BANFF OR BUST

Im really excited to announce that A Life Ascending has been accepted into the Banff Mountain Film Festival

Uncategorized on October 3rd, 2010 1 Comment

I got an email on wednesday telling me I was a pretty solid contender  and that I would know by the end of the month which was the next day.

I didnt sleep very well that night wondering what the email reallyl meant. First thing in the morning I called and they said, ” it looks good but they can’t say officially” More confusion. Trying to be more cryptic,  I asked if I should rejoice when I hung up or if I should wait.  She paused and said, rejoice.   On the hang up,   high fives and a hug with sarah in the office, a bunch of phone calls and a little dance session with the kids when I got home.   BANFF is a big deal for this little film for so many reasons.

Firstly it is “THE” mountain film festival in the world (sorry Telluride and Trento)  and also because it really is in many ways the birthplace of the film.  After I had the idea to make a film about Ruedi and his family, I phoned them and they said they would be open to discussing it. A week later I flew to Banff to meet them. They were attending the festival in 2006. We talked about the possibility of a film and after a few meals and some deliberations, Ruedi said, well I open the chalet in a couple weeks why dont you come back and film that.   Back in LA I scrambled, calling the sister in law of a friend who lived in the Banff/Canmore area who gave me  a list of Cinematographers.  Through that list I found Roger Vernon, this incredible DP who lives in Canmore.

Two weeks later he and I were up in the Selkirks shooting. I had no idea where it would go from there but I was on the road.  We shot enough snow shoveling that week to last a lifetime and to create a series of snow shoveling instructional videos (which we wont do) , but we also got some of the best interviews of the whole project and some really beautiful climbing and skiing stuff.  We were on our way.  Anyway, over the next couple of years,  and many trips back to Banff and the Selkirks, the film was made. There were so many folks from that areas who helped out technically, emotionally, with interviews and kindness and support.  For the film to come back up to their hood is incredibly exciting.    If you live around Banff or anywhere near or for that matter just want an excuse to come to an incredible festival, join us.  Or if you know anyone in the area ALA is playing the first weekend on HALLOWEEN DAY  1:20 in the Gigantic Eric Harie Theater.

I really hope to see you all there.

Stephen

Upcoming Festivals

Articles on August 30th, 2010 7 Comments
Catch us while you can!
Nordic Mountain Film Festival – Turtagrø, Norway – September 10-12
Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival – Sun Valley, Idaho – September 17-19
Big Bear Lake International Film Festival – Big Bear, CA – September 17-19
Bay Street Film Festival – Thunder Bay, Canada – September 30-October 3
BendFilm – Bend, Oregon – Friday, October 8th @1pm and Saturday, October 9th@ 12:30pm
Fort Lauderdale International Film Fest – Fort Lauderdale, FL – October 22-November 11
Southern Appalachian International Film Festival – Erwin, TN – October 27 – November 14
Ojai Film Festival – Ojai, CA – November 4-7

ESPN Freeskiing article about A Life Ascending

Articles on August 24th, 2010 3 Comments

By Megan Michelson

On January 20, 2003, seven people were killed in a class 3 avalanche on a peak called La Traviata near Selkirk Mountain Experience, a backcountry hut and guiding operation outside Revelstoke, BC. The guide that day was SME owner and lead guide, Ruedi Beglinger, a Switzerland native with the highest level of mountain guiding certification and decades of experience. Until that day in 2003, SME had never had a serious injury or death during its then 18 years in business.

Less than two weeks later a slide not far away, near Rogers Pass, BC, killed seven teens on a school trip, prompting British Columbia Premier Gordan Campbell to call for a comprehensive review of wilderness safety. Both accidents were covered extensively in the media, and a film called “Let It Ride” about pro snowboarder Craig Kelly, who died in the SME slide, went on to win best film at the 2007 X-Dance Film Festival.

Now, a new feature-length documentary called “A Life Ascending” about the life and family of guide Ruedi Beglinger has been released on the film festival circuit. It recently won the audience choice award at Colorado’s Docuwest Film Festival and it will be showing at various other festivals throughout the year and will be out on DVD by midwinter.

