Falling for the Mountain is the intimate and urgent story of a family that must come together to care for their ancestral home in the majestic Swiss Alps in the face of urbanization and changes in climate. Today, most of the family live in cities, yet all have deep ties to this bucolic terrain. Now the next generation is coming to terms with the needs of the land and the ancient buildings housed there. Never before has this family’s stewardship been more sorely tested.
This is not just the story of one family’s dilemma but the story of an environmental crisis that is occurring all over Europe as contemporary lifestyles and technology affect alpine regions. What can be done to preserve this precious resource for everyone? There is not one answer. In Falling for the Mountain we meet, among others, the farmer who has one point of view, and the brother who thinks quite differently. Each must find a way to engage with the great turning from patriarchal ways of management towards a more cooperative guardianship of nature. What needs to change in order for tending and caring to become the way they connect with one another and the earth? And what about the life of the soil and the soul?
When I started shooting in a disciplined manner, I felt the unencumbered situation on the mountain a good place to witness the impact of human interaction on land. I stayed close to what I was working on, my family became the human family we are all apart of.
Over the years my motivation to persist was fueled by my connection to young people. I wanted to make a film that would become a conversation starter about our place in nature and make a bridge from the cell phone to the scent and barks of the natural world.
The camera turned out to be my driving tool into deeper consciousness. Our alpine land became a vast, generous body, offering itself up to us in its abundance, with water, trees and animals, mosses, mushrooms and lichen, berries and rocks, my own neurons made of soil, the weather and the stars!
Tales from the field
When we were shooting the Blacken segment, we collected big bags full of these plants. But now, where to go with it? Our farmer Franz suggested we dump the contents in the little adjacent forest with not much light. We dumped the bags on the forest floor, formed a mound and covered it tightly with a large sheet of dark plastic. Our friend and helper made a cross, you can see it in the film. On it she wrote: Blackum restum at eternum.
The following year when we returned in the summer and met up with the farmer, he said: "You know the police called me. Hikers had notified them, because they saw a tomb in the forest and thought it was a burial place for a person."