Images courtesy Jens Nilsson
Whether you dig their vibe, or love to take digs and their track pants and mittened hands, the Bunch are one of skiing’s foremost collectives. They have returned, at the outset of this new season, with a film called “Interpretation.”
The Bunch have been on somewhat of a tear lately. Between Magnus Graner’s gold medal performance in X Games real street and their 2017 film “India Kash,” the crew has hogged much of freeskiing’s limelight.
But beyond their physical talents, there is also a creative genius that simmers among the members of the crew, and its impact has been felt in the industry. Alric Ljunghager, resident Bunch photographer, has the best eye for skiing of anyone working right now, while Gustav Cavallin and “J Nilla” Jens Nilsson are only matched in their filmmaking abilities by the skiers themselves who are twisting, pivoting, flipping and swerving like none ever have before.
Reaction to their fame, from the ski community, has been mixed. But love and hate are easy emotions, and we might all benefit from a little nuance, from transcendance of our easy categories.
And so the movie opens, the Bunch poised to deliver another lysergic dose of skiing in the “new wave.”
For the next 27 minutes, we are treated to a visual experience, mixing physics with metaphysics and skiing with the life that surrounds it. From the opening session in Oregon, to the red ledge in Quebec city, the Bunch are on showcase. Often it's pretty, sometimes it's chaotic. Sometimes I questioned the choice of tricks, other times, like when Magnus got tails over and through the rungs of a handrail, I was floored. That trick should be rioted over. It's like Tall T Dan once said, of "Skiman's" detractors: You can't do that.
Yet for all the hysteria surrounding skiing’s latest trend, “Interpretation” doesn’t come across as a total departure. In fact, I think this movie is rooted in tradition. To me it is a modern synthesis of the “art house” genre in skiing, which traces some kind of family tree back through Nimbus’s films, Anthony Boronowski, and a vein in Poor Boyz’ deceased frame. Here’s something else: I think that’s okay. The Bunch has the power to make old things new again.
They have emerged as master storytellers of their own, not through wordiness but an unmatched ability to convey feeling, energy, and vibe. Their films have segments - whole tableaus that begin, progress, and end - that never once announce “this is a segment.” Instead, we become aware of a common thread of meaning, that the images on screen are related to a feeling.
Mr. Cavallin puts it this way: “I see it not as a story to be told but a phenomenon to behold. It’s about getting an experience out of it rather than a story or information. The meaning is in the form.” The interpretation is up to you.
Sometimes that gets a little over the top. Like using “Colors of the Wind” from the movie Pochahontas, which would be a funny choice even without the angry Orange President these days throwing shade at Native Americans. But it reflects the Bunch’s willingness to engage with mass culture, and reminds us that skiing, insofar as it is an escape, inoculates us from normalcy.
The film is available for $10 digital download right now at the Bunch dot s e. It will be released for free at a later date. Support skiing!