Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by Matt Stauble, Charles Spina & JP Daignault
After two days of all out righteousness, the third annual International Freeski Film Festival's biggest and best day went down on Saturday in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. An ocean of glossy-eyed skiers (courtesy of the previous night's Reebok Classics Party) began stumbling into the Cinema Imperial at Noon for 10 more premieres which included some of the most anticipated films of the festival.
The day began with local champions ESK Media's new film, The Affiliates, and to say the Quebec crew killed it would be far below the mark. With stand out performances from Phil 'B-Dog' Casabon, Paul 'B-Paul' Bergeron and most exceptionally, the relatively unknown Alex Bellemare, filmmaker and all-around great guy Nick Brassard and his crew really stepped it up this year, and were later rewarded for their efforts accordingly.
Paul Bergeron & Phil Casabon
Following ESK was Shoot Me by Chaoz Productions out of Norway, where technical and uber-stylish tricks on colossal jumps overlooking breathtaking fjords were a plenty. Definitely a film worth checking out. And last but absolutely not least in the AM category was quite possibly the most looked forward film of the division, Stept Productions' How We Livin. The Martini brothers really switched up (no pun intended) the style of their film this year from last year's road trip themed classic Road To Nowhere by creating a short, sweet and to the punch flick that will be great to throw on to help you get stoked for the day ahead while you're cooking breakfast and putting on your ski boots.
Martini stoking up the crowd
Once the AM division had wrapped up and the judges began making their deliberations, the crowd filed out into the lobby to catch up with old friends, mingle with their heroes, and donate to Alpine Initiatives by purchasing popcorn from the concession stand. The mood was at an all time high as the Pro division then began, which was kicked off by another terrific offering from the beautiful country of France via Invert Productions' !What Else?, which much like their fellow countrymen's Mad In France showcased a terrific blend of all aspects of skiing, including fun times in the BC, park, and streets.
Following the Frenchmen was one of the most breathtaking films of the weekend, Sweetgrass Productions' Signatures. The film did a wonderful and flawless job of capturing the essence of skiing in Japan and the country's one of a kind culture, and in the process was arguably the best powder film of the year.
The aforementioned mood that was at an all time high then became electrified as AJ Dakoulas and his infamous 4bi9 crew took the stage decked out in all white to present their eagerly awaited film, So Far So Hood. Wallisch whipped the crowd into a frenzy by hyping up his crew's latest offering and throwing a rodeo 5 off the stage, and then it was go time. AJ really upped his editing game this year which was instantly apparent in the intro of the film, which then went into some shitkicking segments from Steve Stepp, Witt Foster and of course, the one-two banger segment of Tom Wallisch and Henrik Harlaut, which you'll have to see to believe. Get ready.
Martini & E'Dollo
After another short break Nimbus, the most forward thinking and creative group of individuals in the sport, presented their new masterpiece Contrast. The film's slow and thoughtful pace combined with a classic old school soundtrack (highlighted by a Jimi Hendrix song in Eric Pollard's segment) successfully accomplished two things that all ski movies strive to achieve...it made you realize why you're a skier, and made you want to go skiing. Hats off to the Nimbus guys for another timeless and classic film, and here's to many more.
The slow pace of Contrast was then followed by the quick and slick action of the boys from Field Productions' Eyes Wide Open, which in addition to their usual barrage of the biggest tricks imaginable over the biggest jumps imaginable (courtesy of PK Hunder, Jon Olsson and others), had some of the sickest big mountain skiing caught on film this year, which of course is inevitable anytime Eric Hjorleifson is in your movie.
It then came down to the wire with the last two films, which were fittingly from the two biggest film companies in the sport, PBP and MSP. Up first was Poor Boyz Productions' Every Day Is A Saturday, and Johnny Decesare, Tyler Hamlet and the newly recruited Jeff Thomas have done it again by hitting a Babe Ruth-sized home run with their new film. From Dane Tudor's unbelievably well-rounded opening segment that will poise him to become one of the best all-around skiers in the world (if he isn't already) to Tim Durtschi closing the show with the most progressive backcountry segment since Pep's in Session 1242, and everything in between (including stand out performances from Tanner Hall, Charley Ager and Nick Martini), the action never stopped. It was the perfect blend of what they accomplished with Reasons last year and their classic ski porn feel of old, and there really isn't a segment that you could justify skipping over. Mad props to the PBP family for another job well done.
