Press Release Mountain Film Festival 2021                                           03/2021

Tegernsee Mountain Film, 18th International Festival from 13 – 17 October 2021

 Stunning Mountain Films and Ample Space in Screening Venues  

The films “Children of the Snow Land” (Grand Prize of the City of Tegernsee) and “Balandrau – Frozen Hell” (Prize by the German Alpine Club for the Best Alpine Film) impressed not only the Tegernsee jury, but also the festival’s audience, who enjoyed plenty of legroom this year. They emerge as an unusual festival’s glorious winners. 

“Takes getting used to”, said some. Although, who wants to get used to looking at sold-out but half-empty movie theatres? Let’s rather listen to the sigh of relief that seemed to travel through Tegernsee over the last few days: “The Mountain Film Festival is back!”

94 Films thrilled the audience in Tegernsee
“It was lovely and I enjoyed the legroom,” said a happy spectator from around Stuttgart, laughing. There are advantages to everything. Thanks to 252 submissions, the programme curators led by festival director Michael Pause were able to pick from a bumper harvest this year, which they did with gusto. After a yearlong festival hiatus, 94 films made it into the programme, more than ever. In most of the 44 screenings, the live hosts were able to welcome interesting guests from all over the world: for example paraclimbing world cup bronze medalist Jacqueline Fritz during the Bayern2 Night, three members of the 1970 Nanga Parbat expedition at its retrospective, and Ganesh Panday from Nepal during the Nepal Night. When the people of Tegernsee celebrated their “home game” at the Medius screening venue and a group of local snowboarders presented their cherished mountain hut on screen, thunderous applause followed. A great success, even if the boarders didn’t make it onto the list of winners – or might they still score the audience award?

A quietly intelligent film
Top recognition goes to a film of quiet intelligence, grandiose landscapes, unvarnished humanity and hope, as the jury put it. This year, it awards the touching documentary “Children of the Snow Land” by Zara Balfour and Marcus Stephenson (Great Britain/Nepal) with the Grand Prize of the City of Tegernsee. For the first time after twelve years of schooling in Kathmandu, three teenagers hike on lonely paths back to their remote home villages, a journey of several days. They speak of separation pain, homesickness, curiosity, fear and amazement. They cautiously return to their past, soon to embark on a hopefully better future.

Devastating, because it can happen to anyone
This film will rattle anyone who has ever been to the mountains: The Spanish documentary “Balandrau – Frozen Hell” by Guille Cascante is dramatic, disturbing, heart-wrenching. It reconstructs a mountain tragedy in the Pyrenees that cost ten people their lives. “What stands out is not only the extraordinary camera work, but above all the shocking triviality of this incident: The mountains seem doable, nobody could have foreseen this catastrophe,” comments the jury, having awarded “Balandrau” with the Prize by the German Alpine Club for the Best Alpine Film.

Utter stealth …
… in the icy upper regions of the Himalayas is not the snow leopard’s sole domain.
Those who want to see it up close must also move with utmost caution. French photographer and filmmaker Stéphane Jacques and his brother masterfully demonstrate as much in the film “On the Track of Snow Leopards”. They defy ice and loneliness in order to perhaps savour the joy of getting intimately close to these extraordinary animals. For this achievement, they receive the Prize for the Best Film in the Category “Mountain Nature”.

Spectacular balancing act in the Dolomites
Valentin Rapp is the proud recipient of the Otto Guggenbichler Young Talent Award. With his camera he follows professional slackliner Lukas Irmler in search of the perfect highline between the Schlern und Langkofel massifs. “The film is exactly like highlining in the Alps: spectacular, comparatively low budget and breathtakingly beautiful,” the jury concluded.

“A big step towards normality”
Despite restrictions, considerable additional effort and total cancellation of the entire fringe program, the festival organisers can offer a convincing summary. “We definitely had a very strong programme of films this year,” confirms Michael Pause. “I was particularly pleased with the many wonderful encounters that finally became possible again.” It seemed to him that the mountain film scene was literally ready to pounce on this kind of opportunity, and for that reason alone the effort was worth it. Tegernsee Mayor Johannes Hagn sees the situation similarly: “Last year we were able to transmit a sign of life, but this year we have taken a big step towards normality. And in 2022, everything should be back to the way we and our visitors remember it. We look forward to that!”