The Arhuacos are the guardians of the forest and the ice of Colombias highest mountain. While on the surface this ancient culture appears not to have changed in centuries, Thinking Like a Mountain reveals a much more complex reality.


The Arhuacos are the guardians of the forest and the ice of Colombias highest mountain- the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. They draw from this unique environment a sustained and singular spirituality. For the first time in their history the Arhuacos invited a filmmaker, Alexander Hick, to visit the most remote communities and sacred sites in the heartland of their territory. „Thinking like a Mountain“ tells the story of resistance and preservation of nature, which is a voyage through space and time: from the shores of the Caribbean to the stars that light up the night on the glacier; from the Arhuacos encounter with the first colonising whites, to the homecoming of an Arhuaco guerrillero following the laying-down of arms by the FARC.  

While on the surface the Arhuaco culture appears not to have changed in centuries, this film reveals quite the opposite. The cosmogony specific to this territory and its people has been preserved due to the self imposed isolationism of the Arhuacos, but a solemn history of violence is progressively drawn out through the film brought on by the changing political and spiritual landscape. In a thought provoking and pointed manner the film explores the colliding of two cultures and portraits indigenous life in the 21th century where isolationism seems to vanish, just like the glacier held sacred by its people.

Directors statement

The Sierra Nevada is the highest coastal mountain in the world and home to an incredible verity of ecosystems. Most people aren’t even aware of this place and yet it connects us all: The Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the heart of the world, so the Arhuaco elders. If it stops beating, earth is only a dying body.

I first learned of the Arhuaco community and their strong relationship with the ancestral land after moving to Colombia in September 2015. What at a first glance seemed to be a intouched paradise turned into a landscape full of history, resistance and violence. I asked myself, how does the comunity which is still living in relativ isolation interpretate the changing climate which they wittness everyday?

My first meeting was with the Arhuaco Governor Rogelio Mejia, who steped out of a bullet proof car protected by two bodyguards. I knew a little bit about the work of the Arhuaco comunity in the Sierra Nevada but this fist meeting was against my expetactions. Soon I learned that the struggle of the Arhuaco community in protecting their land and spreading their message has been a sacrifice costing the lifes of many. I continously attended meetings of the Arhuaco community elders learning about their situation, and gradually earning enough trust to propose my project to them. Another year would pass by before I was allowed to begin filming.

I am a lifetime mountain climber, nevertheless the western mountaineering idea of reaching a summit and proving human strength over nature was never the purpose of my visit and the film. Quite the opposite our adventure was to establish a bridge of knowledge and to get a insight of the Arhuacos stunning work and relationship with the mountain and the world.

Production info

Feature length: 91min

 TV length: 52min

Production year: 2018

Shooting format: Sony 4K

Screening format: DCP, Digital format, Bluray

Aspect ratio: 1:1,85

Sound format: Dolby 5.1


Written and directed: Alexander Hick
Camera: Immanuel Hick
Production: Ana Lozano
Edit: Julian Sarmiento
Music: Christian Castagno & Nacho Drault
Translation: Ati Gundiwa Villafañe I Maria Carmen Villafañe I Lucelly Villafañe I Cayetano Torres I Jordan Troeller
Sounddesign: Andreas Goldbrunner
Colorgrading: Claudia Fuchs
Titledesigne: Ester Sanchez
Consulting producer: Gunter Hanfgarn I Maxim Holland
Consulting edit: Marta Andreu

A Flipping the coin Films production in coproduction with University for Television and Films Munich supported by FilmFernsehFonds Bayern and Freunde und Förderer der HFF München.


Jwikamey Torres, Bunkey Torres, José de la Cruz Torres, Mamo Bernandino Suarez, Cornelio Suarez, Alfonso Suarez, Norma Suarez, Tobía Chaparro, Rogelio Mejía Izquierdo, Margarita Villafañe, Nawingumu and family, Javier Torres, Mercedes Torres, Joel Norena Serna, Mamo Efraín Torres


Human Rights Film Award, 2018, Germany

International Documentary Film Festival Vienna, 2019

Special mention of the Jury


  • Visions du reel, 2018, Switzerland, 2018, International Competition
  • Cervino Cinemountain Festival, 2018, Italy, International Competition
  • Human Rights Filmfestival Inconvenient Films, 2018, Lithania, International Competition
  • Astra Filmfestival, 2018, Rumania, International Competition
  • Nominee German Filmacademy, 2018, Best newcomer documentary
  • Mountainfilmfestival Graz, 2018, Austria, International Competition
  • Autrans International Filmfestival, 2018, France, International Competition
  • Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis, 2019, Germany, Feature Documentary Competition
  • Festival Internacional de Cine Cartagena de Indias, 2019, Colombia
  • Ethnocineca Filmfestival, Austria, 2019
  • Competition Excellence in Visual Anthropology Award
  • Royal Anthropological Institute Filmfestival, 2019, UK
  • Muestra de cine de derechos humanos, 2019, Guatemala
  • Encuentros del otro cine, 2019, Ecuador
  • Festival of Transcultural Cinema, 2019, Germany
  • Dokfest Munich, Nominated for the documentary talent award, 2019, Germany


Thinking like a Mountain es una película muy importante para nosotros. A pesar de que es la mirada de un viajero europeo, la película no es euro- centrista. Nos deja contemplar y pensar con las montañas, y es allí cuando nos damos cuenta de lo que debemos proteger. 

