127 films, a single planet: the film programme of the 67th Trento Film Festival celebrates the mountains and the elements

Published 09/04/2019

From documentaries and feature films to restored classics and contemporary experimentation, from international to local cinema, the 2019 selection recounts the mountains as sensitive tips of the icebergs of planet Earth, in a year seeing an awakening awareness of younger generations as regards global warming and environmental risks.

The traditional elements of the festival include the varied programme of quality films in the competition, the surprises of the  Special Screenings section, the best of adventure film in Alp&ism, full-length fiction films in the Premieres section, the ethnographic High Lands section, films from Trentino-Alto Adige in Near Horizons, experimental and artistic works in Sixth Degree, nature film in Muse.Doc and animated films for children in TFF Family. In addition, the 67th edition is characterised by the special programmes “Destination… Morocco”, an invitation to explore the geographical area and the people of the North African country,  along with “Fragile Friends” dedicated to trees and forests, inspired by the catastrophic storm in the Dolomites at the end of October 2018.


15 full-length films and 12 short films from 18 different countries will compete for the Gold and Silver Gentians at the 67th edition, awarded by an international jury, in the most prestigious section of Trento Film Festival. This has become a point of reference for many other mountain film festivals all over the world, where the works discovered and awarded prizes in Trento are a recurring presence.


There are three Italian documentaries: In questo mondo by Anna Kauber (best documentary in the section Italiana.doc at the last Turin Film Festival) focuses on female shepherds in Italia and is the result of a journey lasting over two years and a hundred interviews with women who have chosen a traditionally male job; Francesco Fei’s La regina di Casetta (Best Film in the Italian  Competition at the Festival dei Popoli in 2018) recounts four seasons in the life of Gregoria, the only girl left in Casetta di Tiara, a village inhabited by only eleven people, of whom eight are pensioners, in a remote part of the  Tuscan-Emilian Apennines; it will instead be the world premiere for Storie di pietre by Alessandro Leone, perhaps the best film made following the earthquake in central Italy, paying homage to a culture and an area that wish to stay alive and challenge post-earthquake isolation, focusing on the deep bond of the small community of Frascaro near Norcia, in an area where the shaking never ceases.


There are four full-length films representing the climbing and adventurous spirit of the festival in the competition, all seeing their Italian premiere: Manaslu by a veteran of the genre, the Austrian Gerald Salmina, retraces the life of Hans Kammerlander, one of the greatest climbers of our time, on the occasion of his return to the mountain where he tragically lost two of his best friends in 1991; This Mountain Life by Grant Baldwin from Canada is a fascinating and profound portrait of man’s passion for the mountains, seen from several points of view, set in the magnificent Coast Mountains of British Columbia, which have inspired artists and explorers for centuries; Eric Becker’s Return to Mount Kennedy (with music by Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam) interweaves politics, climbing, music and ecology in an unforgettable account of a little known episode taking place in America in the 20th century and featuring the iconic figures of John Fitzgerald and Robert Kennedy; finally, 4 Years In 10 Minutes by Mladen Kovačević is one of the most surprising climbing films ever shown in Trento, a dreamy re-enactment of a feat on Mount Everest, through the footage and diaries of a Serbian climber, who was radically changed by this experience at the limit of human endurance.


From the highest peaks on Earth to less extreme environments with a further four spectacular films presented in the competition: Cielo, by the Canadian filmmaker Alison McAlpine (Italian premiere) was filmed on the striking desert tableland in Chile, a fascinating cinematographic daydream encompassing science and spirituality, a love poem dedicated to the nocturnal sky that invites the spectator to meditate on the infinite and the unknown; on the other side of the planet, in the midst of the majestic landscape of the Indian Himalayas, with Michal Sulima’s Piano to Zanskar (Italian premiere) we will follow the impossible journey of a piano from London to an isolated school at an altitude  of over 4,000 metres; we return to the Alps for La Grand-Messe by Valéry Rosier and Méryl Fortunat-Rossi, an entertaining portrait of fans waiting for the passage of the Tour de France on the legendary hairpin turns of the Colle dell’Izoard; finally, we conclude close to Trento with The Border Fence by the great Austrian documentary maker Nikolaus Geyrhalter, filmed on the frontier between Austria and Italy when the Austrian government announced the construction of a barrier at the Brenner pass: two years later the fence is still in a shipping  container and the feared invasion of migrants has not taken place.