Every Day Is A Saturday
And last but not least, Matchstick Productions' In Deep closed out the show. And despite all the non-stop action that was boiling over in the movie from James Heim, Mark Abama, Sean Pettit and so many others, it's next to impossible to walk away from the film without thinking about one thing and one thing only...the Shane McConkey tribute, which had the IF3 crowd roaring so loud that the Cinema Imperial nearly crumbled to the ground. If you're going to watch only one segment this year, make sure it's that one.
The Newchoolers Awards...we put the NS in infamous.
Once the premieres at IF3 wrapped up, it was deja vu on Saint Catherines street as the capacity crowd rushed towards the Telus Theatre for the Newschoolers Awards, which were hosted ever so eloquently by the voice of skiing, Luke Van Valin, and the man who will soon become the myth and the legend, Guillame St-Cyr, who also hosted most of IF3 and did an excellent job.
The hosts with the most: Luke Van Valin & Guillame St-Cyr
The show kicked off in the best way possible with the legend and icon himself, JP Auclair, presenting the first award in the AM division for Best Cinematography Hands Up by Secondhand Productions.
Matt Harvey presents the awards for Best AM Editing and Best Am Soundtrack
The editor of Freeskier and founder of NS Matt Harvey then took the stage for the first time at the Newschoolers Awards to a deafening ovation to present the awards for Best Editing and Best Soundtrack in the AM division, both of which were taken home by the good ol' local boys at NSF Productions for Brand New Day (for editing) and ESK Media for the Affiliates (for soundtrack).
NSF Productions wins Best AM Editing
Former AM and now big time mega Pro Sean Pettit then hit the stage to fittingly present the award for best performance by an AM, which was deservingly presented to Alex Bellemare, which was accepted by ESK Media's Nick Brassard on his behalf since Alex wasn't old enough to get in the bar.
ESK Media wins Best AM Soundtrack
The last and biggest AM award of the night, Best Film, was then even more so fittingly presented by the crew that won it last year and therefore in the Pro division this time around, the 4bi9 crew. AJ and his boys stormed the stage to the delight and roar of the crowd and dished out the goods to Nick Brassard and the ESK Media crew, who flocked to the stage en masse for one of the best moments of the night.
The 4bi9 crew presents the award for Best AM Film
The Open category of the award then began which meant they were available to any film presented at IF3 whether they be Pro or AM. The Godfather of Freeskiing Mike Douglas took the stage to present the award for Most Innovative Visual Effect and was in the midst of doing so when one of the coolest moments of the night went down, as Jared 'All Star' Haynes (who recorded the kick-ass original hip hop song for the last episode of Salomon Freeski TV and had been killing it at IF3 all weekend long) interrupted MD to offer to teach him how to freestyle since Mike recently offered to teach him how to ski. All Star broke into a freestyle about various figures in the ski industry which made the crowd go absolutely bonkers before he and Mike presented the award to Mad In France for their mental institution storyline.
Jared 'All Star' Haynes showing Mike Douglas how to freestyle
Up next was another open award, the 'VholdR Contour HD' Best Single Shot, which was handed out by Contour's Josh Green. The winner received a state of the art helmet cam from Contour, and to no one's surprise, Ride The Planets' Dominique Janiszewski took home the hardware for his paragliding camera skills in Can't Stop.
Laurent 'Lolo' Favre then came on stage to present the first award in the Pro category, for Best Cinematography, which unquestionably went to Sweetgrass Productions' Signatures. And following Lolo I emerged from my backstage perch to present the award for Best Editing to Lolo's good friends at SVP for Mad In France.
Dane Tudor, Tom Wallisch & Laurent Favre
'The Next One' Dane Tudor then strutted on stage to present Best Soundtrack to very film he made that much better, PBP's Every Day Is A Saturday, before two brand new awards in the Pro category were handed out, the first for Best Jib Flick, which was fittingly presented by Andy Parry and Will Wesson and even more fittingly given to the boys at Level 1 Productions' for their iconic offering, Refresh.
