Press Release/Jury                                                                             02/2021

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

 Jury Members 2021:
Stefan König (Germany, i.a. author, expert on mountain film history)
Sebastian Marseiler (South Tyrol, i.a. culture and nature film maker)
Julia Brunner (Austria, i.a. camera operator, cutter, film maker)
Thijs Horbach (Netherlands, i.a. Director of the Dutch Mountain Film Festival)
Titus Arnu (Switzerland/Austria, i.a. journalist, author)

Mountain Film’s New Responsibility 

This year, the festival jury did not conduct its work as usual, united in Tegernsee, but in advance and alone, each member in their own office. Instead of animated discussions, it involved focused watching in one’s own privacy. How did the jury handle this unusual situation?   

“Sitting together, drinking coffee, discussing – I honestly prefer it that way,” Stefan König admits and probably expresses the entire jury’s heartfelt opinion. Sebastian Marseiler also considers this “hermit work” less than optimal: “I miss the discussions, the other perspectives.” However: “Under the given circumstances it was a good and practical solution,” concludes Stefan König.

And so, five jury members immersed themselves into the world of mountain film in very different locations over the past couple of days. They were impressed by “Cows Dancing on the Roof”, this sober and sobering look at a reality that is often glorified in the heimatfilm genre. “It captivated me and lingered in my mind,” states Julia Brunner. The film received an honourable mention.

One production that didn’t win a prize moved Sebastian Marseiler deeply – he can empathise with the situation of Ladakhi school children very well: “The documentary ‘Chaddr – Beneath us the River’ really touched me, because it reminded me of my own biography: being torn from my familiar environment in order to visit a school, balancing two worlds and returning home with the certainty of having to leave again.” The category “Mountain Life” however received a strikingly high number of strong submissions, “pretty much all of which deserved an award.” A similar film did indeed receive the main prize.

Stefan König will particularly remember the film “What Will This Do to Us?” by Caroline Fink. This very short art film deals with loneliness during the times of Covid. „It seems to me that a lot of film makers have become more thoughtful,” Stefan König reflects. “This may also have something to do with the fact that clips sponsored by the outdoor industry or disguised power lemonade advertisements never made it into the program.” Julia Brunner believes that there were already signs of change before the pandemic: “Where extreme adventure used to rule supreme, there can be much more today: people, cultures, animals – films that only “slightly” brush the subject of mountains. It doesn’t always take hardcore action, drama, death, fast-paced music, adrenaline. A slower tempo has its own merits. “I think people now choose their mountain adventures and mountain stories with more respect for nature and the fragility of life.”

Stefan König wishes to clarify that the current “mountain craze” puts certain demands on the mountain film scene: “In some areas, the mountains are literally overrun. How much of this mass onslaught can be sustained by natural environments and how much by those dwelling in valley towns? This results in mountain film’s new responsibility.” The mountain film scene has already picked up on that, according to Thijs Horbach: “Film makers show that you can experience adventure, nature and mountains close to your home. And that it is possible to make good films without having to travel around the world.”

But how did the jury finally agree on the awarding of the prizes? A three-hour video conference soon revealed that independently of one another, all five jury members had made very similar preliminary decisions. “We ended up having a lively discussion of merit based on mutual respect,” Sebastian Marseiler sums up. Had it been a live event in one location, “we would probably have just discussed more,” says Julia Brunner. “It does however make a difference when you view the same film at the same time and debate it immediately afterwards,” counters Stefan König. “But in this particular case I believe the awards would have gone pretty much to the same recipients no matter what.”