Press Release 20th Anniversary Interview      –    June 19, 2023

20th Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival, 18 to 22 October 2023

Beyond the Heroics of Yesteryear 

Michael Pause has signed responsible for the Tegernsee International Mountain Film Festival programme for the past twenty years. During this time, he has blazed a trail between tradition and cutting-edge trends. In an anniversary interview he explains what he expects from a good mountain film and looks back at the funniest, most surprising contributions – and what almost became the greatest flop.  

Michael Pause, what is your favourite mountain film of all times?
Adventures in the Engadin, dating from 1932 – and at least three dozen other films.

This black-and-white ski film was scripted by Arnold Fanck, who is probably Germany’s most important mountain film pioneer. The simple story comes with a certain entertainment value and a lot of humour. But what impresses most is the fantastic footage of skiers in the winter wonderland of the Swiss Engadine.

Which of the winning films of the past 20 years would you call a favourite?
I would like to mention two special films: The Wire of Life (2003) and Olga e il tempo… (“Olga and Time” 2009). Both depict archaic life in the mountains – bereft of commentary, timeless. Once viewers commit to the experience, they sense that they are getting to see something extraordinary. True works of documentary art!

 What was the funniest entry?
Snow in Marrakech – wonderfully ironic. A grotesque story that interrogates clichés and prejudices. Also, the short films Kurt and the Chairlift and Simply the Worst. Be sure to check these out!

 What was the biggest flop?
Not really a flop, but nerve-wrecking: Two hours before the start of the award ceremony, the Great Prize winner from Sibiu in Romania reported that he was stuck on a Lufthansa plane due to a technical failure. I went on stage and “decelerated”: We improvised, showed longer film excerpts than planned – many spectators didn’t even notice a thing. At half past eleven the door opened and the victor marched in. It was certainly the most titillating award ceremony – for us organisers.

 The biggest surprise?
Asiemut, a Canadian documentary film that witnesses 5,000 miles of cycling and philosophising from Mongolia to India, undertaken by a young Canadian couple. Surprising, because we had requested the film belatedly after a tip from Banff. We hadn’t even seen it in advance – in the end, the jury chose it as the winning film!

Which celebrities have visited the festival?
The great speaker and thinker Heiner Geißler: having him as festival patron was a stroke of luck. Despite his many commitments, he almost never missed the festival. In the mountaineering community he always felt right at home. Special festival guests included Willy Bogner, Markus Wasmeier, Kurt Diemberger, Alexander Huber, Stefan Glowacz, Gerhard Baur, David Lama, Jörg Auer, Viktoria Rebensburg, Christoph Hainz and many others.

On this 20th anniversary, you plan to revisit the beginnings of alpine film. What will be screened?
In addition to the competition entries, I would like to show films that reveal to visitors the unique characters who have taken on this genre. I find it riveting to get to know brilliant film pioneer Arnold Fanck in a portrait of his person. As part of the Retrospective, we will also be showing a film by Dr. Otto Guggenbichler, our festival’s initiator. Plus, two other big anniversaries are happening this year. 70 years ago, Mount Everest and shortly afterwards Nanga Parbat were ascended for the first time – we will recognise this in the festival programme.

Today’s mountain films no longer merely obsess with heroes, the battle against nature and breaking records. What has changed in recent years?
The great heroic pathos, which one could not escape in the mountain films of the first decades, can now be safely discarded. However, we still meet heroes and heroines, just on a completely different level. Quiet personalities achieve acts of “heroism” in the mountains while remaining authentic, not hogging the limelight. About them, great and exciting stories can be told.

The festival receives over 150 submissions. What are your criteria for inclusion and what provides filmmakers with a good chance of winning one of the coveted prizes?
The pre-selection jury reviews all submissions and soberly assesses whether the individual films comply with the Call for Submissions. In a second phase, the quality is discussed and evaluated. In this way, we select the films for festival screening and compile shortlists of the most highly rated films in the various competition categories. A time-consuming job and a big responsibility.

Could a film that never refers to mountains ever run in your programme?
I can’t imagine (laughs), but the “mountain theme” reaches far and leaves a lot of room for interpretation. We believe that the mountains still attract fascination and provide material for extraordinary films. This we shall prove once more this coming autumn.

Further Information: Sonderbüro Bergfilm-Festival Tegernsee, Rathausplatz 1, 83684 Tegernsee, Germany
Phone +49(0)8022-1801-37 or -53,,