2019 – Mountain Film Festival – Press Kit 19 Oct. 2019 – PT02 – Winners

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.

2019 – Mountain Film Festival – Press Kit 19 Oct. 2019 – PT06 Jury Statement

PT06 -Jury Statements, 17 October 2019                                  2019-10-19

Great Prize of the City of Tegernsee
“This Mountain Life”
Grant Baldwin and Jenny Rustemeyer, Canada
Father-son-narratives set against a mountain backdrop are not exactly rare. What we found novel about this film is that it tells the great mountain adventure of a mother and her daughter. We encounter two strong, charismatic women, who together master 1,430 miles on skis from Vancouver to Alaska. The film maker not only captures this great journey with impressive, carefully composed images, but he also succeeds at widening the focus to the question what people seek in the mountain world and sometimes to some extent find.

Category Mountain Nature
“Iceberg Nations”
Fernando Martín Borlán, Spain
This film poetically and artfully debunks the idea of land ownership and nation states. It questions the power of these concepts in the context of global warming. With humour and creativity, the disappearing iceberg is made into a metaphor for human constructs which are inadequate for meeting the climate challenge. All of this is delivered in just four minutes.

Category Mountain Experience
“The Pathan Project”
Guillaume Broust, Belgium
Why do we travel to dangerous and unexplored mountains in Pakistan, if we could just as well get our fill of adventure at home? This unusual expedition film offers the following answer: We like to have fun. Despite accidents and setbacks, the film succeeds at demonstrating outstanding achievements on the rock, yet never loses its tongue-in-cheek, self-mocking perspective. We were equally convinced by the humorous narrative with its fictional flashback and parodies of famous films.

Category Mountain Life
Jane Dyson, Ross Harrison, Australia
We find ourselves in some remote village in the Indian Garhwal Himalayas. The spirits have retreated ever higher into the mountains, according to one of the local women which the film makers have become very intimate with. The film shows a breakable world threatened by the centrifugal powers of modernity. However, it also displays rituals in connection with spirit worship which bring people back together.
Fortunately, audience members do not become possessed by these spirits. Still, they will find it difficult to resist the magnetism of such unique images and this successful montage.

Award for a Junior Film Maker
“Höhenmeter” (Altitude)
Dominik and Julian Weigand, Germany
The two protagonists of this story are unusual for the mountain film genre, which loves to deal in extreme physical achievements, experiences at the outer limit and meaningless conquests. Two likeable students from Rosenheim, Bavaria, have discovered something they can give back to their homeland mountains. With joy and nonchalance, they approach the execution of their plans. 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.

Outstanding Camera Work
“Bayandalai – Lord of the Taiga”
Aner Etxebarria Moral, Pablo Vidal Santos, Spain
An old reindeer shepherd tells us about his life, embedded in the rough natural environment of the Taiga and the fateful ministry of gods. The camera completes his narrative with a variation of detail-rich close-ups and distance shots from high above (from the perspective of the gods, so to speak). Simple objects – the reflective contents of a tea cup, gnarly fingers on fur – become poetic images for the great cycle of becoming and passing away.

The Special Film
“Riafn” (Calling),
Hannes Lang, Germany
This film renders an extraordinary portrait of human individuals who live on a remote mountain farm. It is a surprising experience to delve into the world of time-honoured communication between human, nature and animal. Acoustic richness and expressive images result in a cinematic meditation against an alpine backdrop.

Honourable Mentions
Marcher pour Genna (A Christmas Pilgrimage)
Frédéric Furnelle, Olivier Bourguet, Belgium
The film makers spend several weeks hiking on a pilgrimage route across Ethiopia, where they meet faithful pilgrims on their way to the country’s biggest Christmas celebration. The film succeeds at documenting the hardships of the long journey, authentically captures the heartfelt, respectful encounters and conveys to viewers a country and a culture barely known elsewhere (but which we shall hear more about in future thanks to the Peace Prize awarded to its president).

Ani, le monache di Yaqen gar (The Nuns of Yaqen Gar)
Eloïse Barbieri, Italy
Together with Buddhist nuns, film maker Eloïse Barbieri lives for several weeks under the most basic conditions in a Tibetan monastic community. The film’s special achievements include the film maker’s capacity to actually reach this place, where free practice of religion is not a right, but might at best be granted by Chinese authorities. With a watchful camera and reflections about her own situation, Barbieri creates a snapshot of a place under pressure, which might by now have vanished altogether.