The film was created by Stephen Grynberg, a former chemical engineer and NBC television executive turned filmmaker (his previous work includes a movie called “Love from Ground Zero”). Grynberg grew up backcountry skiing in Colorado and has been a loyal client of Selkirk Mountain Experience since 1995. A few years after the avalanche, he approached Beglinger and his wife about making this film, and to his surprise, they agreed.

“At the time when they agreed to it, I’m not sure if they even knew why they said yes,” Grynberg said this week, calling from Santa Monica. “They had been pretty battered in the media after the avalanche. The fact that they knew me was essential. They wouldn’t have let someone in who didn’t know them. And maybe on some level they thought this may be cathartic for them.”

In December 2006, Grynberg and a local cinematographer joined Beglinger when he went to open their cabin for the winter. He and his family live in a tiny chalet at the base of the Durrand Glacier, deep in Canada’s Selkirk Mountains. Beglinger’s ski-touring operation has a license to 20,000 acres of glaciated, mountainous terrain, all of which is closed to helicopter skiing. The only way in or out — even during the summer, since no roads extend that far — is by helicopter. Grynberg traveled there several more times over the next two winters to shoot footage for his film.

“I was clear upfront that I wasn’t making a film about the avalanche, what happened or whose fault it was — that didn’t interest me at all,” Grynberg said. “I was interested in talking about this family’s unique life and how they were coming to terms with the accident. The other thing I wanted to convey is just what it’s like to do this sport and how transcendental it can be to be in a place that remote and big and sublime.”

When asked what Grynberg’s take was on how Beglinger and his family have dealt with the 2003 tragedy, he said, “The process of making this film brought up a lot of raw emotion that had not been visited for a long time. What was most clear to me in making this film is how incredibly strong this family is. There’s something about their life that is so clear and simple. I went in thinking I was making a film about Beglinger, but it ended up being about his family.”

Visit the ESPN Freeskiing article online and post it to Twitter and Facebook!

Article on ALA in Skiing Magazine

Articles on August 24th, 2010 1 Comment

When mountain guide Ruedi Beglinger faced an avalanche that claimed the lives of seven of his guests, his world was turned upside down. Award-winning documentarian Stephen Grynberg takes a look at his life and family in this feature-length film.

By Sally Francklyn

On January 20, 2003, a class three avalanche claimed the life of seven skiers and snowboarders. Six others, including their guide Ruedi Beglinger, survived. After an onslaught of media battering, Ruedi and his family surprisingly agreed to allow filmmaker Steven Grynberg to spend the winter with them to create a feature-length documentary. The result, A Life Ascending, follows Ruedi, his family, and their clients through a season at SME. As the family processes the tragedy they’ve experienced, their love for each other and their respect for the mountains around them is quite evident.

Ruedi Beglinger is one of the most renowned ski mountaineering guides on the planet. Growing up in the Swiss Alps, he explored his passion for climbing and mountaineering, and became an Internationally Certified Mountain Guide at the young age of 22. In 1980, Beglinger moved to the Selkirks in British Columbia to begin his career as a heli-ski guide.

In 1985, he applied for a permit to gain exclusive access to terrain three times the size of Whistler-Blackcomb. Consistent and reliable snowpack allowed Ruedi to build a helicopter-accessed lodge and start a business as a guide— Selkirk Mountain Experience (SME) was born. With the help of a staff, Ruedi’s wife and kids keep the operation running all winter long, while guests spend their days touring deep in the Selkirks with Ruedi. His lifetime of experience and an intuition regarding snow are known worldwide, and skiers come from around the globe to ski with him.

Ruedi’s life’s work is dedicated to the power and soul of the Selkirks, and although shaken by the avalanche, he and his family soldier on. The film, which has seen multiple awards and is touring the film fest circuit, will speak to anyone who understands the power of snow, loss, and love.

Read article on Skiing Magazine‘s website.

ALA wins two awards at Docuwest: The Audience Award and Best Medium Length Film

Uncategorized on July 23rd, 2010 1 Comment

It was an early morning email about a week after the festival that let us know that the final tally had been counted. Hanging chads

were not mentioned as the reason for the delay, but we didn’t complain.  It’s much better getting an email like that than a festival rejection (not that we’ve had any of those)

It certainly added to what was already a great festival experience in Colorado.