Felipe Aljure

Director Artístico Festival de cine Internacional de Cartagena de Indias FICCI

The term «human rights» often describes swiftly what in real life is fragile and vulnerable at once. So those who are vulnerable and live in minorities have to be cared for by society.

With the film Thinking like a Mountain Alexander Hick has succeeded in creating a masterpiece. One feels truly connected to the life of the Arhuacos in Colombia and cannot resist over feeling profound respect and empathy for them. Even if that sounds pathetic, this film may be made for the eternity!

Iris Berben

President of the German Filmacademy

Wer Alexander Hick interviewen möchte, sollte Bergstiefel und Eispickel im Gepäck haben. Denn der 1985 in Tegernsee geborene Dokumentarfilmer und Künstler ist die meiste Zeit des Jahres nicht nur im Ausland unterwegs, sondern auch in höchsten Höhen. Seit 2018 ist der im Chiemgau aufgewachsene Absolvent der Akademie der Künste und der HFF München staatlich geprüfter Berg- und Skiführer. „Mich zieht es einfach seit vielen Jahren ins Gebirge», erklärt der Filmemacher in einer Mail aus Kolumbien, wo er gerade in der Bergkette Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta im Nordosten des Landes unterwegs ist. „Die Kräfte zu erleben, die in den Bergen aufeinander wirken. Das interessiert mich!“ erklärt der versierte Felskletterer. Auch sein faszinierendes Dokumentarfilmessay Thinking like a Mountain, in dem er unter schwierigen Bedingungen ein Jahr lang das indigene Volk der Arhuaco Indianer begleitet hat, trägt bereits das Wort Berg im Filmtitel.
Nach seiner Weltpremiere in Nyon, einer Nominierung für den First Steps Award und der Auszeichnung mit dem Menschenrechtsfilmpreis in der Kategorie Hochschule, wird Alexander Hicks Abschlussfilm im Januar auch beim Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis in Saarbrücken zu sehen sein. Es verwundert außerdem kaum, dass er sich für das Filmoeuvre Werner Herzgos, eines anderen Bergbuben aus den Chiemgauer Alpen begeistert, der von Sachrang aus die (Film-) Welt eroberte. „Es gibt dort oben etwas, das nah am Leben ist, das man nicht kaufen kann. Das kann die Beobachtung einer Wolke sein oder der Niederschlag, der einem das Fortbewegen unmöglich macht oder lebenswichtiges Wasser bringt.» Labyrinthisch-komplex sind viele seiner Arbeiten die regelmäßig in wichtigen Kunsträumen ausgestellt werden. Darin zitiert er beispielsweise Jean Rostand: „Die Erde wird irgendwann ein unbewohnbarer Ort sein.“ Aber Alexander Hick wird sicherlich auch dann noch (s)einen (Lebens-) Weg weitergehen wenn es wirklich so weit sein sollte: Denn ihn, der seine Umwelt und die veränderten Klimabedingungen genau registriert, treibt es wortwörtlich ganz nach oben.

Simon Huack

Film News

Thinking like a Mountain is a stunning documentary about the Arhuaco indigenous community who live on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada in Colombia. They struggle to protect their sacred wisdom and their mountain from the aggression of imperialism and religious conversion and industrialization and war. They are the guardians of their forest and the summits of rock and ice. A voyage through space and time. Some of the wisdom I witnessed with gratitude: The earth is a part of our body – we can’t harm it, for we harm ourselves. At night they dream they become a bat so they can listen to bird songs and make predictions about the future. What do you become at night? Do you take your cues about tomorrow from the songs of birds? They call water HER and talk with respect and deep admiration about how there’s so much to learn from HER and to protect and be protected. Water – Her: This most precious element we all need to survive. This film, the restraint and respect in which it was made; the tender visual poetry and music and sound moved me very deeply. Our earth and some of the last humans living out this wisdom of oneness with all life is disappearing so fast from our planet we are about to lose them all. And with that I fear the earth may fold in on herself and collapse from sheer heartbreak and sorrow that there is no one left that Sees Her. This is the cost of consumption and human greed. I am so grateful to FICCI Festival for screening this brilliant work. Directed by Alexander Hick “These rocks
are their resistance.”

Lindsay Branham

Founder Novo Film

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