From depictions of places and landscapes, the four full-length films still to be mentioned focus on personal and family portraits: Beloved by Yaser Talebi is a moving homage to 80-year-old Firouzeh, an extraordinary and courageous woman who has chosen to live in the middle of the mountains in Iran, with the sole company of her cows; in Drømmeland, by Joost van der Wiel  from the Netherlands (Italian premiere), 60-year-old Nils has also chosen isolation, but has however taken his mobile phone with him and feels a paradoxical need to share his life as a hermit online, giving free rein to his ego; the landscape of rural Turkey acts as a backdrop in Tekeoglu Orhan’s Time to Leave (Italian premiere), featuring Hasan, who previously emigrated to Germany but has returned to his hut in the mountains, waiting for his son to join him; the upper Tyrolean valley of Lareintal is the setting for Are You Sleeping, Brother Jakob? by Stefan Bohun (Italian premiere), in which four brothers, including the director, come together to ask themselves about the fate of the fifth, who committed suicide, in a heart-wrenching film about mourning, family and memories.

The short films in the competition section include the Italian premiere of Riafn by the award-winning director from Alto Adige Hannes Lang, with a film journey through the sound landscape of the Alps, featuring dialects, song and the calls of shepherds; Somnivm by the Finnish artist Jonna Kina, a mysterious rendition of the marble quarry landscape of  Carrara; Stations by Julien Huger, a visionary portrait of the extensive  anthropization of the Alps, as a result of winter sports and tourist exploitation, and Circus Movements by the photographer Lukas Berger, in which the spectacular landscapes of Ethiopia act as a backdrop for the performance of circus pupils.


In addition to presentation of the restored versions of Der Kampf Ums Matterhorn by Mario Bonnard and Nunzio Malasomma (Germany, 1928) with live musical accompaniment from Marco Dalpane and the ensemble Musica nel buio, the classic mountain film Premier de cordée (France, 1943) from across the Alps and the Soviet cult movie Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (Estonia, 1978), the section also includes the closing film in this 67th edition of the festival on Saturday 4 May: the riveting Aquarela by the master documentary maker Victor Kossakovsky, former winner of the Gold Gentian in Trento in 2012 with ¡Vivan las antipodas!, is an exploration of the changing beauty and pure power of water, from Lake Baikal in Russia to the Salto Angel waterfalls in Venezuela: an unforgettable masterpiece already celebrated at dozens of international  festivals.


There are two Italian documentaries on subjects and figures very dear to the festival: Marcello Pastonesi’s  L’altro spazio – Viaggio nelle aree interne d’Italia follows the journey through the Italian peninsula of the architect Mario Cucinella, former curator of the Italian Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennial, as he seeks not so much of traces of identity as ideas for the future of inland areas in our country; Fosco Maraini, il miramondo by Marco Colli and Alberto Meroni (Italian premiere) is an original portrait of the famous anthropologist, traveller, writer, climber and photographer, who was distinguished by a frenetic energy leading him to travel and explore from an early age, first southern Italy and Sicily and then the Orient, Tibet and Japan.

After the recent tragedy on Nanga Parbat, with the death of the two climbers Tom Ballard and Daniele Nardi, the festival will pay homage to the memory of the British and Italian climbers by showing once again the documentary Tom by Elena Goatelli and Angel Luis Esteban Vega already presented at the 2015 festival, together with the short film Da zero a ottomila, the story of Daniele Nardi by Stefano Ardito.

The section is completed by a film screened to recall the Trentino filmmaker Francesco Dal Bosco, who passed away at the beginning of the year, his Apocalisse made in 2010, and by the world premieres of two productions supported by Montura, the main sponsor of the festival: Eloise Barbieri’s Ani, le monache di Yaqen gar and Keno City, Yukon by Paola Rosà and Antonio Senter.


This is the non-competitive section dedicated to the present and future of mountain areas and peoples, a description that perfectly fits the Italian film La nostra pietra by Alessandro Soetje about a visionary project by Daniele Kihlgren, the eccentric rebel third child in a family of wealthy entrepreneurs, who wishes to restore an abandoned village in the mountains of Abruzzo to make it into an “albergo diffuso”, providing hotel accommodation in scattered buildings.


The other full-length films in the section invite spectators to explore the world presented at Trento Film Festival: from a valley in Pakistan transformed by a dam in the visionary The Absence of Apricots by Daniel Asadi Faezi (Italian premiere), to the tropical  forests of Colombia with their infinite variety of plant species in Guillermo Quintero’s Homo Botanicus; from the memory of Yugoslavian resistance to Fascist occupation conserved in Slovenian forests in Greetings From Free Forests by Ian Soroka, to Kyrgyzstan and the biggest walnut forest in the world in Zaheed Mawani’s Harvest Moon (Italian premiere).

