2nd Ulju Mountain Film Festival – Winners 2017

We present the list of winners of the 2nd Ulju Mountain Film Festival that took place from September 21st – 25th, in Ulju, Ulsan, South Korea.

This year festival feature 97 films from 21 countries. The opening film was “The Eagle Huntress” by Otto Bell (US) and the closing film was “Tashi and the Monk” by Andrew Hinton, Johnny Burke (India). Organizers estimated that this year 61,000 visitors attended the screenings.

International Competition Awards

Grand Prize

Freedom under Load by Pavol Barabas – Slovakia | 2016 – 58 min.

They walk up and down the 3,000m Tatra, with over-100kg-loads on their backs. They are porters, i.e., professional carriers who carry up the necessities to the mountain hut on top of Tatra and carry down trash from the hut. These aged porters with gray hair have spent their lives there out of their love for Tatra. Although sweat soaks their bodies because of the snow-covered slanted road, their faces are full of smiles. Could it be because what they carry is not a burden but a manifestation of the freedom they chose? The warm and magnificent beauty of the massive mountain is smoothly juxtaposed against the protagonists who are real mountain men. This documentary quietly poses a question about how heavy our loads would weigh and what their meanings could be. (UMFF Catalogue)



Best Alpinism Film

Link Sar West by Jonathan Griffith – UK | 2016 – 30 min.

In 2012, Jonathan GRIFFITH starts an expedition team to reach the 7,000-meter peak, Link Sar which no one had ever laid tracks on. Located in Karakorum, Pakistan, Link Sar is a breathtakingly beautiful peak but with dangerous climbing conditions. Despite the challenges nature throws his way such as bad weather and the risk of avalanche on a steep cliff, his willingness to defy his limits and climb the summit never fades away. After four years of hardship, he finally manages to stand on top of the Western summit of Link Sar. (UMFF Catalogue)



Best Climbing Film

Blocheads by Alastair Lee – UK | 2016 – 59 min.

The history of bouldering, a form of rock climbing related to our most primitive instincts, is not so different from that of alpinism. When early explorers started visiting European mountains, alpinists practiced rock climbing at low heights in the suburbs so as to climb higher and more difficult mountains. This is what British called “bouldering,” which later became popular as Pierre ALLAIN and his friends championed bouldering in Fontainebleu in the 1930s. The present-day concept of bouldering embracing a dynamic style of movement owes to American gymnast John GILL’s vision. He opened the era of high-level bouldering by introducing Dyno in which both feet will leave the rock face and return again once the target hold is caught. This film introduces beautiful boulders across Britain as well as discusses the history of bouldering in depth by interviewing the world’s best boulderers. (UMFF Catalogue)


Best Adventure & Exploration Film

Diving into the Unknown by Juan Reina – Finland | 2016 – 82 min.

A group of Finnish drivers arrive in Plurdalen, Norway. It cannot be their first time visiting here since they seem skilled at cutting a triangular hole on the ice before diving. Yes, it is true. It is definitely not their first time. A team of six divers has already swum down into the cave to depths of over 130 meters. However, now, only four of them are left as two tragically died during the previous expedition. This film follows how these four divers attempt to retrieve the bodies of their friends, discussing the inscrutable power of nature and by extension, humanism. Although the Norwegian authorities called off the official recovery operation after it was being deemed too risky, the survivors secretly set out on a life-threatening mission into the abyss. This remarkable film calmly explores sensitive issues with its simple but stunning visual characteristics. (UMFF Catalogue)



Best Nature & People Film

Becoming Who I Was by Moon Chang-yong, Jeon Jin – South Korea | 2016 – 96 min.

In Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche refers to a reincarnated monk. They are born again to continue their works from the previous life, and are revered by the people. Angdu, who was born in India’s Ladakh on the border with Tibet, is a Rinpoche. Director MOON Chang-yong filmed the boy’s life from 2009 when he was five years old, until 2016 when he reached 12 years of age. This documentary is the record of the life of a boy born with a special destiny. In this process, his teacher Urgain plays a major role. On their journey to Tibet, the most moving element of the film, they walk the path of enlightenment and penance. As they journey across the snowy fields, Angdu slowly learns the deeper emotions of life. The film was awarded the Grand Prix of the Generation Kplus International Jury at the 67th Berlin International Film Festival in 2017.


Special Jury Prize

Dodo’s Delight by Peter Mortime, Sean Villanueva-O’Driscoll – US | 2016 – 28 min.

This is a cheerful exploration movie depicting a 79-year-old captain Bob and 4 young climbers from Europe and America on Dodo’s Delight. As they travel from Greenland to Baffin Island, they cook, sing, and play instruments. The joyful theme song they composed together rings in your ears even after the movie is over.

Audience Award

Diving into the Unknown by Juan Reina – Finland | 2016 – 82 min.

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