In The Mountains, director Christian Einshoj uses video to reflect on their family’s past in a narrative documentary. In doing so, Einshoj’s family provides a window into a personal story that many would refuse to tell. Beginning with the tragic death of Christian’s younger brother, Einshoj shares the ways that grief and family unity cause rifts in their relationships. By going through the footage of his last weeks with his younger brother, Einshoj continually discovers that it is through story, film and creativity that his family can begin to heal together.
Inspired by other personal documentary films, Einshoj spent years going through an immense amount of footage that he shot as a child. In the wake of several different dramas in his family’s personal lives such as divorce, unemployment and education angst, Einshoj recognizes the wounds that his family bears were never discussed and that family-wide emotional suppression has aided in their personal spirals.
While he may avoid looking into his own past, Einshoj’s personal voice and perspective finds more than enough story shared between him and his family to make this movie well worth watching. (In fact, as a filmmaker myself, it’s inspiring to see such an honest and deeply intimate story brought to a feature film.) Einshoj has stated that he hopes the film makes people feel nostalgic but in a way where they can see both the flaws and dysfunction of their past and still recognizing its beauty. Mountains is open in its conversations about mental health, masculinity and the dynamic (but, oftentimes, toxic) relationship between them. While it’s almost impossible for someone to truly bear their honest and full selves on camera, Einshoj has used his bond with his family and their unique relationship with film to explore that how much truth can be found through the unique voice of video.
The Mountains is currently screening at HotDocs ’23. For more information, click here.