Italy, Belgium, France


THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS is the story of a friendship. Of children becoming men who try to erase the footprints of their fathers, but who, through the twists and turns they take, always end up returning home. Pietro is a boy from the city, Bruno is the last child of a forgotten mountain village. Over the years Bruno remains faithful to his mountain, while Pietro is the one who comes and goes. Their encounters introduce them to love and loss, reminding them of their origins, letting their destinies unfold, as Pietro and Bruno discover what it means to be true friends for life

Director's Statement

To be honest, we didn’t know that we would make this film entirely together. It all started with the idea of writing a version of the script, which Felix was already working on. We had done this for THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN and ever since had always wanted to work together again. When the first COVID lockdown came, we had been going through a stormy patch as a couple on a deep existential level and now the whole world was in crisis, but we sat down together and started to write. Somehow, we knew that adapting this incredibly pure story had the potential to bring us healing. And it did. This is a story about friendship, but we approached it as a love story. We are friends, lovers, partners and parents; we have a son together. Developing the film enabled us to explore our protagonists’ processes of growing up, finding friendship, losing it, cutting ties with family, reconnecting, finding forgiveness, accepting the other’s choices, facing death and surrendering to the nature of life. We wanted to make an epic film, told in tiny gestures. An ode to the fragility and strength of every single living being, be it a human being, an animal, a plant or a mountain. Without any cynicism. We explored how memories work. How seemingly small things that happen in your childhood can stay with you, you don’t even know why, and they grow in significance over the years. We were confined in our urban home during the pandemic and like so many other people locked down around the world, we experienced a great longing for the outdoors, for reconnection with the earth. Nature is a major theme in Paolo Cognetti’s book. While we were making the film it was beautiful to explore the romance and melancholy of nature, as well as its reality which can be ruthless and dangerous. We were very fortunate to have been able to wander around THE EIGHT MOUNTAINS, first in our imagination, later in Italy and then in Nepal. We started learning Italian, moved to the Italian Alps for eight months and later hiked up the Himalayas with an entire film crew. Being in the mountains means you have to confront yourself, it’s a merciless and honest environment. Why would you want to walk all the way up to the top? There is no reason and yet still we do it – only to walk back down again. In wonder. One day in the spring of 2020 we’d been working on our first draft for about four months and were very happy with the result. We were sitting around the kitchen table when Felix popped the question: will you direct with me? ... And we’re still here, walking up and down that mountain slope.

Director's Biography

born 11/11/1983 in Oudenaarde, Belgium, 168 cm
green eyes
Master of Dramatic Arts at Studio Herman Teirlinck, Antwerp 2001-2005 piano training 1992-2001
classical singing training 2005-2012 with Eurudike De Beul

Felix van Groeningen (born 1977) is a Belgian filmmaker. Van Groeningen was trained in audiovisual arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Ghent and graduated in 2000.
His films include THE MISFORTUNATES (2009) which premiered at the Directors Fortnight in Cannes, THE BROKEN CIRCLE BREAKDOWN (2012) which earned a César, an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language film as well as a European Film Awards for "European Actress", and BELGICA (2016) which won the World Cinema Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival. BEAUTIFUL BOY (2018) was van Groeningen’s first English language film.
His last film is THE EIGHT MOUNTAIN was co-directed with his partner Charlotte Vandermeersch and was selected for the 2022 Cannes Film Festival in Competition.
He lives and works in Belgium.

2018 - BEAUTIFUL BOY, Feature
2015 - BELGICA, Feature
2012 - ALABAMA MONROE, Feature
2007 - DAGEN ZONDER LIEF, Feature
2004 - STEVE + SKY, Feature

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

Written by: Felix van Groeningen, Charlotte Vandermeersch

Produced by: Mario Gianani, Lorenzo Gangarossa, Hans Everaert, Stéphane Parthenay, Massimiliano Orfei

Cinematography: Ruben Impens

Editing: Nico Leunen

Production Design: Massimiliano Nocente

Costume Design: Francesca Brunori

Make-Up & Hair: Francesca Tampieri

Original Score: Daniel Norgen

Sound: Alessandro Feletti, Andrea Caretti

Visual Effects: Rodolfo Migliari

Casting: Francesco Vedovati

Cast: Luca Marinelli (Pietro), Alessandro Borghi (Bruno), Elena Lietti (Francesca), Filippo Timi (Giovanni), Elisabetta Mazzullo (Lara), Cristiano Sassella (Young Bruno), Lupo Barbiero (Young Pietro 1)

Nominations and Awards

  • Feature Film Selection 2022