A Life Ascending had also won the best medium length film of the festival as voted on by the jury during the festival.

In the end  close to 350 people saw the film and it proved to be the real launch of the film into the world.  Lake Placid was a little less organized.

Our first Docuwest screening was held at the American Mountaineering Museum which was a nice

twist of fate.  I had some old friends come by and my kids were there to ask probing questions at the Q and A. (“Dad, how much did the movie cost?)

I particularly enjoyed the responses from people who don’t live in or travel in mountains. They seemed most

taken by the life of this family.

Stephen

DENVER POST: “…an oft-sublime meditation on loss, renewal, and risk.”

Uncategorized on July 15th, 2010 3 Comments
Denver Post

Denver Post
CinemaQ, DocuWest make for a reel pairing
By Lisa Kennedy, Denver Post Film Critic

6/25/2010

This weekend, niche film events continue to prove their mettle and broad appeal as the DocuWest Film Festival and the second annual CinemaQ Film Festival get to the marrow of their programs.
Both festivals have strong slates. Here are some films of note.

“A Life Ascending”: “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” says mountaineering guide Ruedi Beglinger about avalanches. And Stephen Grynberg’s film balances the glory of Canada’s wilderness with the dread of “when?” “A Life Ascending” is an oft-sublime meditation on loss, renewal, and risk. (At 5 p.m. Saturday, Grynberg will appear at Foothills Art Center.)

A Life Ascending descends on Docuwest next week

Uncategorized on June 15th, 2010 1 Comment

We will be in Colorado for Docuwest Film Festival on Thursday June 24th at 7 pm and Saturday June 26th at 5pm.    I will be there to do Q and A’s for both shows. The first show is being sponsered by the American Alpine Club and will be playing at The American Mountaineering Museum. If you are in the Denver – Golden – Boulder area come on by or if you know anyone who might want to see the film send them to the festival website to order tickets. ( We think both shows will sell out) The website will give you all the info you need to find the film.

A Life Ascending Premieres in Lake Placid

Articles on June 15th, 2010 1 Comment

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Lake Placid was a perfect start to the festival run of A Life Ascending. Last Thursday, the film opened the festival at the Palace Theater, a beautiful old building on the main drag.  Thanks to some angels in the local climbing community (namely Brian Delaney of High Peaks Cyclery/Mountain Guides) we had a great house of both film and mountain lovers.

A Q & A was led by Kathleen Carroll, festival co-artistic director and former film critic of the New York Daily News.  Folks seemed to really love the film…  We met a bunch of great people who were moved by the story. Our post film conversations flowed out onto the street and into a couple of bars ending in a late night haunt overlooking the outdoor oval where Eric Heiden won some gold medals back in the 80 Olympics.

After our film, the festival was of course all down hill as they featured a number of guests included Parkey Posey, Hal Holbrook, Russel Banks, Courtney Hunt, Jason Kliot, and Debra Granik among others.   The other highlight was a canoe trip on Lake Placid, thanks to Brian.  Hope to make it back with the kids……

Moving Pictures Magazine Featured Article

Articles on March 10th, 2010 5 Comments

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Profound Truths in the Making of ‘Mountain Man’ (working title)

by Stephen Grynberg

MM_hero1I was born in Denver at the base of the Rocky Mountains. My mom was a city girl from Philly; my dad, a Polish immigrant. He was also a skier, and, when I was five, he dragged me up a mountain and pushed me down it. That’s how things were done in my house. Eventually I came to love skiing – around the time I got my driver’s license and the mountains became an escape. The ultimate freedom of backcountry skiing soon beckoned. Attaching synthetic “skins” to the bottom of skis for traction, one can climb to the summit of snow-covered mountains far from the noise and grind of a ski area. At the top, with fields of untouched snow beneath, the skins come off and you throw yourself down. Pure bliss. Read more »

Ron Consentino

slideshow on February 26th, 2010 Comments Off