A film by Robert Schabus
Director, Script, Editing: Robert Schabus
Assistant Director: Marie-Therese Vollmer
Cinematography: Lukas Gnaiger
Sound: Bertram Knappitsch
Dramaturgical advice: Wolfgang Widerhofer
Sound Design and Mixing: Andreas Frei
Grading: Lukas Lerperger
Music: Lukas Lauermann
Production Manager: Antonia Bernkopf
Executive Producer: Michael Kitzberger
Producers: Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer, Markus Glaser, Nikolaus Geyrhalter
Production: NGF - Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion GmbH
The now threatened territory of the Alps stretches across eight countries. Robert Schabus spoke with people in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France and Italy, visited small farms and noble winter sports resorts, saw snow machines and a tragic fall into the depths. The result is a picture of our society in a space that requires special attention due to its topography.
In Zermatt, Switzerland, "shrouds" are spread out. Huge white sheets clinging to the celebrity for whom countless holidaymakers travel to the affluent municipality every year: the Matterhorn, one of the highest mountains in the Alps. Its glaciers are melting, the spreading material is meant to keep the sun from devouring more of them - and possibly depriving the region of a great and lucrative attraction. In Robert Schabus' ALPENLAND, economy and ecology often intertwine. The high mountains, whose face has changed ever more rapidly and drastically in recent decades, stretch across eight countries, a fact captured by cameraman Lukas Gnaiger in imposing, unmasking shots. In the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, former forester Axel Doering reports on the incursions into nature and presents a small photo series that impressively demonstrates how profound and self-evident the modelling by man has become. Here, in the immediate vicinity of the Zugspitze, snow machines also spew their artificial splendour to keep the skiing business going. They are trying to buy back the winter, says Doering, and calculates that each of these machines has the equivalent value of a social housing flat. Garmisch-Partenkirchen has parted with the latter. Real estate agent Nicole Mojr perhaps knows a reason for this: for a place with a view of the mountain massif, ten thousand euros per square metre can be demanded.
The Pacher family on their farm in Carinthia, Austria, feels nothing of the booming business with concrete gold. The work is hard and relentless in its daily recurrence. "If the farm wants to exist, the work simply has to be done," says Maria Pacher. And this work is risky. One of the very first scenes of ALPENLAND demonstrates that life in the mountains can be dangerous: As father and daughter lead a herd of cows over the narrow paths of a slope, an animal slips and falls into the depths. An image with symbolic character that still resonates when you have already arrived in Premana in Lombardy, where Schabus tells the story of closely networked small manufactories. Or in Méribel, France, where a doctor is running out of patients because the winter sports season has been reduced to a few months due to the rising temperatures in the area. As different as the people in ALPENLAND are, they express similar views on the uncertain future. Julia Auernig, who is soon to take over the farming and alpine pasture management from her father Josef, at least tries a timid but equally helpless optimism: "We'll manage somehow. Somehow it will work out."
Text by Carolin Weidner, Diagonale 2022