Ever since the founding of the International Alliance for Mountain Film (IAMF) in February, 2000, the members have been interested in celebrating those who, through their talent, have changed the world of mountain film. IAMF members wished to express their gratitude to the filmmakers, directors and producers who have contributed throughout their careers – through loyalty and dedication, and with little regard for personal profit — to the evolution of mountain film into the prominent genre that it is today.
With this in mind, IAMF created the IAMF Grand Prix, recognizing career leaders in mountain film.
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary, the IAMF awarded Werner Herzog the 2020 Grand Prize, for the attention that he dedicates to the world of mountains, along a path that has accompanied his career from the beginning until today. In many important films he treated the mountain with many different approaches, and basically he created masterpieces that have nothing to envy the great mountaineering ascents, teaching us that "only those who dream can move mountains".
Capturing the essence of adventure in over 60 extreme films has taken filmmaker and Director of Photography Keith Partridge to some of the worlds most hostile and spectacular environments. From the Eiger’s North Face in winter four times, the Arctic in winter and Alaska, to the white-water caves of Papua New Guinea and the summit of Everest, Keith has been pushing the limits of adventure film-making for television and cinema. His multi-skilled background has enabled him to develop shooting techniques that have catapulted the viewer to the steepest of rock faces, the most challenging of ice and the remotest of locations.
One of the great masters of mountain film, he summited two 8000s as an absolute “first” (Broad Peak in 1957 and Dhaulagiri in 1960) and another four 8000s (Everest, Makalu, Gasherbrum II and K2). Before the spread of electronic technology, he was one of the very few cameramen to push up into the highest altitudes, to the point of earning himself the title of “filmmaker of the 8000s”. His film career spanned many years. From 1958, the year in which he shot his award-winning feature on the Great Ridge of Peuterey of the Mont Blanc, he marked an entire season of mountain film and have focused on peaks and ascents, exploration and ethno-anthropological reportages.
First a ski instructor and man of the mountains, and then a journalist (Montagnes Magazine, Vertical, Ski Français), producer and filmmaker, Chappaz specialises in making documentaries on alpine themes, focusing in particular on great mountaineering figures. He was also part of the team that in 1985 conceived the TV programme Montagne on FR3, for which he directed many documentaries, award winners at various international festivals. He directs the Collection Montagne for Seven Doc.
Sender Films has done more to communicate the beauty, the adventure and the athleticism of the sport of climbing to a wide audience than any other filmmakers working today. They have consistently captured the most cutting-edge climbs done by some of the best climbers in the world. Whether it’s fast and light alpinism, highball bouldering or solo climbing, Sender Films has continued to search for the best and then give their best to bring back the stories.
Anne and Erik Lapied, with their daughter Véronique, are a family resolutely committed for decades to in-depth activities concerning mountain film, always coming up with new proposals, technical and narrative innovations, and many experiences lived among the Alps and the Himalayas. Their initial interest was focused above all on the fauna of high altitudes but has broadened over time to include also the men and environments of those regions, with astonishing results.
Eric Crosland and Dave Mossop have created a new style in filming snow sports. With top-quality, innovative photography and editing, the team of Sherpas Cinema has taken the necessary risks for positively changing this genre of mountain film. It has successfully sought an innovative take on narrative formulas, and its generally award-winning films of extreme snow sports have created new audiences, transmitting mountain culture to them at the same time.
Alastair Lee has spent his last twenty years on mountains throughout the world, as both a director and a climber. His innovative films have successfully expressed his passion for that environment, gifting mountain film with a new language, in line with the contemporary world of today and capable of enriching the narration of man’s greatest adventures with new nuances. Always in contact with nature, but attentive to elements of show at the same time, he has opened up new horizons in this film sector, winning awards at all the most significant festivals.
Ermanno Olmi is one of the most renowned directors in Italian cinema, winner of many of the most important prizes, such as the Palme d'Or at Cannes or the Golden Lion at Venice, where, in 2008, he also received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. Mountains were the subject of many of his early works, in dozens of documentaries about the construction of dams and electricity lines for the Edisonvolta company. They were the focus of his first feature film, in 1959, which already showed the characteristics that would make him famous: a focus on ordinary people, the relationship with nature, solitude. In following years he steadfastly continued to promote mountain film, despite his success, even setting up an important mountain film school among other things.
