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BRAVE— behind the scenes with Maria Granberg and Martin Sandin.

What does it really take to climb an 8,163-meter mountain? The documentary BRAVE provides some insights into that question. It follows professional mountain athlete Maria Granberg as she prepares to ascend Manaslu, the eighth-highest mountain in the world, without supplemental oxygen. For Maria, the “Why” of pursuing such extreme physical challenges goes beyond sports achievement—it’s an important tool and catalyst on her journey to self-discovery.

Here, we venture even deeper behind the scenes with Maria, along with BRAVE director Martin Sandin, to explore that foggy line between mountain and metaphor.

Maria Granberg

Was participating in the BRAVE documentary always a given?
“It was and it wasn’t. The focus of this film has changed quite a few times, which is often the case with documentaries. It’s been quite a vulnerable process to have someone else film, create, and put this out into the world but in the end that’s the process of practicing courage. The willingness to be vulnerable and portray the universal emotions, struggles, and aspirations we all share. Hopefully, young girls out there will see themselves in that and use it in a way that will help guide them to find their passion and path forward.”
What were your initial intentions going into this project?
“For quite some time I wanted to make a short film that would zero in on the more personal, vulnerable, and human nuances behind extreme sports rather than highlighting the extreme facts that naturally come with the sport itself. For me, it’s been a lifelong process of exposing myself to my fears and learning how to embrace and evolve through them all rather than avoiding them. There are often many preconceptions about fear and the belief that people in extreme sports don’t have them. I guess I wanted to give voice to a different perspective, that with a curious and open mind, fear can become our greatest teacher and asset, no matter who we are.”
What was the experience like?
“The work that goes into creating a short film is humbling, hard, and rewarding. Somewhat like the climbing itself. Over these past few years, I’ve had the privilege to work with great people who’ve really put their whole hearts and minds behind the intention of creating something that is relatable and hopefully relevant to people. It takes a team and I’m glad to have been a part of it.”
Any behind-the-scenes memories you would like to share?
“There are many, but one that comes to mind is when my climbing partner Ngawang and I left for our first long rotation on Manaslu. We were completely alone, sleeping just under 7,000 meters, and it was as silent as this world gets. The sky was clear, and we crawled out of our tent to gaze at the bright moon that lit up the mountain and the millions of stars above us. We stayed out there, in the freezing cold, for the longest time. It’s quite rare to have an experience like that on a busy mountain like Manaslu, and a moment I’ll cherish for a long time.”

Martin Sandin, director of BRAVE

What makes Maria’s story so interesting?
“Maria Granberg is an extraordinary person. She has this inner strength and calm that inspires you to start looking for your own true quest. “This story is interesting because Maria Granberg lets us in on her secrets and shows us that true strength isn’t necessarily about being the fastest, strongest, or the one taking the biggest risks. She is curious about all aspects of life. She is this humble seeker of wisdom climbing the highest mountains in the world. That makes her story unique. And that’s what makes this film unique.”
What’s her secret?
“Maria is curious and open-minded. She has seen the downside of life, the flip side of pushing yourself to go your own way. She has experienced life and death at the top of the world. Experiences that have changed her perception of how to live and what’s important in life, asking questions like: ‘What are we doing with the time we get?’ BRAVE is unlocking some of the secrets for the audience to bring back home, but some of the great ones will always be part of the mountains.”
Did everything go according to your original plan?
“In the end, there was almost nothing that played out the way we planned. Maria's life took turns we couldn’t see coming and we went with that. The unexpected turns are also the core of the film; what makes it unique as a document of one of Sweden’s greatest climbers. What started out as a small promotional piece ended up as a climbing documentary showing something quite rare in the climbing community. See for yourself.”

About BRAVE – How the mountains changed my life

Maria Granberg is a professional mountain athlete mostly known for attempting to climb 8,000-meter + mountains without supplemental oxygen and for becoming the second Swedish woman to summit Mt. Everest from the North Face. With a background in the behavioral science field, Maria has developed a unique toolkit that not only gives her a fresh perspective but also serves as a humbling and hopeful reminder of what it means to be human. Produced by the team behind Open Shop, Viktor Annerstål, and Martin Sandin, this film paints an intimate portrait of Maria as she prepares for the Manaslu ascent and offers insights into what it really takes to live a life of extremes.

A film by: Martin Sandin and Viktor Annerstål
Director: Martin Sandin
Director of Photography: Viktor Annerstål