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Prize of the Jury awarded in Graz!

It was 3am last Thursday morning that the '22nd Graz Mountain and Adventure Film Festival' office in Graz called me with confirmation of my flight to Austria for the weekend. On Friday I set out to Melbourne, handed over my dog Tigon to my brother Jon to look after and went to the airport.

On Saturday in a bit of a daze I found myself barelling along the freeway between Vienna and Graz admiring the fading Autumn colours and the clear cold sky.

We had only just arrived in Graz - this small, picturesque city in the south-east of the country- when I met with Robert Schauer, the festival director. At 22 years of age in 1978, he had become the first Austrian to climb mount Everest and founded the festival as a forum for those with an adventurous spirit to meet and share experiences. Now in its 22nd year, the Graz Adventure and Mountain Film Festival has become the largest of its kind in German-speaking Europe and one of the most prestigious for adventure films world wide.

After some preparations for the award ceremony, I had about 20 minutes to shower at the hotel, then found myself packed in with hundreds of others watching Robert present the awards.

The festival included awards in various categories- for example, adventure, expedition, rock climbing, culture, mountain. Then there was the Prize of he Jury, and The Grand Prize.

I sat through all the category awards until there were just two remaining- the Prize of the Jury, and the Grand Prize. The three jury members soon read out the awardee for the prize of the jury: 'On the Trail of Genghis Khan.'

Thinking back more than six years ago when I set out by horse with my camera, it was an amazing feeling to have come to this point. So much had happened, and for me it was particularly poignant: the 16th of Nov, only three days later would be the anniversary of my fathers death. With his background in the outdoors it was an occasion that he would have surely savoured.

After the presentation I went to an auditorium where episode two (The Land that God Forgot) was played in front of a full house with people even sitting in the aisles. At the end, the clapping seemed to never end, and I had a chance to speak about the making of the journey. As a surprise, we were also able to connect by Skype to Australia, where my brother Jon was able to hold up the real star of the show in front of the crowd: Tigon.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in the three trips that the 'trail of Genghis Khan' has involved: the journey itself, the filming of the journey, and the journey of making the film afterwards. Each has been a challenging adventure in its own right.

As mentioned previously, the Australian Version of the series is currently available for order on DVD from my website, along with Off the Rails (which, coincidentally won best adventure film at Graz in 2002). I will try to make the European version in English, french, and german available as soon as possible.

Best Regards,

Tim Cope