Words: Jeff Schmuck
Photos: Matt Stauble, Charles Spina & Felix Rioux
Day two of the International Freeskiing Film Festival has wrapped up, and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the fourth installment of the annual event is the biggest and best yet.
Following the previous night's North Face Outdoor Screening of Field Productions' Side By Side and the IF3 VIP Party which left many a industry folk reaching for the aspirin, the festival continued with seven premieres at the historic and gorgeous Cinéma Impérial.
The day began with the first of five films in the Am category, Rev, A Buried Treasure, which was a documentary on skiing and life in the sleepy but growing mountain town of Revelstoke, BC. The film told the story of the town, from its history to plans for the future, and how locals are reacting to changes in the winter wonderland as a result of the ski hill's expansion. As anyone who's been to Revelstoke could guess, the film was all about the pow, which was slayed throughout the movie by just the right mixture of a few pros (Chris Rubens, Mark Abma and Dave Treadway among others) and many average, every day locals (including a tree planter and a father of two), all of whom told their own tales about how they came to Revelstoke and why they never left. The result was an interesting, entertaining and refreshing film with real stories about real people, and possessed somewhat of a Warren Miller-type theme (especially thanks to appearances from ex-pro skiers Andrew Shepperd and Eric Pehota, who's son Logan also kills it in the film), but without the cheesiness of gapers falling off the chairlift.
Following Rev was a truly fantastic film that told its own amazing story, Azadi. Azadi, which is Kashmiri for freedom, tells the story of the legendary ski mecca of Gulmarg, India. The movie opens with a brief and informative history lesson of Kashmir (where Gulmarg is located) and its constant struggle for independence between the age-old power struggle between India and Pakistan. The movie features breathtaking pow skiing intertwined with positive testimonials from a host of locals on the trials and tribulations the region has persevered through, and how tourism from skiing has breathed new life into the area. For the traveler in all of us, this blend of excellent storytelling and deep powder skiing is a must see.
After the screening of the second webisode in the Best Webisode category, Shred' N Breakfast Episode 6, a short break took place where the first adult beverages of the day were consumed en masse in the lobby before everyone made their way back into the theatre for Dendrite Studios first film, Out of the Shadows. The film (like the film company) is based primarily in and around the Whistler area, and showcases athletes that in Dendrite's words, "Have been in the shadows for far too long." As a result, the all big mountain movie features a host of relatively unknown skiers who work as cooks, bartenders, bouncers and a variety of other professions in Whistler that help them keep the dream alive. Eye-popping segments from Brett Crabtree, Dave Treadway, PY Leblanc, Jon Larsson and Christian Boucher stand out, and special mention is very much in order for Chris Turpin, who has the wackiest segment of the movie with a rope swing into pow and helmet cam footage of him bouncing his ski pole off of his skis and other objects and catching it mid-air. Gotta love Turpin.
After a viewing of the trailer for Sweetgrass Productions' new film Desert River (which is still in the process of being completed) and Nimbus Independent's new webisode En Route Nomads (which you can see for yourself here if you haven't already), the respectable crowd took another break before becoming a capacity one for one of the most highly anticipated films of the year, Like A Lion. To say that Eric Iberg's documentary on one of the best and most controversial skiers of our time is a masterpiece wouldn't be doing it justice. The film is raw, dirty and keeps you entertained and on the edge of your seat as it delves into the life of Tanner Hall with zero sugar coating. No stone is left unturned as Tanner (along with his parents, brother, friends, sponsors, former coaches and others) takes a look back at his rise to the top and makes no apologies for the bumps in the road along the way, including his rebellious youth, dropping out of high school, his issues with drugs and alcohol, two nearly career ending injuries, the death of his best friend CR Johnson and his attitude that at times has caused many to raise an eyebrow or two over the years. When Iberg set out to make this film he and Tanner agreed that if he was going to do it, it had to be done right or not done at all, and they did just that, giving everyone the film that we all hoped, wanted and expected to see, and received a loud and lengthy standing ovation from the sold out crowd for their achievement. Don't miss it.
After another short break during which more prizing was tossed out and more drinks were tossed back, PVS's Punch Line began, which so far is arguably the film to beat for best soundtrack at tonight's Newschoolers Awards. With a diverse mixture of songs that ranged from Jimi Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower during the Russia segment and Steppenwolf's Born To Be Wild during Richard Permin's mind-blowing closing segment, to a host of crowd-pumping hip-hop and reggae beats, Punch Line's soundtrack definitely packed a punch. On the skiing side of things, highlights included gnarly lines and deep pow throughout the French and Swiss Alps, X Games gold medalists Kevin Rolland Xavier Bertoni showing off their skills both in and outside of the pipe, and Laurent 'Lolo' Favre proving to everyone once again why he's considered one of the most stylish skiers in the world.
It was then time for the final film of the evening and arguably the most looked forward to of the entire weekend by the Montreal jib-loving crowd, Level 1 Productions' Eye Trip. And it did not disappoint. Ahmet Dadali opens the trip with a bang (and a lot of afterbang), followed by more of the same from the uber-smooth Adam Delorme, extremely unique urban showings from JF Houle and Mike Hornbeck, and Wiley Miller and Josh Bibby killing in a variety of segments throughout the entire film, during which Bibby plays his harmonica while a trio of dogs get it on nearby (seriously). Parker White and Chris Logan then loudly announce their presence to the ski world with breakout parts, while speaking of breaking out, Superunknown VII winner Logan Imlach makes the most of his opportunity with some seriously innovative skiing in his native Alaska that includes a massive 360 pond skim. Kaya Turski then received some of the loudest cheers of the night from her hometown crowd for her impressive urban segment, while Will Wesson continued to boggle minds with the things he somehow makes possible on skis. Tom Wallisch, to no one's surprise, damn near left the packed to the ceiling crowd speechless with his antics, while Phil Casabon and Henrik Harlaut's banger segment that has B-Dog rise like Frankenstein at the beginning is easily one of the most creative and stylish jib segments of all time. The film then closes with the Sun Valley transfer gap session where Chris Logan, Parker White and Tom Wallisch do things that you simply have to see to believe. Hats off to Josh Berman, Freedly Coty, Kyle Decker and all of their hard-working athletes for another job well done.
After the films, the jacked up crowd made their way to the Telus Theatre for the Like A Lion party hosted by Tanner Hall and featuring performances by Biga*Ranx, Mikey Dangerous, Black Phantom and Cali P. Once again, I'll let Matt Stauble, Charles Spina and IF3 President Felix Rioux's epic photos do the talking...
Tanner Hall, host of the Like A Lion party.
Tanner Hall & Cali P
Level 1 Productions' Kyle Decker getting his groove on.
Matt Walker & Kaya Turski
Max Hill & Nick Martini
All Star performs tonight at the Newschoolers Awards.
Johnny Decesare & Tanner Hall
The fourth annual International Freeskiing Film Festival continues today with 10 more premieres at Cinéma Impérial (including the latest offerings from PBP and MSP) and then culminates later tonight with the always infamous Newschoolers Awards. Stay tuned for another update on everything that's about go down today and tonight, and if you're lucky enough to be here in Montreal to take this all in, let's send it.