Words by Jeff Schmuck
Photos by Dan Mathieu & Jeff Schmuck
Three words: what a weekend! The International Freeskiing Film Festival wrapped up in Montreal with last night’s NS Awards, and according to virtually every single person in attendance this weekend, it was both an amazing success and one hell of a good time.
After Salomon kicked things off on a high note on Thursday night with their now legendary 10 Years of 1080 Party, 18 movies were premiered at the Imperial Theatre throughout Friday and Saturday.
The Imperial Theatre
The show began with Invert Productions’ Stratospheric, which saw some top-notch cinematography and skiing from all over Europe along with some more diverse locations. The AM division then kicked off with Voleurz’ Outdoor Education, which I’ve personally watched close to 10 times since receiving a copy last month, and soon, very soon, you’ll all be able to do the same as it will be available for free download, so make sure you get in on the fun. Voleurz’ Darren Rayner and Mason Mashon made the trip out to Montreal and if you know either of them or have happened to come across them in any establishment that serves alcohol and has a dance floor, you’ll know that this weekend’s trio of parties were that much wilder thanks to their attendance.
IF3 hosts Philou Poirier & John Symms with Voleurz' Darren Rayner
Following Voleurz’ was the first of two AM films straight out of Quebec, NSF Productions’ Why Not. With the full crew in town loudly and proudly sporting their Why Not shirts, and hundreds chanting ‘Why Not’ as the boys took the stage to introduce their film, to say this movie was highly anticipated by the Montreal crowd would be an understatement, and it didn’t disappoint.
premieres aren't premieres without ridiculous games and challenges for free swag...
After the first half of the AM side of things wrapped up for the day it was on to the big boys, beginning with SVP’s Alliance, which had the likes of Arnaud Kugener, Richard Permin and Laurent Favre’s ridiculously talented skiing on full display. But what can you say? They’re from France where everyone comes out of the womb on skis already able to shred any line or jump without fear.
and premeries aren't premieres without sponsors, and here's a few of the good people that helped make IF3 happen...
Luke Jacobson in the Moment booth
Steve Gendron & co from Liberty skis chill out in their booth, which was situated right next to the Orage lounge...
...where JP Auclair and his stunt double were hanging out.
and of course, everyone's favorite (or at least the guys'), Paris & Britney, the DNA Angels.
The huge buzz that was in the air for the next film became a full on roar as Head For The Hills by east coast legends Meathead Films took to the screen. No one shows the beauty, vibe and rawness of the east coast like the Meatheads, and this year they continued what they’re known best for with their unique brand of story telling, and it was without a doubt their best work to date. Be sure to check it out.
Radio Ron telling it like it is
But once Friday was all said and done, the talk of the festival was that the next film, Theory-3’s Journal, had stolen the show for the day. With some of the best backcountry footage produced in any movie this year, and a head-shaking segment by the man Tanner Hall calls the most underrated skier on the planet, Charley Ager, complemented by some hilarious narration by Joe Schuster, Theory-3 truly out did themselves last year and Jeff Thomas was awarded by a lengthy standing ovation and more pats on the back than at the Republican National Convention for his efforts.
Theory-3's Jeff Thomas and his mentor, Poorboyz' Johnny Decesare, watch Journal together
It was a tough act to follow but fortunately that act was the one that everyone had been waiting for, The Massive.
Tanner Hall and Eric Iberg set the mood in the theatre right off the bat with whistle sticks, hand clappers and bull horns.
The theatre was packed to the britches as Tanner Hall, Sammy Carlson, Frank Raymond, Dana Flahr and the Pettit brothers took the stage to introduce their masterpiece, which was highlighted by a special-effects filled opening, epic powder segments from Retallack (which Sean Pettit came into his own as a backcountry warrior), Whistler (where Callum Pettit got only better, even that’s even possible) and Alaska (where Dana Flahr proved how much of the man he is). And what can be said about everything in between courtesy of T-Hall? From the pipe to the streets to the backcountry, Tanner continued to prove yet again that he is the top skier in the game with his unmatchable diversity and love for the sport.
Then to close the show was Rage Film’s Such is life, which garnered quite possibly the loudest cheers of the night for Ian Cosco’s opening segment, which simply has to be seen to be believed. Enough said.
Ian Cosco & Rage's AJ De Saint Phalle close the show by introducing Such is life and leading Philou and Symms in a good old fashioned swag toss.
After the movies, it was onward to Cabaret Juste Pour Rire for the Red Bull Tanner Hall Massive Reggae Party. 500+ crammed into the bar, and as Red Bull and vodkas began flowing, Tanner Hall took to the stage for one of his classic and epic speeches, where he gave huge props to 4bi9 Media and Stept Productions, who he called ‘the future of our sport’ and then took it a step further by letting everyone that there’s four people he looks up to skiing right now, “Number one is Tom Wallisch, number two is Tom Wallnuts, number three is T-Wall and number four is whatever you want to call Tom Wallisch.” He also threw down props to Jon Brogan and Henrik Harlaut and told the capacity crowd how proud he is to be a skier after seeing all the hard work that had gone into this year’s films.
