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DVD - The Race

a short film by Uli Wiesmeier

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The Race

DVD - The Race
$26.50


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The Race DVD

The Race is a short film fuelled by Uli Wiesmeier's fascination for the impenetrable rocky spires of the Italian Dolomites.

Uli is perhaps the most renowned image maker in free flying - his stills photography and videography have earned him respect worldwide. This, his newest project, is a study in technical genius.

The concept of the film is simple: a race between climber Stefan Glowacz and pilot Rob Whittall to the summit of Piz Pordoi in the Dolomites. But the film's qualities lie not in its plot but in its tempo, cinematography and in its conveying of the competitive ambition of two men as they both tackle unique challenges in their bids to scale a mountain.

The Race might have taken over two summers to complete, and Rob and Stefan may never speak to Uli again, but Uli has demonstrated that you must suffer for your art. The result: a technically brilliant film that hones right in on the emotions experienced by two flesh and bone, utterly fallible creatures taking on the mother of a mountain - and winning.

Length: 11 minutes
Awards: Grand Prix St. Hilaire 2003, 1st Prize International Mountain Film Festival, Tegernsee, Germany 2003, Grand Prize and Public Award, Free Flight Film Award, Garmisch, Germany 2004


The Race DVD

Review by Hugh Miller in Edition 94 of Cross Country Magazine

The film opens with a '50s cinematic feel. A lazy trumpet solo and wide sweeping shots of the grey pock-marked faces of Piz Pordoi convey the mountains' majestic appeal, while also revealing its harsh nature - high, and dry, barren, totally devoid of life as it is.

Far below, in the early morning, a climber cracks his finger knuckles, staring up at the summit with anticipation written all over his face. Rob Whittall plays the part of the cheeky, casual paraglider pilot well. Wearing an anonymous hiking rucksack and boots, he proposes the race to Stefan, shakes his hand, wipes off the chalk dust on his trousers before rushing off round the corner to set up his glider.

The ensuing race sees the tempo build with the increasing layers of tension and drama. Uli pulls out all the stops to get you right in amongst it, employing every point-of-view angle known to free flight - including helmet cams, leg cams, harness long shots that capture the pilot's speed, and even the 'ass cam' as first pioneered by Jimmy Hall and Stefanie Brendl. This is where the camera lens is mounted on a swivelling boom that rotates around the seat of the pilot to show the full panorama of his position. I remember Uli interrogating Jimmy and Stef on their invention at the Garmisch Free Flight expo a couple of years ago - his use of thumb screws on his fellow film makers obviously paid off!

All the while, the athletes' vulnerability to danger and exposure to the elements is at the forefront of your mind. A highlight is when a chunk of limestone cracks loose and Stefan is left dangling, screaming, from one hand, thousands of feet above the valley floor (my toes actually curled from the vertigo at this point). Robbie suffers an asymmetric collapse, just pulling out in time to avoid becoming people-paste on the cliff. Soon, Robbie overtakes his companion, and Stefan flinches like a frightened vole as the Raptor-like shadow of Rob's paraglider swoops over him.

Both summit at the same time, Stefan running the last steps as Rob's feet raise the dust as he top-lands. They share the moment of glory together, and you realise that their competition has not been against each other, but in overcoming the different natural challenges posed by Piz Pordoi.

The Race might have taken over two summers to complete, and Rob and Stefan may never speak to Uli again, but Uli has demonstrated that you must suffer for your art. The result: a technically brilliant film that hones right in on the emotions experienced by two flesh and bone, utterly fallible creatures taking on the mother of a mountain - and winning.

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