In a distinguishing move as a mountain film festival, the Ulsan Ulju Mountain Film Festival (UMFF) established the Mountain section this year, bringing together films about mountain climbing and outdoor sports. The audience will vote for their favorite film, which will receive the Audience Award. Films under the climbing category will feature the experiences of seasoned climbers and the exploits of a young and passionate generation. There are films about those who love and live in the mountains: UMCA recipient Stephen Venables’ Antarctic South Georgia Island expedition in A Southern Quest, the biographical journey of 2021’s first Asian recipient of the Piolet d’Or Lifetime Achievement Award, Yamanoi Yasushi, in A Life of Climber, and the story of a renowned Canadian alpinist in Spindrift – The Barry Blanchard Story. There are also films about up-andcoming climbers who will be making climbing history: Brette Harrington and her climbing team in Reel Rock: Rayu, and young Thai climbers in The Green Green Pyramid. Some films convey the intensity of goal-oriented challenges coupled with exhilarating drama: Antoine Girard of 8000+ returns with a Karakoram paragliding expedition in Air Karakoram; a vivid exploration story about two teams exploring Canada’s deepest caves in Subterranean; the transformative power of cycling in The Engine Inside; Air, where the fierce world of free divers is contrasted with the crazy beautiful ocean; and Wild Waters, which depicts world-class kayaker Nouria Newman overcoming a slump to attempt kayaking a 30m waterfall in Ecuador. Still other films warm our hearts with stories about human triumph: No Legs. All Heart, about participating in the Race Across America on a modified bike, and Full Circle, about attempting free ski jumps with a single ski. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Sir Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent of Mount Everest. There is a prequel to every history. Everest: by those who were there allows us to trace the origins of climbing history dating back to the 1920s. Lastly, this year’s IAMF grand prix recipient Eliza Kubarska’s K2 – Touching the Sky (much like her award-winning 2021 film The Wall of Shadows) is based on the stories of Himalayan climbing, built on the sufferings and understanding of the climbers’ families.
Jinna Lee, Programmer