Slovenia has no shortage of niche events and festivals for those who still enjoy the pleasures of the big screen in public, from Kinodvor’s Film Under the Stars at Ljubljana Castle to the Grossmann Fantastic Film & Wine Festival, which brings horror and honest trash to Ljutomer. However, it’s something that’s occurring next week is that’s perhaps the most Slovenian of all – the Mountain Film Festival (Festival gorniškega filma).
1. Slovenian climbers rock
We’re huge admirers of the past and present of Slovenian climbing here at TSN, be it folks with names like Čop, Kunaver, Zaplotnik, Štremfelj, Prezelj, Karo, or Humar in the Julian Alps, Himalayas, Yosemite and Patagonia, or on the wall in sports climbing with figures such as “the best climber in the world”, the still teenaged Janja Garnbret from Kranj. In short, Slovenia has played and continues to play an outsized role in the world of climbing, with many first ascents and new routes. Learning about it will help draw you closer to the land, and you may even end up on Triglav.
If you want to read more about the history of the scene here, take a look at the book Alpine Warriors.
2. Big screen adventure
So the festival’s got that Slovenian cultural heritage going for it – it’s organised by the Mountain Culture Association (Društvo za gorsko kulturo) and the legendary Silvo Karo – but for me the chief appeal is this: these films will be presented on screens far larger than the ones you have at home. They’re thus are better able to convey the full majesty and terror of the scenes on display (as Aleš Kunaver said, “in the mountains magnificence is diametrically opposed to comfort”).
That movie about the guy who climbed that thing without a rope? Imagine seeing this on something much, much bigger:
3. The programme is world class
The programme looks great, with most of the big mountain features and shorts from the last year or so, and there are also movies on topic adjacent to climbing, like the night sky or environment, so we’ll just present the following convenient selection of trailers, with a lot more to be found at the website.
4. A chance to meet the stars
What else can you expect at a mountain film festival in Slovenia? Climbers, and great ones – on the screen, on the stage and in the audience, many of whom live a short drive from the event. Sp Andrej Štremfelj will give a lecture about his ascent of Everest in 1979, when he climbed with the legendary Nejc Zaplotnik, while Aleš Česen and Luka Stražar will be there talking about their ground-breaking ascent, done with Tom Livingstone, of Latok 1 in 2018, “the Holy Grail of high altitude climbing”.
Other names set to talk about their lives and climbs include Rado Kočevar, Hansjörg Aeur, Klemen Bečan and Marija Jeglič. Beyond the Slovenian scene, Colin Haley will be talking about sport alpinism, and one event that’s sure to inspire heated opinions is a roundtable discussion: “Drilling – pitons or bolts?”
5. It’s not just in Ljubljana
While the main events are held in Cankarjev dom, the festival is not confined to the capital. It also has screenings and lectures in Domžale, Celje and Radovljica, while the winning movies will play everywhere (except Celje) at the end of the festival.
You can get a PDF of the programme here
Bonus - the website is ice cool and clean
With a website that's easy to navigate and comes in Slovene and English varieties, letting you search by day, event and venue, the Slovenian Mountain Film Festival offers a perhaps unique chance to see these films on the big screen, with an audience that knows what it’s watching, in a country in love with its mountains.
Related: see all out posts tagged "mountaineering" here