A teenage director explores African peaks at Les Arcs Film Festival

A documentary film which is locally east African and locally eastern French is being shown at the Les Arcs European Film Festival. It received backing from local actors from the Les Arcs area and is to screen on local TV stations. It brings African heights and slopes to the doorstep of people living next to France’s Mont Blanc.

A grab from 'Niels et Juliette sur les épaules de l'Afrique'
A grab from 'Niels et Juliette sur les épaules de l'Afrique' Niels Dutrievoz

Nils and Juliette on the shoulders of Africa or Nils et Juliette sur les épaules de l’Afrique is a documentary film for TV which follows two teenagers, and local guides as they climb Mount Kenya in Kenya and Kilimanjaro and a volcano in Tanzania.

Climbing mountains is a feat to begin with. The 17 year-old European boy and 18 year-old girl set out on a great adventure. It documents their experiences, good and bad, in a straightforward way. Its animated maps allow the spectator over here to situate the action and adds an artistic hint. Nils doesn’t stop there. He also sings songs that he composed about Kilimanjaro.

Nils Dutrievoz has had such experiences with his father. They trekked to icy Greenland when he was just fifteen and his brother just eleven. But Nils goes further. To the challenge of the climbs he adds filming and directing the film.

Pierre Dutrievoz, Nils’ dad produced the film. He said: "I asked him Nils what was different for him between the Alps where he’s grown up and the highest peaks in Africa. He told me that up to 3,000 metres the vegetation is completely different, but after that, and when you reach the summit, it’s similar terrain. Then the feeling when you reach the summit is just the same."

The sameness is seen when Nils and his guide dance when they reach the top.

Nils and Juliette on the shoulders of Africa tells a story of curiosity and determination which leads two youngsters from the Alpine city of Grenoble to what is for them at the start another world.

At the end of the film, plants and people may look different, yet it’s just one world, the visitors and their guides are prey to sickness or other problems along the way, and also to an immense feeling of accomplishment.

Nils Dutrievoz says, "As we went down the top, I had a new sensation. Juliette and I had reached the three summits together. There’s no room for doubt, and you have to adapt all the time. At 17 you can have crazy dreams."

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