Berlin-based sales agent Rise and Shine has acquired worldwide rights (except Austria) for Austrian director Bernhard Braunstein’s feature documentary “Stams.” The film will have its world premiere as part of Berlinale’s Panorama strand in February. The deal was negotiated between Panama Film producers Lixi Frank and David Bohun, Rise and Shine world sales CEO Stefan Kloos and Peter Jaeger as sales/distribution consultant from Jaeger Creative.

In the film, Braunstein takes a look behind the scenes of Stams, one of the most successful – and elite – ski boarding schools in the world, located in the Alps. The students go there to follow their dreams, but are all too aware that only 2% of them will make it to the top.

Braunstein meticulously shows the timed daily routine of extreme physical training, not-so-ordinary school classes, sparse free time, and everyday boarding-school life. How do these young people deal with the constant pressure to perform, the high risk of injury, and the power relationships within the sport? And what does it mean to go all-in on a sports career at a young age?

Braunstein comments: “I believe ‘Stams’ can open up a space of experiences that moves us. The audience lives through the hopes and fights, the rigor and consistency the students bring for their burning dream. How they grow and fail, get injured and yet do not give up hope. I developed great empathy for them, their silent suffering touched me deeply and the collegiality and friendship I experienced among them was surprising. With ‘Stams,’ we want to question the harsh system based mainly on performance these people find themselves in, a system which is also spreading in many other areas of society and hardly reflects on itself.”

“Stams” is Braunstein’s second feature-length documentary, his debut “Atelier de Conversation” opened Cinéma du Réel in Paris in 2017, before winning the Special Jury Award at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival and the Arte Documentary Award at the Duisburg Film Week later that year.

“This is not your typical sports film, but an awesome experience for everybody who has a heart for sports,” Rise and Shine CEO Stefan Kloos comments. “‘Stams’ doesn’t portray the rise and fall of one single hero, but rather focuses on the empathetic collective. The rigorous routines, the risk of injuries, the love for sports all have an effect on them. And Bernhard did an amazing job in letting us be part of the world of his protagonists, full of ups and downs, which is, despite the unique setting, very similar to so many young people.”

“Stams” is produced by Lixi Frank and David Bohun for Panama Film in Vienna, whose previous films include Sandra Wollner’s 2020 Berlinale Encounters’ Special Jury Award winning title “The Trouble With Being Born” and “Movements by a Nearby Mountain” by Sebastian Brameshuber, which won the Grand Prix at Cinéma du Reel 2019. The film is supported by the Austrian Film Institute (ÖFI), ORF Film and Television Agreement, Film Industry Support Austria (FISA), Land Salzburg, Cine Tirol, Stadt Salzburg and the FISA Comeback Grant for Film and TV Productions.