2019 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival: ‘Accidental Climber’
Accidental Climber focuses on the story of Jim Geiger, a retired forest ranger and amateur mountaineer from Sacramento, CA who at 68 years old attempts to become the oldest American and first great-grandfather to summit Mt. Everest. Today, we’re highlighting it as one of the great documentaries in advance of its Australian premiere at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Accidental Climber follows Jim as he embarks on a transformative journey from a weekend hiker to attempting one of the most extreme and physically demanding climbs known to man.
Driven by a desire to prove that age is just a number, Jim pushed his body to the limit in a quest to summit the world’s tallest mountain. Instead of completing the challenge, he witnessed one of the worst disasters in mountaineering history that left sixteen climbers dead in a tragic avalanche and forever changed Jim’s life.
This inspirational movie has already cleaned up on the festival circuit. Accidental Climber premiered at Napa Valley and has made appearances at Manchester International Film Festival, San Luis Obispo International Film Festival, and other international festivals.
Steven Oritt is an award-winning filmmaker who began his career directing music videos & commercials and moved into documentaries with his feature-length debut American Native.
Oritt then launched James Lucy Productions, which is currently developing an episodic series for AMC Networks about a notorious crime family from El Paso, Texas whose quest for the American Dream fueled a 1970s drug empire. He’s also completing his feature film debut, My Name is Sara.
Where did you get the idea for Accidental Climber?
I was introduced to the subject of the film, Jim Geiger, by a mutual friend about a year before his Everest climb and thought he and his endeavor would make for a compelling documentary.
When did you begin production on Accidental Climber?
Why is it important that Accidental Climber’s story is told now?
Mt. Everest as a media subject always has and always will be in the public zeitgeist. It captivates the attention of people from all backgrounds and all walks of life. Recently there has been much publicized about the “overcommercialization” of Everest and the effects it has on the environment, and most notably the welfare of the climbers and Sherpas who try to ascend its peak.
Our film pulls the curtain back on the climbing culture surrounding Everest and examines this phenomenon through the eyes of Jim Geiger, a weekend hiker who attempts one of the most extreme and physically demanding feats known to man.
What’s your experience of the indie film scene in Australia at the moment?
Australia has a rich history of climbers, and we look forward to sharing the film with audiences in Melbourne who are not only passionate about climbing but drawn to Jim as a character: an ordinary man pursuing an extraordinary feat.
What’s your next project?
I recently completed my first narrative feature, My Name is Sara, which is based on the true story of Sara Goralnik, a 13-year-old Polish Jew whose entire family was killed by Nazis in September of 1942.
After a grueling escape to the Ukrainian countryside, Sara steals her Christian best friend’s identity and finds refuge in a small village where she is taken in by a farmer and his young wife. She soon discovers the dark secrets of her employers’ marriage, compounding the greatest secret she must strive to protect, her true identity.
Where can our readers see Accidental Climber?
Accidental Climber is in the midst of its festival run and will next be playing at DOCUTAH in September. We are currently talking to buyers and expect to have news of where film will be distributed in the coming month.
Catch the movie at MDFF on Saturday July 27th at Cinema Nova. Buy tickets here.