He then introduced the performer for the night, Mikey Dangerous, who was a last second replacement for Cali P after he was denied entrance to North America earlier this week for having the wrong work visa. And fortunately for everyone in attendance, Mikey was a solid choice, as he proceeded to put on a fantastic and energy-filled show that had the entire crowd bumping until the wee hours of the morning.
The movies then continued on Saturday as many a foggy faces holding big bottles of water and tall cups of coffee made their way back to the Imperial for the second day of premieres, which again began with the AM division. Up first was the second Quebec-based film, ESK Media’s Hat Trick, which would later turn out to be the proverbially dark horse of the entire festival.
Nick & Alex Martini with Caroline Sauve
Following Hat Trick was Stept Productions’ beautifully done Road to Nowhere, which was Alex and Nick Martini’s coming out party, as the brothers pull their talent both in front and behind the camera on full display. And last but definitely not least, closing out the AM division was 4bi9 Media’s Slamina, which had two of the most amazing segments of the year from two of the most amazing young skiers in the world, Tom Wallisch and Henrik Harlaut.
a bigger and better crowd returns for day 2 of the premieres.
Once the AM division was all wrapped up, Atomic’s Skiing is_____ (formerly know as 44 Days) kicked off the last half of the Pro side of things. Atomic’s film was Teddybear Crisis’ Kris Ostness return to ski filmmaking, and to no one surprise, he’s produced and unique and enjoyable film that you should all check out.
Following Ostness’ latest brainchild was Mystic Land Productions’ Broadcast, which was easily and by far one of the most fun and enjoyable films I’ve seen in my life…and it stars NS’ own Doug Bishop as a newscaster who hosts the movie, so how can you go wrong? Combine that with banger segments from Chris Turpin, Alexis Godbout, JF Cusson, Frank Raymond and JF Houle, and everyone in the audience was virtually on their feet screaming in both approval and amusement.
Sammy and Dom introduce Up In Snow while Symms teases the gearthirsty crowd with one of the many super sick headphones Skullcandy kicked down for IF3.
Following Broadcast another French offering, Up In Snow by Dominique Janiszewski, best known for his work with Sammy Carlson at the Jon Olsson Super Sessions. Dom spent the better part of the winter traveling with the likes of Sammy, Simon Dumont, Tanner Hall, Laurent Favre and a host of extra gnarly big mountain riders such as Cody Townsend. The result was an extremely enjoyable offering from Dom, who will certainly become more and more of a major player in the game for years to come.
Things then really, really got going as Filip Christensen and Even Sigstad from Field Productions took to the stage after flying all the way from Norway for IF3. The boys introduced their new film, Get Lucky, which boasted an awesome soundtrack, a truly epic segment from PK Hunder (not that anyone expected anything less) and did a great job of showing just how awesome the skiing is in Norway.
IF3 judge Phil Belanger
The moment many had been waiting for then arrived as Eric Pollard and Chris Benchetler came on stage to present Hunting Yeti. With one of the best soundtracks I’ve ever heard in a ski film, an epic Oregon night pow segment and an overall relaxed and good times vibe, this movie (which is vastly different from any of the webisodes in case anyone is wondering), is absolutely timeless, and a must have for any true skier, young or old.
the crowd checks out Turbo
Then it was onto the last two films, Level 1’s Turbo and Poorboyz’ Reasons. Berman is going to kill me for saying this, but I unfortunately missed it as I had to scoot to the Telus Theatre to prepare the NS Awards, but I talked to Matt Margetts about it afterwards to get the scoop, and with half his trademark shit-eating grin on his face/half jaw dropped open, all he could say was, ‘Oh my God. It was absolutely fucking amazing’
Mike Douglas introduces Reasons along with Sammy Carlson & Matt Walker
Reasons then closed the show, and Johnny D’s latest and greatest film really has to be seen to be believed. The Poorboyz crew got the old band back together this year with guys like Tanner Hall, Eric Pollard, Jon Olsson and others returning to the fold for a concept movie based on just why these guys do what they do. The creative and extremely well done monologues help the film flow together beautifully, and not to give anything away from tomorrow’s article on the NS Awards to those of you who didn’t watch the live broadcast, but Johnny and his crew were deservingly awarded Best Film for their efforts.
the post-IF3/pre-NS Awards chaos
After Reasons, it was all said and done for the premieres, but time for the crown jewel of the weekend, the infamous Newschoolers Awards, which was such an event unto itself that we’ll be doing a separate update on the show alone, which we’ll have online within a few days.
Planes, trains and automobiles carrying skiers, filmmakers and fans are leaving Montreal as I type this, all with ear-to-ear grins on their faces after the truly epic event that was IF3. However a strong contingency of industry-types have stayed behind for tomorrow’s true finale, the highly, highly anticipated JF Cusson Golf Invitational, which we’ll have also have full coverage on later this week. So stay tuned for more from IF3.