Mountain film

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A still from the 1929 German film The White Hell of Pitz Palu. Bundesarchiv Bild 102-13954, Filmplakat "Die weisse Holle vom Piz Palu".jpg
A still from the 1929 German film The White Hell of Pitz Palu .

A mountain film is a film genre that focuses on mountaineering and especially the battle of human against nature. In addition to mere adventure, the protagonists who return from the mountain come back changed, usually gaining wisdom and enlightenment.



Although the first mountain film, depicting the ascent of the Mont Blanc by the American climber Frank Ormiston-Smith, was released in 1903, the mountain film genre is most associated with the German Bergfilme (singular: Bergfilm) released in the 1920s. Some critics describe the German mountain film as an indigenous national / cultural genre, comparable to the American western.

The most important director of mountain films was Dr. Arnold Fanck. According to an essay by Doug Cummings in the DVD release of the landmark The Holy Mountain (1926), Fanck shot his first motion picture in 1913, and after serving in World War I, purchased a rare Ernemann slow-motion camera, taught himself to shoot on location during an expedition to climb the Jungfrau, taught himself to edit on his mother's kitchen table, and distributed the finished product himself. The film was eventually called Das Wunder des Schneeschuhs  [ de ] (The Wonders of Skiing, 1920) and was an instant success.

The young interpretative dancer Leni Riefenstahl was mesmerized by Fanck's fifth feature, Mountain of Destiny (1924), and successfully pursued Fanck and his star Luis Trenker, convincing them to make her the star of The Holy Mountain. It took three days to write and over a year to film on location in the Alps. This started Riefenstahl's own career as a filmmaker. Fanck went on to produce the ski-chase The White Ecstasy (1931) with Riefenstahl and legendary Austrian skier Hannes Schneider, then in turn served as Riefenstahl's editor on her 1932 film The Blue Light, which brought her to the attention of Adolf Hitler. The popularity of the German mountain films waned, then disappeared, in the run-up to World War II.

Modern mountain films

Mountain films pose unusual difficulties for the filmmaking process; although parts can and have been shot in studios, filming on location presents practical challenges such as low temperatures, variable weather, and the objective dangers of the mountain environment. Directors may "cheat" by filming the actors in a less dangerous area, such as on the slopes of a ski resort, and intersperse with shots of the real location taken with a telephoto lens.

Although experienced climbers are often used, in roles ranging from consulting to standing in for the actors, the resulting film may not seem particularly logical to an audience knowledgeable about climbing. For instance, a rescuer in the film may take a hard, but dramatic-looking route, even though in real life, time is of the essence and rescuers will always go by the easiest available route.[ citation needed ]

International Alliance for Mountain Film

The International Alliance for Mountain Film (IAMF) [1] is an organization committed to the future of mountain film. IAMF was set up in February 2000 and founding members of the alliance included film festivals in Autrans, France; Banff, Canada; Cervinia, Italy; Graz, Austria; Lugano, Switzerland; Les Diablerets, Switzerland; Torello, Spain; and Trento, Italy and one museum, Museo Nazionale della Montagna in Turin, Italy.

Soon other film festivals joined IAMF over time, which is now composed by twenty members from some of the most important mountain film festivals in the world and one museum, Museo Nazionale della Montagna in Turin, Italy, representing 17 countries of Europe, Asia, and North and South America. IAMF has now become one of the main point of reference concerning mountain filming.

The following festivals are today members of IAMF, in addition to Museo Nazionale della Montagna in Turin.

Festival International du Film de Montagne 1984 Autrans Francefirst week in December
Banff Mountain Film Festival 1976 Banff Canadabeginning of November
International Film Festival for Mountains 1998 Bansko Bulgaria November
International Mountain Film Festival Domžale 2007 Domžale Slovenia April
Dundee Mountain Film Festival 1983 Dundee Scotlandlast weekend of November
Internationales Berg und Abenteuer Filmfestival 1986 Graz Austriasecond weekend of November
Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2000 Kathmandu Nepal beginning of December
Kendal Mountain Film Festival 1980 Kendal Great Britain third weekend in November
Festival du film des Diablerets  [ fr ]1969 Les Diablerets Switzerlandlast week of September
Festival dei Festival 1993 Lugano Switzerlandbeginning of June
Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films "Vertical" 1996 Moscow RussiaApril
Medzinárodný Festival Horských Filmov Poprad 1993 Poprad Slovakia second week of October
Taos Mountain Film Festival 2001 Taos United Statessecond week in October
Internationales Bergfilmfestival Tegernsee  [ de ]2003 Tegernsee Germanythird weekend in October
Mezinárodni Horolezecký Filmový Festival 1980 Teplice nad Metují Czech Republic last weekend in August
Festival de Cinema de Muntanya i Aventura de Torelló 1983 Torelló Spainthird week in November
Trento Film Festival  [ de ]1952 Trento Italylast week of April and the first week of May
Festival Internacional De Cine De Montaña Ushuaia Shh... 2007 Ushuaia Argentina second half of August
Spotkania z Filmem Górskim 2007 Zakopane Poland first half of September

There are many other mountain film festivals too which are not part of the alliance, such as the Edinburgh Mountain Film Festival and Mountainfilm in Telluride.

According to the website for the Alliance, "the Alliance determines that one of its first priorities is to inform audiences and filmmakers about the global film festival opportunities. As well, information is shared on films, programming and technology, promotion and ticketing and funding challenges. An agreement emerges to take every opportunity to cross-promote mountain film festivals around the world and to meet twice a year at member festival events."

IAMF created also the IAMF Grand Prix in order to recognize career leaders in mountain film. [2]

Recipients of the IAMF Grand Prix:

List of mountain films

See also

Related Research Articles

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<i>Mountain of Destiny</i> 1924 film

Mountain of Destiny is a 1924 German silent drama film written and directed by Arnold Fanck and starring Hannes Schneider, Frida Richard, Erna Morena, and Luis Trenker. The film is about an alpinist who falls to his death while climbing a dangerous peak. His son later succeeds where his father had failed. The film was released in the United Kingdom with the title The Mountaineers. After seeing Mountain of Destiny, Leni Riefenstahl, then a dancer, decided she wanted to start appearing in films. She got in touch with Fanck and starred in his 1926 film The Holy Mountain.

<i>The Great Leap</i> (film) 1927 film

The Great Leap is a 1927 German silent comedy film directed by Arnold Fanck and starring Leni Riefenstahl, Luis Trenker and Hans Schneeberger. A young Italian girl living in the Dolomites falls in love with a member of a tourist party skiing on the nearby mountains.

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  1. "International Alliance for Mountain Film".
  2. "International Alliance for Mountain Film - IAMF Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 28 July 2013.