A 2022, 88 min.


A film about one of the most spectacular landscapes at the heart of Europe and about the people who live there, who have a very special bond with their habitat despite the tough conditions they often face.


The Alps are not only a spectacular landscape at the heart of Europe, but also home to 13 million people in eight countries. The numerous languages and dialects spoken here and the various ways of living reflect the cultural diversity of this unique region. In his feature documentary ALPENLAND, Robert Schabus paints an insightful and sympathetic portrait of this region, travelling to meet a family of mountain farmers in Austria, visiting a small manufacturing company in the village of Premana in Italy and going to famous skiing resorts like Méribel in France or Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany. The idyll is bearing the seeds of its own ruin: tourism creates jobs and destroys nature, the traffic cuts through Alpine valleys and the impact of climate change is unmistakable in the Alps. At the same time, there are people for whom defying the harsh vagaries of nature is a centuries-old tradition and they are not willing to abandon their homes.

ALPENLAND is the story of people caught between the two opposite poles of economy and ecology, and who have a deep bond with their living environments despite these difficult conditions.


JOSEF PACHER, Farmer (Mölltal – Carinthia, Austria)

I can do this, because I've only got a few years left. But I wouldn't recommend it to a young person. The alternative would be to give up. It'd probably be a good idea. As sad as that is. The work here is more dangerous than in the valley. But I still prefer being a mountain farmer to being a farmer down in the valley

JULIA AUERNIG, Student (Mölltal – Carinthia, Austria)

Well, I'll have to take over the farm, because I'm an only child. I'd like to keep it going, I don't want it all to fall apart. I'd like to make sure that alpine farming survives. But it wouldn't make sense the way things are now. I do feel under pressure a bit. But as my dad always puts it: we'll manage somehow. It'll work out somehow.

MARIA PACHER, Farmer (Mölltal – Carinthia, Austria)

I was born here. Mother was picking potatoes that day and in the evening, she gave birth to me.

AXEL DOERING, Retired forester, Cipra (Garmisch-Partenkirchen – Bavaria, Germany)

The Alps are just so fascinating. What you find in the Alps can't be found anywhere else. But it's just the remains now. I moved here in the 1970s. Back then, the average yearly temperature was 6.8 degrees. Today it's 8.2 degrees. So, from a climate perspective, this ski resort is now 300 metres lower than back then. No one ever went skiing at an altitude of 400 metres. So, they're trying to keep this going artificially by spending lots of money and interfering with the landscape and the soil.
You can make a rough calculation: One social housing unit pays for a snow cannon.

NICOLE MOJR, Immobilienmaklerin (Garmisch-Partenkirchen – Bavaria, Germany)

Not many people here have such a nice view of the mountains. And that is also reflected in the price. Due to the current economic situation, people are more skeptical about the stock market. So, they prefer to invest in real estate. In "concrete gold", that is.

FAUSTO RIZZI, Knife manufacturer (Premana – Lombardy, Italy)

The people who take up traditional professions, like making knives and scissors, have a deep connection to the village. This connection between family and work is the reason why many of us stay. It's only a village, but it's where I was born and grew up, where I have my friends, the mountains, the rivers, where I have my relatives and family, my work, my school. So it's nothing, but everything to me. I'll fight till the end to be able to stay here.

PIETRO RIZZI, Knife manufacturer (Premana – Lombardy, Italy)

If it wasn't for the jobs here in Premana, there'd probably be hardly anyone living here.

DAVIDE RIZZI, Knife manufacturer (Premana – Lombardy, Italy)

An important aspect here is the community. Despite the competition, there is a sense of solidarity between the companies. For almost all technical problems we might have in our company, we find the solution here in our village. So, although the company is small and is located in a remote village, we have a lot of options close at hand. This might not be so easy to find in Milan. Let's put it this way: we like the balance we've got here.

BERNADETTE VABRE, Medical assistant (Méribel – Trois Vallées, France)

It's important to have a family physician, who knows you from childhood and accompanies you throughout adulthood. But that won't happen anymore in the future. And I think it's a pity. Here in Méribel, we know that we won't be able to find a doctor who would have a surgery every day like we do. So I think the practice will close.

THIERRY VABRE, Physician (Méribel – Trois Vallées, France)

No hotels also mean no seasonal workers. The seasonal workers are patients for the doctor. They're customers for the supermarkets. They're skiers for the ski lifts. And then there's climate change. Skiing might only be possible two months a year, instead of four. What do you live on if you only have work for two months?