There are three Italian short films in the High Lands section: Caterina Erica Shanta’s  A History About Silence filmed in the Belluno Cadore region, Val Grande: itinerario di circostanza by Ivan Gnani about a valley in the north of the Piedmont region, and Alessio Salvini’s Tecchiaioli about the workers who ensure the safety of walls of marble in quarries in the Apuan Alps.


This year ALP&ISM is again the most extensive section in Trento Film Festival, with 28 full-length and short works dedicated to the feats and stars of the world of climbing, extreme sports and adventure. The “cast” will as usual appeal strongly to enthusiasts, with the most famous and popular figures on the global scene: from young superstars such as Alex Honnold, Adam Ondra, David Lama, Tommy Caldwell, Kilian Jornet, the Pou brothers and Aaron Durogati, to legends such as Alex Txikon, Reinhold Messner, Lynn Hill, Conrad Anker, Peter Habeler, Christoph Heinz and Maciej Berbeka.


A true all-star documentary including many of these protagonists is represented by Dina Khreino’s Fine Lines (Italian premiere), in which for the first time in a single film, twenty of the world’s greatest mountaineers and climbers talk about what drives them to risk everything for the thrill of the unknown; Kilian Jornet: Camino Al Everest by Josep Serra documents the historic double ascent of Everest without oxygen by the greatest sky runner of all time, as the culmination of his “Summits of My Life” project over a period of years; in Pumori, la hija de la montaña the talented Basque climber Alex Txikon pays homage to the young Spanish climbers who died in the 2001 expedition to Mount Pumori in the Himalayas, while the incomparable climbing champion Adam Ondra will feature in no less than two films, Age of Ondra and The A.O.

The Italian feature films in the limelight of Alp&ism are Non abbiate paura di sognare by Klaus Pierluigi Dell’Orto, in which Nicola Tondini exchanges ideas with other climbers, such as Christoph Hainz, Hansjorg Auer and Reinhold Messner, as regards the sense of adventure in the mountains, taking the opening of a new route as a starting point; in Monica Dovarch’s Climbing the elixir, two enthusiastic hikers retrace intrepid climbs by courageous Sardinian shepherds in the Ogliastro and Nuoro areas, where there is the highest concentration of  centenarians in the world; Sutt’u picu ru suli by Fabrizio Antonioli presents a history of Sicilian climbing from the 1930s to the present day; finally in Antonello Padovano’s The Ascent of Everest, Sir Edmund Hillary retraces the steps in the first victorious ascent of Everest, using unprecedented testimony.



The spectacular section dedicated to the best nature documentaries, selected and presented in collaboration with MUSE, Trento Science Musem, has been confirmed. The films scheduled include the Italian premieres of Queen Without Land by the Norwegian filmmaker Asgeir Helgestad, which follows the life a mother polar bear and her cubs as they try to deal with the radical change in their territory caused by global warming, and Bird of Prey by the American Eric Liner, which offers fascinating documentation of a project to safeguard the majestic Philippine eagle, the rarest bird of prey on the planet, against the backdrop of spectacular mountain scenery not previously documented at the festival.


In addition to the many activities and workshops, the festival also offers children and their families the chance to go to the cinema, this year with two entertaining animated feature films chosen from the best international festivals: Gordon & Paddy, by the Swedish filmmaker Linda Hambäck, also to be released in Italy thanks to Wanted Cinema, mixes the entertaining adventures of animals in a wood with references to the popular Scandinavian crime genre; and The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales by Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner, creators of the extraordinary classic Ernest & Celestine, an amusing collection of animal stories set in the countryside… which is much less calm and peaceful than one is led to believe.


The section dedicated to productions, stories and authors from Trentino-Alto Adige, in collaboration with Trentino Film Commission, will present 10 full-length and short works, both by established filmmakers on the regional scene, such as Michele Trentini with Latte nostro, Soheila Mohebi with Una casa sulle nuvole and Elena Goatelli and Angel Luis Esteban Vega with Auspicio, and by emerging talents with their first films, such as the students of the film school Zelig in Bolzano Antonio Di Biase and Clara Delva, or the filmmaker and artist from Rovereto Gaetano Liberti.