London Film Festival 2012 – day one: The Summit
Friday 12th October, 8.30pm – Vue Leicester square
Monday 15th October, 3.15pm – Vue Leicester Square
Year after year, one category at the BFI London Film Festival regularly stands out amongst the others. The self-explanatory “Documentary Competition” holds nothing back this year as twelve very different films exploring issues from The Vatican (Silence In The House Of God), right the way to a village in the outer regions of Northern Greenland (Village At The End Of The World). Not one for bucking trend, this year’s selection promises to keep the competition for best documentary incredibly tight.
The Summit, directed and produced by the relatively unknown Nick Ryan, documents the 2008 expedition to reach the top of the worlds most dangerous mountain, K2. Twenty-two mountaineers from across the globe began the feat but only eleven made it down alive. Retold through archive footage, talking-head interviews and a few recreated scenes, Ryan attempts to investigate the event and discover what really happened after many accounts from the survivors seemingly contradicted each other in the weeks that followed.
Right from the very beginning, we are plunged into the deep end with a detailed look into the mechanics of scaling such a colossal mountain. A handful of mountaineers who undertook the task are introduced to us and asked to recount what they remember from that fateful day in August. One such man, Irishman Ger McDonnell (who eventually became the first Irishman ever to reach the summit of K2) becomes the main focus of the documentary as his extraordinary story is told and subsequently the tragic events that led to his death.
Viewers that are unfamiliar with the planning and organising that goes into such an expedition are brought right up to speed with a detailed but concise explanation told through the mountaineers that are interviewed. The Summit is a compelling watch but seems to leave more questions than answers, as ‘their story’ quickly became national news. As Ger’s family looked for answers, the conflicting accounts from each survivor brought more confusion rather than closure. The Summit sets the bar high for this year’s film festival and is a ‘one to watch’ for any lover of the documentary genre.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Tickets are available from the official BFI London Film Festival website.