Mountain film

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 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 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 Der weiße Rausch ("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 is a longstanding tradition. Concerns include 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.

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.

Name Since City Country When Website
Festival International du Film de Montagne 1984 Autrans France first week in December [1]
Banff Mountain Film Festival 1976 Banff Canada beginning of November [2]
International Film Festival for Mountains 1998 Bansko Bulgaria November [3]
International Mountain Film Festival Domžale 2007 Domžale Slovenia April [4]
Dundee Mountain Film Festival 1983 Dundee Scotland last weekend of November [5]
Internationales Berg und Abenteuer Filmfestival 1986 Graz Austria second weekend of November [6]
Kathmandu International Mountain Film Festival 2000 Kathmandu Nepal beginning of December [7]
Kendal Mountain Film Festival 1980 Kendal Great Britain third weekend in November [8]
Festival International du Film Alpin Les Diablerets 1969 Les Diablerets Switzerland last week of September [9]
Festival dei Festival 1993 Lugano Switzerland beginning of June [10]
Moscow International Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films "Vertical" 1996 Moscow Russia April [11]
Medzinárodný Festival Horských Filmov Poprad 1993 Poprad Slovakia second week of October [12]
Taos Mountain Film Festival 2001 Taos United States second week in October [13]
Internationalen Bergfilm-Festival Tegernsee 2003 Tegernsee Germany third weekend in October [14]
Mezinárodni Horolezecký Filmový Festival 1980 Teplice nad Metují Czech Republic last weekend in August [15]
Festival de Cinema de Muntanya i Aventura de Torelló 1983 Torelló Spain third week in November [16]
Trento Film Festival 1952 Trento Italy last week of April and the first week of May [17]
Festival Internacional De Cine De Montaña Ushuaia Shh... 2007 Ushuaia Argentina second half of August [18]
Spotkania z Filmem Górskim 2007 Zakopane Poland first half of September [19]

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:

  • 2002 – Gerhard Baaur
  • 2003 – Leo Dickinson
  • 2004 – Fulvio Mariani
  • 2005 – Jean-Pierre Bailly
  • 2006 – Directorate General for Television Switzerland
  • 2007 – Michael Brown
  • 2008 – Sebastián Álvaro
  • 2009 – Lothar Brandler
  • 2010 – Hans-Jürgen Panitz

Examples of mountain films


  1. ^ "International Alliance for Mountain Film".
  2. ^ "International Alliance for Mountain Film - IAMF Grand Prix". Archived from the original on 2013-07-28.
  • Aspetsberger, Friedbert (ed.) (2002) Der BergFilm 1920-1940 StudienVerlag, ISBN 9783706517980
  • Halle, Randall and McCarthy, Margaret (2003) Light Motives: German Popular Cinema in Perspective ISBN 0814330452 Chapter 4
  • Giesen, Roman (2008) Der Bergfilm der 20er und 30er Jahre Frankfurt am Main: Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
  • Faszination Bergfilm: himmelhoch und abgrundtief (2008) documentary film by Hans-Jürgen Panitz & Matthias Fanck

External links

Banff Mountain Film Festival

The Banff Mountain Film Festival is an international film competition and annual presentation of short films and documentaries about mountain culture, sports, and the environment. It was launched in 1976 as The Banff Festival of Mountain Films by The Banff Centre and is held every fall in Banff, Alberta. Held concurrently is the Banff Mountain Book Festival which brings the spirit of mountain literature to Banff, and features guest speakers, readings, seminars, and an international book competition.

Immediately after the festival in November, a selection of the best films entered in the festival goes on tour. The host organization in each tour location chooses a program that reflects the interests of their community. Each community creates a unique celebration of local adventure and adventurers. The World Tour visits approximately 305 cities annually in 20 countries, reaching over 220,000 audience members.Banff Mountain Film Festival is also one of the members of the International Alliance for Mountain Film (IAMF).

