Piano to Zanskar wins Grand Prize in the 2019 Banff Mountain Film Competition

BANFF, AB, November 3, 2019 – Facing his future in retirement, “sitting in deck chairs and eating lemon drizzle cake”, 65-year-old piano tuner, Desmond O'Keeffe, decides instead to take on the most challenging and perilous delivery of his four decade career: transporting a 100-year-old, 80-kilogram, upright piano, from bustling London to the remote heart of the Indian Himalayas.  

Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival is thrilled to announce Piano to Zanskar as winner of the Grand Prize in the 2019 Banff Mountain Film Competition.

"This film unites a set of lovely characters so individual and multi-faceted, even a seasoned Hollywood-screenwriter would have a hard time coming up with them," said Joachim Hellinger, a member of the 2019 Film jury. "It takes us on a quest that seems to be crazy and anachronistic but is actually full of purpose and symbolic power. Watching this film helps to restore the belief in a better world. Our hearts warmed as we joined Harold, Desmond, and Anna on their journey schlepping a piano in pieces along dusty roads and across steep slopes into a remote village high up in the Himalayan mountains. When 65-year old piano tuner Desmond reassembles the instrument, it becomes the highest piano in the world and everybody is united by the magic of music. Cultural boundaries vanish and a crazy dream becomes real. This is a passion project of emerging filmmakers. It is enchanting, it is a feel-good movie and it is the account of a real adventure." 
The 2019 Film Competition jury members are Billy Choi (South Korea, programmer for Ulju Mountain Film Festival), Joachim Hellinger (Germany, co-founder and managing partner of Moving Adventures Medien), Lynn Robinson (UK, president of the British Mountaineering Council), and Niobe Thompson (Canada, filmmaker and anthropologist).

Category winners for the 2019 Banff Mountain Film Competition are:
Grand Prize
$4000 – Sponsored by MEC
Piano to Zanskar     
(UK, 2018, 86 min)
Director: Michal Sulima    
Producer: Jarek Kotomski

Creative Excellence Award
$2000 – Sponsored by Trangia
Camel Finds Water    
(USA, 2019, 8 min)       
Director: Ian Durkin    
Producers: Ian Durkin, Trevor Gordon    
Best Film: Exploration and Adventure
$2000 – Sponsored by Devold
(Canada, 2019, 91 min)       
Director: Jen Randall
Producers: Jen Randall, Sarah Outen

Best Film: Mountain Culture
$2000 – Sponsored by Helly Hansen
Holy Tour    
(France, 2018, 70 min)        
Directors: Valery Rosier, Meryl Fortunat-Rossi    
Producer: Benoit Roland    

Best Film: Climbing
$2000 – Sponsored by The Alpine Club of Canada
The Last Mountain    
(Poland, 2019, 83 min)    
Director: Dariusz Zaluski    
Producer: Narodowe Centrum Kultury
Best Film: Mountain Sports
$2000 – Sponsored by Rumble Supershake
(Germany, 2018, 22 min)    
Directors: Christian Schmidt, Antoine Girad    
Producer: Luz Marina Gennes
Best Film: Snow Sports
$2000 – Sponsored by Park Distillery
The Ridge of Dreams    
(USA, 2019, 24 min)       
Directors: Ben Sturgulewski, Zack Giffin    
Producer: Scott Ballew  

Best Film: Mountain Environment and Natural History
$2000 – Sponsored by Kupilka
(USA, 2019, 90 min)        
Director: Josh Murphy    
Producer: Laura Wagner

Best Mountain Short
$2000 – Sponsored by Sherpa Adventure Gear
Speak To Me Softly    
(Canada, 2019, 6 min)    
Director: Henna Taylor    
Producer: Matthew Hood    

Best Mountain Feature
$2000 – Sponsored by The North Face Banff (owned and operated by Highline Outdoors)
Into the Canyon     
(USA, 2019, 84 min)    
Director: Peter McBride
Producer: Amanda Pollak    

Special Jury Mentions:

Out on A Limb    
(Canada, 2019, 21 min)        
Director: Jordan Manley    
Producer: Diana Brucculieri                 

The River and the Wall    
(USA, 2019, 99 min)        
Director: Ben Masters
Producer: Hillary Pierce    

People’s Choice Award
$2000 – Sponsored by Osprey
The Trilogy
(USA, 2019, 31 min)
Director: Tommy Joyce
Producer: Sasha DiGiulian

What a Festival! 2019 was a record breaking year and an attendance of over 23,500 over nine epic days! The World Tour now hits the road immediately following the Festival, bringing Banff to audiences in over 40 countries, with 1100 screenings annually around the globe.

Mark your calendar for next year – October 31 to November 8, 2020 – to celebrate 45 years of Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival!

For more information, please contact:

Jess Green
Media and Communications
Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival
107 Tunnel Mountain Drive
Banff, Alberta
T1L 1H5 

About Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival: Created 44 years ago, Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival has become the premier event of its kind in the world. The nine-day Festival at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Canada, showcases the world’s best films, books and photographs on mountain subjects – climbing, culture, environment and natural history, exploration and adventure, wildlife, and sport – and attracts the biggest names in mountaineering, adventure filmmaking, and explorers as presenters and speakers. An international jury will also award over $40,000 in prizes for films and books submitted to this year’s Festival competitions. banffmountainfestival.ca

Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival Partners: The 2019 Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival Presenting Partners are: Rab and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism. The Festival is also sponsored by Deuter, Clif Bar & Company, Mountain House, Oboz Footwear, Yeti, BUFF®, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Kathmandu, Smartwool, NOLS, World Expeditions, Kicking Horse Coffee, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Summer Gondola, and MEC.

About Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity: Founded in 1933, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is a learning organization built upon an extraordinary legacy of excellence in artistic and creative development. What started as a single course in drama has grown to become the global organization leading in arts, culture, and creativity across dozens of disciplines. From our home on Treaty 7 territory in the stunning Canadian Rocky Mountains, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity aims to inspire everyone who attends our campus – artists, leaders, and thinkers – to unleash their creative potential and realize their unique contribution to society through cross-disciplinary learning opportunities, world-class performances, and public outreach. banffcentre.ca