Words by Nicko Brooke
Photos by Peter Wilson
To open up the biggest weekend on the UK snow sports calendar, last Thursday AMC brought the UK Freeski Film Festival to Shepherd's Bush, London. The third installment of the event came with a new venue and a lower minimum age requirement, allowing more of the UK's freeski fanatics to check out the latest films on the big screen. In previous years, AMC has been able to bring over 500 people through the doors, raising money for charities like MAG and Invisible Children, and with a stellar lineup of films and some great swag from sponsors including Orage, Armada and Ski Bartlett, the night was set to be a great one. With plenty of comfy seating courtesy of Fatboy beanbags, free Monster Energy drinks to keep everyone buzzing, and a mini trade village featuring the newest gear from RK and Fork Tree skis, the event has come a long way in three short years.
The new venue attracted lots of excited ski fans from across the UK.
Kicking off the proceedings, the night's emcee, James ‘Woodsy’ Woods, welcomed the crowd and prompted a stampede to the front of the stage for the first of many prize giveaways. Woodsy, George Walton and Ruben Principe launched hoodies, hats and DVDs into the crowd before announcing the first of the night's films, Sherpa Cinema's All.I.Can. Featuring incredible cinematography and a National Geographic show reel-style intro, the film was a great start to the festivities with a standout deep powder section at Island Lake Lodge, BC and a sick big mountain section featuring Kye Petersen; a world away from his first backcountry experiences in The Edge of Never.
Almost everyone walked away with some free swag.
Next up was a complete change of pace with Monster Energy/Headbud Productions/Pickings Fam's Whatever!?, swapping All.I.Can's big mountain lines for some sick urban and park shoots featuring Austrians Fabio Studer, Luggi Brucic and Tobi Tritscher. Following that was the highly anticipated follow-up to many people's favorite film from last year's festival, the hilarious OMG by Crew Stacez & Awone films. Unfortunately the dreaded tech demons struck early on during the insane section from Portugal's star of the future Placedo Valderama, and the film had to be pulled from the lineup.
Big ups to Fatboy Beanbags for providing some seriously comfortable seating during the event!
The organizers would like to apologize to all attendees for this and any other tech issues that occurred during the night, and want to assure everyone that every effort will be made to ensure such issues are ironed out for next year.
Multiple screens around the venue made it easier for the crowd to constantly watch the movies.
To placate the crowd, Woodsy, now armed with a microphone, took to the stage with George and Ruben once again to throw out another mega stash bundle before the start of Poor Boyz Productions’ The Grand Bizarre. The film opened with the incomparable Bobby Brown’s epic section that includes his now-infamous triple cork at Squaw Valley, and continued the pace with huge backcountry doubles from Dane Tudor. Simon Dumont's ridiculous cubed pipe segment gained the night's biggest "oooh" when The Dumont hit the deck hard, with an equally large cheer for Josh Stack's GT’ing antics, while Sammy Carlson's well-rounded urban and backcountry part left the crowd in awe.
Ski Bartlett's stand.
Fork Tree Skis - the UK's only handmade skis.
After a raffle with prizes including skis from Atomic and Line, Arc'teryx backpacks and a poster signed by Newschoolers favorite Tom Wallisch, UK rider James Webb commented on the level of skiing shown so far in the films by saying, "I think we should give up now and go home".
Ruben Principe with the Tom Wallisch painting.
The winner of the first set of skis!
By far the biggest and loudest crowd reaction came with the announcement of the next film to be shown, Strictly Business, by UK outfit Unity Productions. Starting with indoor and artificial slope footage and finishing with huge kicker action in Livignio, Unity Productions really stepped it up in quality this year, providing a great platform for riders like Joe Tomlinson, James Woods, Andy Collin and Jamie Lawson to show how the level of UK riding has been stepped up as well. Tommo's super smooth style, the Jefferson Airplane-accompanied urban section from Andy Collin and wily veteran Jamie Lawson and Woodsy's short section showing why he's at the top of the UK freeski game make Strictly Business the best film to come out of the UK since Chalet Girl.
Level 1 Productions’ After Dark and the new Voleurz film, That's Fine, then closed out the night's film schedule with style. Parker White's opening section in After Dark is huge, and the Japan shoot made everyone in attendance jealous after last season's terrible snow in Europe. Charles Gagnier and JF Houle sections were nothing short of urban masterpieces, while the Sun Valley shoot and Tom Wallisch, Mike Hornbeck and Ahmet Dadali’s Russia segment stood out as highlights of the evening.
The 2011 AMC UK Freeski Film Festival was the perfect way to open a huge weekend for the UK, and there were surely some sore heads in the morning at the kick off of the London Freeze Festival, but it was all worth it for an epic night of some of the year's best ski films.
Big thanks to the organizers Katie Brown and Allister Loveday for bringing the films to an ever-increasing UK audience each year.
AMC would like to thank everyone who attended, along with giving a massive thanks to all of the sponsors who made the night possible: Monster Energy, Ski Club GB, Orage, Armada, Fat Boy Beanbags, Ski Bartlett, Huck Cancer, Fork Tree Skis, Salomon, Atomic, Arc'teryx, RK, Newschoolers, MAG, Ski Film Reviews, Soul Sports and Natives.