Mongolian horseman documentary wins 2021 Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival grand prize

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      Due to fatal avalanches and COVID-19 clusters at ski resorts, outdoor enthusiasts need to take extra precautions when planning to head out into B.C.’s winter wonderlands.

      But one of the safest ways to enjoy the Great Outdoors at the moment is to take it all in from the comfort of home.

      The 24th edition of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival kicks off online today (February 19) and continues until February 28 with an array of screen offerings covering everything from impressive physical feats to environmental issues to animated films.

      Meanwhile, the VIMFF announced its awards prior to this year’s festival.

      Among the winners is  “Crux”, by B.C. codirectors Zac Hoffman and Casey Dubois, won the Best Canadian Film award for their profile of a recovering addict faced mental-health challenges as pandemic restrictions separated him from the rock climbing that helped him rise out of his personal struggles.

      While many outdoor activities involve physical risk-taking, VIMFF 2021 jury member Pat Morrow cited the internal risks that both the filmmaker and subject took in making this film.

      “They say you can tell a climbing film is good when it makes your palms sweat,” Morrow stated. “Well, Crux made our palms sweat, even in scenes when Harvey Wright, the lead character, wasn’t climbing. The jury felt that both the filmmakers and their subject went out on a psychological limb to tell this difficult story, and their absolute trust in each other resulted in this fine film.”

      Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival

      The top award went to the French documentary The Horse Tamer, in which director and ethnographer Hamid Sardar follows an intrepid horseman who pursues horse thieves across Mongolia.

      VIMFF 2021 jury member Peruzzo de Andrade explained the reason why the jury chose this film for the prize.

      “It is clear that the production of this film required the director to seek meaningful relationships and act with integrity and cultural resonance,” de Andrade stated. “Folded into an examination of human limitations and possibility, Sardar achieved an outstanding production which the jury determined the recipient of the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival Grand Prize.”

      Here’s the full list of winners.

      Grand Prize: The Horse Tamer (France)

      Best Mountain Culture Film: “Irakli's Lantern” (U.K.)

      Best Climbing Film: “Free As Can Be” (USA)

      Best Canadian Film: “Crux” (B.C.) 

      Best Mountain Sport Film: “Confessions of a Runner” (Lebanon) 

      Best Environmental Film: “Echoes In The Arctic” (USA) 

      Best Adventure Film: Wall of Shadows (Poland) 

      Best Short Film: “The Great Milestone” (“El gran hito”) (Spain)

      Special Mention:Lost At Sea” (U.K.)

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.