words and photos by Jeff SchmuckDay 1 of the International Freeskiing Film Festival in Montreal has been put to bed, and most of those who were there still haven�t woke up. Much the like the corn field told Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams, �if you build it they will come,� Felix Rioux, JF Durocher and Phillipe Bejamin have already outdone themselves by putting together an event that has kicked off the winter like no other. The Imperial Theatre theatre in downtown Montreal and accompanying K2 afterparty at Lola Lounge were packed to the roof with pros, filmmakers, industry-types, and most importantly, an ocean of kids with ear-to-ear grins on their faces as images from this year�s crop of films made everyone start counting the days till winter.

The Imperial Theatre in beautiful MontrealThings kicked off at the second happiest place on earth, the NS office (because let�s face it, Disneyland just kicks ass), where a quiver of people got together for afternoon beers and pizza and had an in-depth discussion regarding many of the exciting things to come on NS. Following that, it was off to the theatre for a cocktail party (�cocktails� meaning Red Bull and vodka of course) as a prelude to the films.
schmooze, drink, schmooze, drinkAfter a who�s-who list of pros including JP Auclair, Anthony Boronowski, Andy Mahre, Chris Benchetler and the one-and-only Glen Plake streamed into the lobby it was time to start the show. First up was the amateur portion that showcased a handful of films that were given the opportunity to be shown to the masses. A panel of judges who will determine the recipient of the best am film award later tonight looked on as Stept Productions Chronillogical and Montage Inc�s The F in Life started things off on the right note. Chronilligocial featured some stellar East Coast park riding, with more than notable parts from Alex Martini, Shea Flynn and Jeff Kiessel who all slayed every feature that was put in front of them last winter. Montage Inc unfortunately didn�t have their full movie done in time for the event, so they put together a fifteen-minute piece showing of some of their best to hold the crowd over.
Glen Plake and JP Auclair, the living legends themselevesNext up was one of the more talked about films of the night, Magic Moves by Field Productions. Filip Christensen and Even Sigstad flew all the way in from Norway to premiere their flick, and the audience showed the proper appreciation for the boys� jetlag and the movie itself. With an incredibly fun soundtrack, a killer big mountain segment from the balls-to-the-walls Seb Garhammer and stellar park riding from Teddybear Crisis alumni Espen Linnerud and PK Hunder, along with Even Sigstad himself, Magic Moves gave something a little different to the crowd and everyone, absolutely everyone, loved it.
Felix Rioux and Doug Bishop kicking off the showAfter a short break the crowd thickened and the now critically acclaimed PNW stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and hit a grand slam with everyone in attendance. Jeff Thomas� new offering (which is his best yet) showcased the unforgettable winter that took place in the region the film is named after, and it was arguably the most well-rounded movie of the night. From the opening innovative backcountry segment from skiing�s unsung hero Charley Ager to unique park riding from Charles Grant and Max Hill to the hammer that was Brandon �Sherpa� Kelly killing everything his skis touched, PNW is nothing less than a must have this winter.
old school Mt Baker comrades reunite, Theory-3's Jeff Thomas and Andy MahreThe main complaint that everyone had after the credits rolled on the next film, Level 1�s Real Time, was Corey Vanular blowing his knee early in the season. Vanular continued to dominate the urban world in skiing last year before going down at the US Open, and the footage he mustered up for Berman before his injury scored the loudest cheers of the night up to that point. The rest of Level 1�s guys, including Steele Spence, Travis Redd, Wiley Miller, Mike Hornbeck and others had a season that any athlete should be proud of, with heaps and heaps of footage proving why Level 1 athletes are some of the hardest workers in the game.
The Dumont...about to do the shoeEveryone then took a break for some food and drinks, at which point the infamous Simon Dumont made his grand entrance. The Dumont signed autographs for a long line of fans while firing up the promotion machine for his new company, Empire, which NS will feature a story on soon. The crowd then shuffled back into the theatre for the most anticipated film of the year, Idea, the brainchild of Eric Pollard, Pep Fujas, Andy Mahre, and the mad genius Eric Iberg. It�s hard to put into words how amazing of a film Idea is, so everyone should take the time to see it for themselves, but needless to say, Eric Iberg has proven yet again that he is one of, if not the greatest ski filmmaker of this generation. The film is quite simply the most beautiful and progressive ski movie anyone has ever seen or made, and a big thanks are in order to those guys for disappearing for the winter to make it.
Vive Le Plehouse!There was no better way to end the onslaught of films in Montreal then with local favorite Plehouse, and their new flick Save capped off the night. Although rumours were floating around the theatre that this film will be their last, with jaw-dropping segments from JF Houle and Frank Raymond, some of the downright coolest skiing of the year from Josh Bibby, and the undeniable nostalgia of watching JF Cusson return to skiing with a segment that made everyone feel ten years younger, one can only hope that the Plehouse wheels will keep turning. The most important part of any of the films came before the credits in a strong message from Plehouse about the need for us, as not just skiers, but as human beings, to help do our part to fight global warming so we can continue to enjoy the sport we love, and so our children will be able to do the same.
Joe Schuster...doing the 'schu'And then of course, a skiing film festival wouldn�t be complete without an afterparty, so as the crowd rolled out of the venue Joe Schuster did the honor of painting onward arrows on everyone�s arms that pointed in the direction of the bar. The rest of the night is a standard ski industry party blur, but no one will forget the biggest smiles of the night, which belonged to Felix, JF and Phillipe, admiring the scene that their hard work, determination and passion made a reality.
sorry for partying
Thanks Felix!