Winning Films 2023                                                           

Jury Statements – 21 October 2023

Great Prize by the City of Tegernsee
“Kumari – A Father’s Dream”
Sean O’Connor, USA, Nepal

In remote rural Nepal, Jagat Lama promises his dying father to bring medical care to his home of Kumari. Thanks to his ability and willpower he becomes a high-altitude mountain guide and founder of a cooperative agency of Himalayan guides. Jagat doesn’t forget his promise and leads a group of friends to channel their resources and energies into the development of Kumari’s basic needs: first electricity, then a women’s skill centre, a school, a community farm and a medical hospital. But two years later, a strong earthquake hits Nepal and destroys the accomplished work. Desperation leads Jagat to doubt whether he can keep the promise he made to his father, but the challenge is taken up by the whole community. The film director and crew return to the locations and, through their images, complete the immense reconstruction work. Kumari is a moving story about the strength and resilience of the human spirit faced with the power of nature.

Prize by the German Alpine Club for the Best Alpine Film
(Category Mountain Experience)
“Pionieri” (Pioneers)
Alessandro Beltrame, Italy 

On 10 August 2021, alpine guide Peter Moser links six of the main peaks of the Pale di San Martino in a single day. Inspired by the pioneers of mountaineering, Peter makes the solo crossing along the historical routes. He wants to face the mountain on equal terms, at speed but without haste, in an intimate journey to the roots of his own mountain being, and he is in search of the same spirit that drove the first explorers. The images show the grandeur of an overwhelming and majestic mineral environment, unique and severe as the Pale di San Martino. It is documented from the inside, along a “fil rouge” that winds from the 3,000 m of the Cimon dela Pala across peaks and valleys to the southernmost summit of Piz de Sagron. Alongside Peter Moser’s vertical journey, a historical ascent is staged, and combined with the commentary by mountaineering historian Luciano Gadenz and interludes by the strong local climber Maurizio Zanolla “Manolo”, the film renders the taste of a timeless mountain, a space of adventure and freedom.

Best Film in the Category Mountain Life
“Aufnahmen einer Wetterkamera” (Weather Cam Recordings)
Bernhard Wenger, Alexandra Brodski, Germany, Austria

 We are all familiar with footage from a weather camera. In addition to the banal camera pans, Bernhard Wenger and Alexandra Brodski discover curious and all-too-human stories. A witty and original film that surprises.


Best Film in the Category Mountain Nature
“Bis zum letzten Tropfen” (Down to the Last Drop)
Harry Putz, Austria 

“Down to the Last Drop” shows in simple and precisely because of that impressive images what is at stake when we blindly destroy highly sensitive, ecologically valuable habitats for the sake of electricity from hydropower. A quiet and unagitated film that highlights alternatives. It vividly illustrates just how diversified the search for the best possible solution could be. Harry Putz has succeeded in creating a very thoughtful film, which does not release us from our own responsibility.

“The last Skiers” (Die letzten Skifahrer)
Veronica Ciceri, Italy

The film “The Last Skiers” by Veronica Ciceri depicts something we all know: climate change in the Alps. But it does so in poetic fashion, in a way in which we hardly ever get to see the subject framed. This succeeds on one hand because it makes climate change comprehensible through its protagonists. On the other hand, because each level of the film pursues a single goal with great purism: to connect the irretrievable yesterday with the present and to quietly raise questions about the future. Along the way, we immerse ourselves in the culture and history of the mountainous region between Lecco and Como; we learn that skiing is much more than a sport; we experience traditions; we see how unsustainable the production of artificial snow is. What sustains “The Last Skiers”, however, are protagonists who in short sequences grant us deep insights into their lives. At the same time, archive material integrates the time level of the past with the present in an original way. And last but not least, the film’s great strength is its consistent and enduring visual language, where every shot speaks for itself. In short: “The Last Skiers” is a small masterpiece. Within eleven minutes it demonstrates what documentary film can do.


Prize for the Most Outstanding Camera Work
 “The Iron Digger”
Anil Budha Magar, Nepal

The film “The Iron Digger”, for which Narayan GC held the camera, gives us one thing above all: time. It grants us time to look and time to immerse ourselves. First and foremost, this has to do with the cinematographer, who also takes his time: he calmly documents the village of Jelbang in the southern part of Nepal’s Jaljala mountains and gains the protagonist’s trust. On the one hand, this enables him to capture poignantly beautiful moods of light and atmospheres, and on the other hand, to participate in the life story of the 86-year-old protagonist. In addition to the actual topic – the traditional production of iron from iron ore – we learn through his images about the joy and sorrow of the once proud iron digger, who now passes on his knowledge to a younger generation. Technically sophisticated shots of fire, embers and molten iron round off the camera’s performance. At the same time, the camera always maintains a calm focus on what is essential and aesthetic, thus taking us on a cinematic journey to the former iron village and its inhabitants.

Prize for the Special Film
“Märzengrund” (Beyond the Alp)
Adrian Goiginger, Austria

The mountains as a place of retreat and safety when breathing space shrinks in the valley: Adrian Goiginger’s cinematic adaptation of Felix Mitterer’s play of the same name impresses with strong images removed from tired homeland tropes. The viewer is immersed in the rough world of mountain farming, whose atmosphere is further enhanced by an outstanding ensemble of actors. With special sensitivity and attention to detail, Goiginger depicts the gnarled characters and their destructive power as well as two separate time levels: the late 1960s and the present. A demanding mountain film drama that engages viewers at every moment. 

Honourable Mention by the Jury
“Avenâl” (Avenâl – Crossroads of Nations and Peoples at the Predil Pass)
Anna Sandrini, Italy

This film by Anna Sandrini offers a cinematic journey through the history of the town of Cave del Perdil, a frontier land hidden in the forests of the Julian Alps. The film explores the turbulent history of this area. Its symbolic journey through the abandoned mine’s underground tunnels invites us to reflect on the impact of human activity on the natural mountain environment. In a symbolic way, the cinematic narrative connects diverse human stories from the underground and from above. It presents a world which by now is abandoned, yet still fascinating. This film is for everyone whose curiosity urges them to discover the deeper meaning of hidden underground treasures from the past.

Honourable Mention by the Jury
“Legenda o Zlatorogu” (The Legend of Goldenhorn)
Lea Vučko, Damir Grbanovic, Slovenia
This short film conveys the preservation of an artistic craft, namely frame by frame, digitally hand-drawn animation. The title “Goldenhorn” symbolizes how nature itself is immortal. This film presents a fascinating journey across the meaning of myths and symbols. It furthermore presents a visual interpretation of a Slovenian folk tale. It takes place in winter in the Julian Alps, at a time when the supernatural is still intertwined with everyday life. It is a tragic love story about values and our relationship with nature. The universal symbolism of this story is reflected by means of a highly unique colour scheme, which references expressionism. The atmosphere created by the musical score also makes this animated film exceptional.

Honourable Mention by the Jury 
“The Way Home”
Joe Lee, Taiwan
The short film “The Way Home” reveals the Taiwanese mountainside through cinematic images of the highest intensity. Its camera work is meditative. The film takes viewers on a quiet, spiritual mountain journey and presents an escape from the chaos of everyday life. The Bunun carrier A-song finds the body of a missing hiker during a search and rescue operation. The symbolic connection between the two reveals the transcendent process of life and death. This story could be placed among other traditional tales and brings us closer to the wisdom about this beautiful part of the Taiwanese mountain world.