MARTA FOSSATI, Farmer (Valle Stura – Piemont, Italy)

What I like about my work is that we're involved in every single step of the process. I'm proud of being a producer.
The appearance of the wolves coincided with an enormous decline in prices for our products. There's also been a constant population decline. During certain periods, there are more people here. But then there are so many months when no one is around. This lack of social network, and also the solitude, it can be quite hard to live like that. I saw a lot of people my age trying to make a living here, full of enthusiasm and with good ideas. But they'd be gone after a few years, because it was too tough. In my view, life in the mountains was just too hard on them.

ADRIANO FOSSATI, Farmer (Valle Stura – Piemont, Italy)

Now nature is reclaiming the land. There's scrubland everywhere. The area where I used to graze my cows and cut hay ten years ago, is now full of blackberry bushes and shrubs. It's basically smothering us and it's our own fault: Everyone left because they couldn't make a living here anymore.
I haven't always been a shepherd and farmer. What I want to make clear is: I prefer a lousy income with my sheep than a good income in a factory. Life is not only about money. It's also about satisfaction. Life is short. It's a passage. Be at peace with yourself and the world.

RICARDO FERREIRA, Lift attendant (Zermatt – Wallis, Switzerland)

I'm Portuguese, when I came here, there were about 300 Portuguese people. Now there are about 2,000. Zermatt needs the Portuguese. And Zermatt wouldn't be doing so well without the Portuguese. When I came to Zermatt and started at this company, the glacier stretched almost to here. Today, the glacier has retreated almost 700 metres. We're covering the glacier because of the temperature and hope that we can at least save the upper part here.

SALOMÉ AZEVEDO, Service employee in bakery (Zermatt – Wallis, Switzerland)

There are Portuguese people working in the town administration, in grocery stores, in offices, in the mountain cable car company, in bakeries... Everywhere. Literally everywhere. And if they all disappeared just one day, you would notice it. People like us, who have a normal income, can't afford a flat in Zermatt. We work a lot. My husband works on a building site and I work in a bakery. But these aren't dream jobs for either of us. I want my children to be able to say one day, "I have my dream job."



Director, Script, Editing: Robert Schabus
Assistant Director: Marie-Therese Vollmer
Cinematography: Lukas Gnaiger
Sound: Bertram Knappitsch
Dramaturgical advice: Wolfgang Widerhofer
Sound Design and Mixing: Andreas Frei
Grading: Lukas Lerperger
Music: Lukas Lauermann

Production Manager: Antonia Bernkopf
Executive Producer: Michael Kitzberger
Producers: Michael Kitzberger, Wolfgang Widerhofer, Markus Glaser, Nikolaus Geyrhalter

Production: NGF - Nikolaus Geyrhalter Filmproduktion GmbH

With support of: Österreichisches Filminstitut, ORF Film/Fernsehabkommen, Filmstandort Austria, Filmfonds Wien, Bayerischer Rundfunk, Land Kärnten Kultur / Carinthia Film Commission

Music for the film trailer: Lukas Lauermann, "finite distinct" taken from the album "I N", (c) + (p) col legno Music GmbH, 2020;



I feel privileged to have grown up in an Alpine region. I had an exciting childhood on a farm, despite all the difficulties and social constraints. It’s a very powerful landscape, which demands a very particular approach geared to its unique characteristics. But a lot has changed behind this romantic and glorified backdrop, and the question of where these developments are going seems to be more pressing than ever before.

One of the protagonists in ALPENLAND says: “What you can find in the Alps can no longer be found anywhere else. But it’s just the remains now.” And the leading expert on Alpine research, Werner Bätzing comments: “The existential problems caused by developments in the Alpine regions are not exclusive to the Alps. It’s just that due to their topology, these regions reveal the core problems of our modern society sooner, more explicitly and more dramatically than other regions in Europe. The Alps are like a magnifying glass, through which we can observe our society today.”

The documentary ALPENLAND focuses on the very personal experiences and circumstances of individuals and families in the Alpine regions. Over a number of years, I got very close to these people and was deeply touched by these encounters. Their strong ties to their homes, to the landscape and also to their works seem to belong to another era. It’s the other side of the coin, contrasting with the glorifying images of the tourism industry, which itself is just one part of the machinery leading to increasing population density and soaring housing prices in some Alpine towns. At the same time, villages with similarly fantastic panoramic views are shrinking and with them, infrastructure, jobs and social life.

A fundamental balance has been disturbed. In a number of places, the local population is under more and more pressure, faced with decisions and developments that are completely out of sync with their needs. There are, however, villages and towns where the balance is still more or less in good order.

These personal stories of goatherds and bladesmiths in Italy, migrant tourist workers in Switzerland, a doctor’s surgery in France, a forest ranger in Germany, and a family of mountain farmers in Austria are just a fraction of all the possible stories in the Alps.

And at the same time, they already tell all that can be told.