Author of a large-scale of mountain-oriented and adventure films about peoples' survival in extreme conditions. His films were shot in inaccessible wilderness, on wild rivers and glacial peaks, as well as in deep caves far away from civilization. They present the manner in which man should treat the Earth, emitting love and respect for nature, enormous mental power and moral conscience. He has won over 150 film awards in Slovak Republic and abroad.
Producer and film maker, he did a enormous work of conservation and promotion of mountain and mountaineering film, carried out through the realization of films and documentaries and the promotion of masterpieces of German Bergfilm, in particular of Luis Trenker.
As a young mountaineer he opened some famous climbing routes in the Alps, like the “Hasse-Brandler” on the Cima Grande di Lavaredo. Then he began to work for the television and to film his adventures on the mountains. Some of his works have been milestones that have decisively changed the way of filming in his sector. He was the winner of 3 editions of the Trento Filmfestival.
Creator and director of the programme “Al filo de lo Imposible” on Spanish TVE, since 28 years is leading teams of mountaineers and other extreme sportsmen during their adventures around the world. More than 150 expeditions and 300 documentaries, that showed to the public the top of all the 8.000 meters mountains, the North and South Pole and many other exploits.
The celebrated director of more than 25 films, Michael Brown of Boulder, Colorado, USA, has received over 30 international film festival and industry awards, including three Emmys. But for Brown, making films is about more than winning awards and exploring uncharted territories. He is committed to “giving back” to the people of the world. Whether documenting free life-changing surgeries in Nepal, disabled athletes in Italy, or blind children in Tibet, his films always include moving human stories that highlight personal accomplishment.
Since its creation in the early 50s, the SSR (Swiss Society of Broadcasting and Television) has expressed interest in all that relates to the mountains, in the broadest sense. Thus, on the multiple channels that make up the SSR-SRG, the audience has always found programs devoted to the mountains and mountaineering. Chronicle Mountain, Pass Me the Binoculars, and similar programs, along with documentaries by such directors as Fulvio Mariani, Fausto Sassi, Gianluigi Quarti, Mino Müller and Romolo Notaris, have shown the commitment of the SSR directors to all things mountain. The SSR-SRG is regularly represented in festivals and often with great success.
Producer Jean-Pierre Bailly created his own production house MC4 (Grenoble and Paris) in the 80s, before mountain and adventure film had attained its present status in the film world. Before MC4, for example, French filmmaker/alpinists would usually look for co-pros to Television Française (A2), which produced a specialized broadcast magazine entitled The Export of Adventure, and they found themselves bereft when A2 cancelled the show. That’s when Bailly made the difficult decision to produce such documentaries himself, with young, untried filmmakers and at considerable risk. Years later, he can now look back on a record of success. His production company has contributed greatly to the evolution of the mountain film genre, and has helped many young filmmakers t live their passion and develop their craft.
A well-deserved distinction for this Swiss filmmaker, mountaineer, adventurer and businessman. Highly appreciated as a cameraman for many years at TV Italian Switzerland in Lugano, Mariani created his own production company in the early years of the 21st century. He’s well-known for his artistic and poetic sensitivity and for his ability to find just the right image to carry his meaning to the audience. His images often stand alone, not needing narration or dialogue to interpret their meaning to the viewer. His works have been successful at many festivals, with international juries and with enthusiastic audiences.
We have known for a long time that the English are wonderful documentary filmmakers. Leo Dickinson is the perfect example. Over many years, he has made us live extraordinary adventures through his images. His images are always of high quality, his camera angles unusual, but always carefully chosen! In the Alps, the Himalayas and around the world, he has captured extraordinary adventures and brought them to a broad public audience. His focus on authenticity and on the humanity of his protagonists has brought him prizes from many mountain festivals.
Filmmaker and prominent German mountaineer, Baur started his career as assistant to mountain filmmaker Lothar Brandler. Since the 70s, Baur has shown the way to tell the stories of mountain adventures. Each of his films is marked with a degree of authenticity which clearly shows his mountaineering expertise. Moreover, the quality of his images, their originality and beauty, are all benchmarks showing the work of an accomplished and talented filmmaker. The numerous Festival awards he has won are testimony to his abilities.