Director’s Letter

Director Stephen GrynbergSix years ago I had the idea of making a documentary about Ruedi Beglinger. I was living in Santa Monica, far from the snow-covered majesty of the Selkirk Mountains where I had first climbed with Ruedi ten years earlier and I was curious. I wanted to know how this renowned mountaineer was coping three years after a tragic avalanche killed a number of his guests.

I am interested in stories about people, about what makes them tick, about how they come to terms with the hurdles in life, and about how they transcend life’s challenges. It was that interest that brought me to Banff to meet with Ruedi and his wife, Nicoline, to talk about making a film. On a long hike we discussed my desire to capture the beauty of a life lived in pristine yet unforgiving mountains and the difficult process of opening one’s life to a camera. I don’t think they knew exactly why they agreed to do it but we trusted each other enough to get started three weeks later.

At that point, I didn’t know Ruedi very well. I had witnessed his incredible drive and his gifts as a mountain man, but I could only sense what lay buried beneath his sun-drenched skin. I wanted to better understand his connection to mountains, his relationship to fear and his dedication to the simple yet physical life that he lived. And I knew that I was also looking for answers to some deep questions I had about my own life.

Mountains have always held a paramount place for me. Growing up in Denver, mountains framed everything. From every rooftop or vantage point, the Rockies called out to be explored. At six, my father carted me up the hills of Winter Park for the first time and pushed me down. That was the start of a life long affair with mountains.

A Life Ascending honors that part of my life, and explores the complexities of that relationship. But to say this film is just about mountains would be missing the heart of it.

My father is a holocaust survivor who lost much of his family in World War II. That legacy was passed silently down to me and as a result, loss is in almost everything I write and create. A Life Ascending is no exception. The exploration of how a family comes to terms with heartbreaking loss was captivating and cathartic for me. That process was also profoundly elevating, as I was able to witness the power and grace of the human spirit as it transcends hardship and grief.

The journey of this film has been incredibly fun, challenging and rewarding and I am grateful to the talented and courageous people who were part of its creation. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy it and that it might just inspire you or touch you in some meaningful way.

Thank you for visiting us here. As we prepare to release our film on DVD on February 28th we would love it if you would tell your friends, like us in real life and like us on facebook, so we can spread the word and help us get the film seen far and wide.

Sincerely,

Stephen Grynberg

Director, A Life Ascending
2/7/12