The mountaineering drama of Spanish filmmaker Ibon Cormenzana Beyond the summit (La Cima) makes its world premiere in competition at the Malaga Film Festival this week. It is also one of three special “market premieres” of the festival’s Spanish screenings industry event, as sales agent Filmax presents the feature film to international buyers.
Beyond the summit stars Javier Rey as a man determined to climb Annapurna, one of the tallest and deadliest peaks in the world. Once in the Himalayas, he meets another mountaineer, played by Patricia López Arnaiz, battling her own demons.
Cormenzana directed and produced the film through his Barcelona-based company Arcadia Motion Pictures, whose credits include two titles by Pablo Berger, Blancanieves and Robot dreamsby Rodrigo Sorogoyen Mother and the next The beasts and Celia Rico Journey to a Mother’s Room. It is a co-production with Lazona Producciones, Aixerrota Films, Dorothy Films and Noodles Production in France.
Cormenzana himself is a recent convert to mountaineering himself, inspired by professional sky runner Kilian Jornet who specializes in running on mountain ranges. His way of life fascinated the filmmaker.
“I felt I had to tell the world the way these people understand life,” Comenzana explains. “It’s something that goes beyond mountaineering, much more than a physical challenge. I also return to a recurring theme of mine, namely how to manage a traumatic past and how to reconnect with life.
The production of Beyond the summit had many challenges to overcome. The big one was when Cormenzana, cinematographer Albert Pascual and the crew were forced to rethink the entire production to shoot in the Basque Pyrenees when Covid restrictions made travel to Nepal impossible. Filming included several days of filming in snowstorms, in temperatures that dropped 17 degrees Celsius below zero.
Combining production and directing is a skill Cormenzana learned from his collaborations with Pablo Berger, Claudia Llosa, Celia Rico, Mateo Gil and Rodrigo Sorogoyen. Before, he says, the producer in him trumped the director.
“When directing, until now, the producer side of me tended to take over, unlike when you’re working with another filmmaker, which is when [as producer] you naturally fight for the best in terms of achievement,” he reveals. “This time I was able to focus more on directing and I kept asking for more rather than clipping my wings. Of course directors and producers want the best for a movie. , but they may have different perspectives and should make an effort to agree.