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is a 2005 American romantic drama film directed by Ang Lee and produced by Diana Ossana and James Schamus. Adapted from the 1997 short story of the same name by Annie Proulx, the screenplay was written by Ossana and Larry McMurtry. The film stars Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, and Michelle Williams, and depicts the complex emotional and sexual relationship between Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist in the American West from 1963 to 1983.The film received critical acclaim and commercial success. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, Best Picture and Best Director at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Producers Guild of America Awards, Critics' Choice Movie Awards, and Independent Spirit Awards, among others. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, the most nominations at the 78th Academy Awards, where it won three—Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score—though it lost the Best Picture award to Crash in a controversial Oscars upset.In 2018, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". It is currently the most recent film chosen to be in the Registry.

Catherine Destivelle

Catherine Monique Suzanne Destivelle (born 24 July 1960) is a French rock climber and mountaineer. In 1992 she became the first woman to complete a solo ascent of the Eiger's north face. She completed the climb in winter in 17 hours. Her other notable climbs include the Bonatti Route on the north face of the Matterhorn and the southwest pillar of the Aiguille du Dru (the Bonatti Pillar). Destivelle has been the subject of several documentaries, including French director Rémy Tezier's, Beyond the Summits (Au-delà des cimes), which won the award for best feature-length mountain film at the 2009 Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Cold Mountain (film)

Cold Mountain is a 2003 epic war film written and directed by Anthony Minghella. The film is based on the bestselling 1997 novel of the same name by Charles Frazier. It stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renée Zellweger with Eileen Atkins, Brendan Gleeson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Natalie Portman, Jack White, Giovanni Ribisi, Donald Sutherland, and Ray Winstone in supporting roles. The film tells the story of a wounded deserter from the Confederate army close to the end of the American Civil War, who is on his way home to the woman he loves.

The film was a co-production of companies in the US, UK, Italy, and Romania.

Cold Mountain opened to positive reviews from critics and won several major awards. For her performance, Renée Zellweger won the Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award, all in the Best Supporting Actress category. It was also a success at the box office and became a sleeper hit grossing more than double its budget worldwide.

Cursed Mountain (film)

Cursed Mountain (Spanish: Sierra maldita) is a 1954 Spanish drama film directed by Antonio del Amo and starring Rubén Rojo, Lina Rosales and José Guardiola.

Dark Mountain (film)

Dark Mountain is a 1944 American film noir crime film directed by William Berke. It is also known as Thunderbolt and Thunder Mountain.

Dingjun Mountain (film)

Dingjun Mountain was a 1905 Chinese silent film directed by Ren Qingtai (任慶泰) a.k.a. Ren Jingfeng (任景豐), who was assisted by his cinematographer Liu Zhonglun (劉仲伦). This film, made by Beijing's Fengtai Photography (豐泰照相館), constitutes the first Chinese film ever made.The film consisted of a recording of Peking opera superstar Tan Xinpei dressed in the character Huang Zhong and singing some arie from the Peking opera of the same name. The play is a dramatised account of Battle of Mount Dingjun (219 AD) and based on an episode in the 14th-century historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The only print was destroyed in a fire in the late 1940s.

Fantasia (1940 film)

Fantasia is a 1940 American animated film produced by Walt Disney and released by Walt Disney Productions. With story direction by Joe Grant and Dick Huemer, and production supervision by Ben Sharpsteen, it is the third Disney animated feature film. The film consists of eight animated segments set to pieces of classical music conducted by Leopold Stokowski, seven of which are performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra. Music critic and composer Deems Taylor acts as the film's Master of Ceremonies, providing a live-action introduction to each animated segment.

Disney settled on the film's concept as work neared completion on The Sorcerer's Apprentice, an elaborate Silly Symphonies short designed as a comeback role for Mickey Mouse, who had declined in popularity. As production costs grew higher than what it could earn, Disney decided to include the short in a feature-length film with other segments set to classical pieces. The soundtrack was recorded using multiple audio channels and reproduced with Fantasound, a pioneering sound reproduction system that made Fantasia the first commercial film shown in stereophonic sound.

