Andrzej Bargiel. K2: Impossible Descent
K2: Impossible Descent. Andrzej Bargiel seen during a training session in La Grave, France on January 28. 2018 // Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool //

Director Steve Robillard from Austria’s incredible film K2: Impossible Descent was awarded the Grand Prize NZ Mountain Film and Book Festival. In 2018 a Polish ski mountaineer clicked into his bindings at an altitude of 8,611m to make history. This film follows Andrzej Bargiel’s expedition as he attempts to ski the most dangerous mountain on earth; K2.

The adventure documentary film promises a visceral, up-close view of K2. The story beautifully captures stunning scenery, nail-biting adventure and a truly remarkable feat.

Festival Co-founder and Judge Jo Sedon says “It was a combination of a completely out-there adventure, pushing risk to the absolute limit, combined with good filming and great story-telling that blew our minds watching this film. It had you on the edge of your seat the whole way through!”.

The filmmakers donated their $1000 USD in prize money to Wings For Life, a not-for-profit spinal cord research foundation.

Newton Peak won the 2021 Grass Roots award. Director Nick Kowalski followed four Canterbury-based climbers into the heart of the Southern Alps to explore a rarely summited peak, hoping to climb a new route. Their journey takes them through the infamous ‘Garden of Eden’ ice plateau, across ‘The Great Unknown’ and through the thick, wild vegetation of the West Coast bush. Enduring extreme weather, navigating endless crevassed glaciers and visiting some of the most remote parts of New Zealand, this truly was a trip to remember.

The Best Climbing Film Award went to Director Nicolas Falquet, for Katherine’s Marathon. Katherine was the first Swiss climber to complete a 9A route (NZ grade 35) and she decided to repeat this performance in the Bernese Alps, with Jungfrau Marathon, a route with a radically different style. Kakapo Crest by Director Olivia Page follows four women who hike deep into remote Fiordland in search of a sabre-like peak. They battle through vertical scrub, gale-force storms and dangerously loose rock. This is a fun and challenging adventure caught on film. Director Emily Hopcian’s film Durga: Forging a New Trail will premier in NZ at the festival. This film is the story of Durga Rawal, the only guide of any gender from her village in northern Nepal. Durga’s story is about defying cultural, societal and familial expectations to pursue an independent life. It is a story of female empowerment and gender equality, featuring a brave young woman who is forging her own trail.

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