Level 1 Productions wins Best Jib Flick
Nick Martini came up next to shockingly (inset sarcasm here) present Best Big Mountain to MSP, which was followed by the awards for Best Female, which Xavier Bertoni presented to Ingrid Backstrom, and Best Male, which was presented by the lovely ladies of freeskiing, Kaya Turski, Kim Lamarre, Anais Caradeux, Jess Cumming and Michelle Parker, to Dane Tudor, in what was clearly an emotional moment for him.
Dane Tudor wins Best Male
Then from one emotional moment to the next, the IF3 judges Eric Iberg, JF Cusson and skipass.com's Guillaume Lahure gave the Jury's 'Coup De Coeur' to not a film, but to a man. The man. Shane McConkey, which Guillame from MSP accepted on his behalf before giving an emotional speech and assuring everyone in attendance that he would take the award to Lake Tahoe to give it to Shane's wife Sherry and their daughter Ayla.
Doug Bishop (aka The Drama Llame) & Dave Bishop (aka Robot) present the People's Choice Award
The People's Choice Award was next, the best man for presenting that award is always NS' Doug Bishop, who consistently steps it up attire-wise each and every year at the awards. From his all white suit the first year to dressing as The Dude last year, to coming out in a ridiculous and over-the-top llama costume this year as The Drama Llama. Naturally, his brother Dave was in tow decked out in another homemade and classic robot costume made out of cardboard boxes. The votes for the award was reportedly extremely close, with PBP's Every Day Is A Saturday just edging out Level 1's Refresh.
Johnny Decesare accepts the People's Choice Award for Every Day Is A Saturday
The man who ever so deservingly took home Best Trick last year then donned the stage to present it this year, Simon Dumont. It was a tight race this year with Pep Fujas' gap to hand drag cork 3 off a cliff, Henrik Harlaut's double cork 12 true tail and Tim Durtschi's switch double cork 10 in the backcountry, but in the end, the judges went with the originality factor and gave it to Pep.
Henrik Harlaut & Tom Wallisch present the award for Best Film
Then it was at long last time for the grand poobah of it all, the award for Best Film. And there was no two better men to present the final award of the night at the Newschoolers Awards then Tom Wallisch and Henrik Harlaut, who proudly handed the top honor to Poor Boyz for the second year in a row. A clearly stunned Johnny Decesare took the stage with all of his athletes that were in attendance and dished out many a thanks as T-Wall and E'Dollo rained free swag down on the crowd to close out the show.
Poor Boyz wins Best Film
Following the awards the top reggae artist in Canada Mikey Dangerous hit the stage to put on a performance of epic proportions which had the swaying crowd grooving for too many drunken hours to recall, while PBP celebrated their victory with many a bottles and friends and every single person in attendance closed out an unforgettable weekend of good times.
Mikey Dangerous closes the show at IF3
The following day the third annual International Freeski Film Festival wrapped up with Carte Blanche, an informative and productive meeting of the minds in the ski industry, and the World Premiere of The Edge of Never at the second North Face Outdoor Screening, which I unfortunately but understandably missed (although everyone who did see it couldn't stop talking about what an intense and heartstring pulling film it was), as Jimbo Morgan from Skullcandy and Joel Gomez from Sessions graciously hooked Doug and I up with third row center tickets to the almighty Metallica. Thanks guys!
METALLICA the following night at the Bell Centre!
An infinite number of thanks to Felix Rioux and JF DuRocher for putting on another unforgettable International Freeski Film Festival which was bigger and better than ever and will no doubt be twice that next year.
JP Auclair, Sean Pettit, Mike Douglas & IF3's JF DuRocher
Thank also to all the sponsors of the event who without IF3 wouldn't be possible, and to the entire IF3 and NS staff (especially Lily Marcoux and Jimmy Kerr) for all the tireless amount of hard work they put in behind the scenes to make the event run as smoothly as it did. But most of all, the biggest thanks are owed to all of YOU, who again made the annual pilgrimage from all over the world to Montreal to kick off the 09/10 ski season in the biggest and best way possible. It's you that makes IF3 what is.
IF3 President Felix Rioux with some very happy and satisfied customers.
See you next year! (http://www.IF3.ca)