Fantasia was first released as a theatrical roadshow held in thirteen U.S. cities from November 13, 1940. While acclaimed by critics, it was unable to make a profit due to World War II cutting off distribution to the European market, the film's high production costs, and the expense of leasing theatres and installing the Fantasound equipment for the roadshow presentations. The film was subsequently reissued multiple times with its original footage and audio being deleted, modified, or restored in each version. Fantasia is the 23rd highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. when adjusted for inflation. The Fantasia franchise has grown to include video games, Disneyland attractions, and a live concert. A sequel, Fantasia 2000, co-produced by Roy E. Disney, was released in 1999. Fantasia has grown in reputation over the years and is now widely acclaimed; in 1998 the American Film Institute ranked it as the 58th greatest American film in their 100 Years...100 Movies and the fifth greatest animated film in their 10 Top 10 list.

Green Mountain Film Festival

The first Green Mountain Film Festival took place in Montpelier, Vermont in 1997. In March 1999, a second festival was held and it has been an annual March event ever since. In 2010 the festival was extended to include a series of satellite screenings in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. In 2018 the festival will also host screenings in Essex Junction, VT at the Essex Cinema.

The program focuses on new work from around the world together with a few classic films. Around half the films shown are documentaries. There are also screenings of shorts and student films. Screenings are often followed by informal discussions often involving the filmmakers themselves. The festival also features special appearances by established film critics and filmmakers. Past guests have included critics Kenneth Turan, Molly Haskell, Phillip Lopate, David Thomson, Gerald Peary, and Matthew Hays. Filmmakers have included the screenwriter and director, Robin Swicord, actor/director Giancarlo Esposito, actor Michael Murphy, producer Christine Vachon,and documentary makers Albert Maysles, Les Blank and Ralph Arlyck.

The critic Stuart Klawans, writing in The Nation, described the 2003 Green Mountain Film Festival as "a cinephile's utopia: a festival organized and supported by an entire community of local moviegoers."Matthew Hays, the Montreal-based film critic, called the 2006 festival "incredible ... a mind-bendingly fascinating diet of movies."

Every year hundreds of volunteers help run the festival and host special events at numerous venues across Montpelier, Vermont.

The Festival's Executive Director is Karen Dillon.

The 21st Green Mountain Film Festival was held on March 16-25th 2018, and featured 82 feature films and 75 shorts, hands on workshops, a “coming of age” film short course, and the first Vermont Filmmakers Summit. Karen Dillon spoke about the 21st anniversary saying that she wanted the festival to “feel like a party for everyone”.

Indian Mountaineering Foundation

Indian Mountaineering Foundation is an apex national body which organize and support, mountaineering and rock climbing expeditions at high altitudes in the Himalayas. The organization also promote and encourage schemes for related adventure activities and environmental protection work in the Indian Himalayas. IMF has organized many expeditions to the high peaks in the Himalayas including Mt.Everest.

King of the Mountain (film)

King of the Mountain is a 1981 American drama film starring Harry Hamlin, Joseph Bottoms, Deborah Van Valkenburgh, Richard Cox, Seymour Cassel and Dennis Hopper about a group that race their cars up and down Mulholland Drive for both money and prestige.

The film's primary focus is Steve (Harry Hamlin), who has found himself generally content with his uncomplicated life of working and racing. This creates some amount of tension between him and his friends, who have been losing their interest in racing and have been attempting to make serious inroads in the music industry. Steve's blossoming relationship with singer Tina (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) causes him to re-think his mantra, as he realizes that a truly fulfilling life involves more than just work and play.

The film was poorly regarded critically and did not perform well in the box office, although it was significant in being among the first films about street racing and communities of street racers, as well as because it was inspired by the activities of real people who raced in the Los Angeles area. It also marked somewhat of a return for Dennis Hopper, who had spent several months secluded away from Los Angeles prior to making his appearance.

My Side of the Mountain (film)

My Side of the Mountain is a 1969 film adaptation of the 1959 novel of the same name, by Jean Craighead George. It was directed by James B. Clark.

