club Prize in the Category Mountain Experience). This expedition film is strikingly different. Accidents and set-backs are dramatic, the achievement on the rock outstanding, but that is also the case in other films. Truly unique is the self-mocking perspective of all protagonists, which is very helpful in this situation – and the balance between all these components.

Magic and strong women
“This Mountain Life” enchants with arresting, carefully composed images. The focus is on two women, mother and daughter, who trek from Vancouver to Alaska together on skis. Film maker Grant Baldwin (Canada) receives the “Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee” foremostly because he manages to widen the film’s focus to the question what people seek in the mountain world and sometimes do – at least to some extent – find there.

Strong women are also central to the Australian documentary “Spirit” (Jane Dyson and Ross Harrison, Prize in the Category Mountain Life): A world breaks apart, high up in a mountain village in the Himalaya. Too high up to have fully arrived in modern times, yet too low down to still be truly close to the gods, as this film conveys with impressive footage.

Across boundaries
The excitement mounts when a film completely steps out of line, as does Iceberg Nations (Fernando Martín Borlán, Bergzeit Prize in the Category Mountain Nature): Icebergs turn into metaphors for human constructs such as nations and boundaries. Icebergs melt and the constructs reveal their irrelevance in the face of worldwide problems such as climate change.

Probably the festival’s most unusual film didn’t quite make it into the four main prize categories. But the documentary “Riafn” (Calling) by Hannes Lang is actually much more suited for the “Special Film” category. “It’s a veritable challenge for viewers,” the jury claims. But anyone who opens up to the kind of communication between humans, animals and nature that functions without major misunderstandings and across all boundaries, gets to enjoy a masterpiece, a “cinematic mediation against an alpine backdrop.”

 Meaningful conquests
While others brag about extreme physical deeds, experiences at their limit and meaningless conquests, two likeable students from Rosenheim, Bavaria, dedicate themselves to something completely different. With joy and nonchalance they restore old mountain huts. “This is a quiet, special story, which makes do without classic mountain heroes, but with its beautiful images tells us that we can make a difference after all,” is the jury verdict on Höhenmeter (Altitude) by Dominik and Julian Weigand (Germany), which receives the Otto-Guggenbichler-Award for a Junior Film Maker. In this case, success is certainly no drama.