Mystery Mountain (serial)

Mystery Mountain is a 1934 American Western serial film directed by Otto Brower and B. Reeves Eason and starring Ken Maynard, Verna Hillie, Syd Saylor, Edward Earle, and Hooper Atchley. Distributed by Mascot Pictures, the series was a remake of Mascot's film The Hurricane Express (1932). Mystery Mountain features the second film appearance by Gene Autry.

Only the Brave (2017 film)

Only the Brave is a 2017 American biographical drama film directed by Joseph Kosinski, and written by Ken Nolan and Eric Warren Singer, based on the GQ article "No Exit" by Sean Flynn. The film tells the story of the Granite Mountain Hotshots, an elite crew of firefighters who lost 19 of 20 members while fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in June 2013, and is dedicated to their memory. It features an ensemble cast, including Josh Brolin, James Badge Dale, Jeff Bridges, Miles Teller, Alex Russell, Taylor Kitsch, Ben Hardy, Thad Luckinbill, Geoff Stults, Scott Haze, Andie MacDowell, and Jennifer Connelly.

Principal photography began in New Mexico in June 2016. Only the Brave was released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on October 20, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, with praise aimed at the cast and the film's touching tribute to its subjects. The film is dedicated to the Granite Mountain Hotshots and their families.

Red Mountain (film)

Red Mountain is a 1951 Western historical film, starring Alan Ladd, set in the last days of the US Civil War. The plot centers on an attempt by Quantrill's Raiders to stir up rebellion in the West.

Rocky Mountain (film)

Rocky Mountain is a 1950 western film directed by William Keighley and starring Errol Flynn. It also stars Patrice Wymore, who married Flynn in 1950. The film is set near the end of the American Civil War.

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams

The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams is a 1974 independent feature film inspired by a 1972 historical fiction novella written by Charles E. Sellier Jr.. The film's popularity led to an NBC television series of the same name. The title character, played by Dan Haggerty, was loosely based on California mountain man James "Grizzly" Adams (1812-1860).

The film and TV series portrayed the fictional Grizzly Adams as a frontier woodsman who fled into the mountains after he was wrongly accused of murder. While struggling to survive, Adams saves an orphaned grizzly bear cub he adopts and names Ben. The bear, while growing to its huge adult size, becomes Adams' closest companion. Consistently kind and gentle, Adams discovers and demonstrates an uncanny ability to gain the trust of most of the indigenous wildlife of the region, and he helps, sometimes rescues, takes in and tames many species. Originally a hunter, with his learned affection for wildlife Adams resolves never to harm another animal whenever possible. In the television series, Adams had two human friends, an old mountain man trader named "Mad Jack" played by Denver Pyle who was often featured with his mule ("Number Seven"), and a Native American by the name of "Nakoma" played by Don Shanks. Adams, Mad Jack, and Nakoma helped myriad mountain visitors while protecting wildlife at the same time.

NBC aired the series finale on February 21, 1982 by way of a two-hour TV movie called The Capture of Grizzly Adams where a bounty hunter used Adams' daughter, who was not seen or mentioned since the 1974 film, in a kidnap-extortion ploy to lure the fugitive mountain man back to civilization. In the end Adams proves his innocence.

The Old Man of the Mountain (film)

The Old Man of the Mountain (untitled only in the 1972 redrawn color edition with live-action footage and credits cut) is a 1933 animated short in the Betty Boop series, produced by Fleischer Studios. Featuring music recorded by Cab Calloway and His Orchestra, like in Minnie The Moocher, the short was originally released to theaters on August 4, 1933 by Paramount Productions. Calloway voices all of the characters in the cartoon save for Betty herself (talking voice provided by Bonnie Poe and singing voice provided by Mae Questel). Calloway and his orchestra also perform all of the music in the cartoon, including two songs Calloway co-wrote.

The Yellow Mountain

The Yellow Mountain is a 1954 American Technicolor Western film directed by Jesse Hibbs and starring Lex Barker, Mala Powers and Howard Duff.

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