So with the snow starting to fall in the extremities of the British Isles, and the calendar gently rolling into December; the ski season is well and truly getting into gear. Any seasonnaire friends have likely already run away to their respective resorts, leaving you with nothing but the withering jealousy of an occasional photo posted on Facebook.
Well, if you can’t quite make it to the mountains yet, let the mountains bring themselves to you, via the magic of iTunes/Blu-Ray/DVD. The production quality of ski and snowboard films has increased with the evolution of these sports in the past 6 years – aided by ever-smaller and sharper cameras – and today the films are more than just a smorgasbord of pasted-together clips. Many companies have created their own unique identity in sports films (Level 1, Voleurz & Sherpa; I’m talking about you here), and whilst some will moan about a ‘lack of originality’ in the formulas, there are plenty who will attest to the ‘if it ain’t broke’ mantra.
So without further ado, here are SportPursuit’s Top 10 (well, 9 and a bit) ski and snowboard movies for the year. Get excited.
1.) Into The Mind
Sherpa Cinemas exploded onto the scene last year with the ground-breaking ski film, All.I.Can. – and whilst it was long and often overly cinematic – nobody could fault the genuinely original and creative production of this monster film. Into the Mind is a follow-up of sorts, but promises to take a very different approach to the genre; covering a range of mountain sports from the perspectives of the minds leading them. The film isn’t actually out until 2013 – the trailer only aired about 4 days ago – but this will be a must-see movie if you love the mountains. For an example of Sherpa’s style, check out JP Auclair’s ‘street’ segment from All.I.Can. – without doubt one of the cleverest ski clips to date.
2.) Few Words
This is Candide Thovex’s first feature film, and it follows on from his revered Candide Kamera series of videos. Following the documentary-style of film that has become popular as of late, the film is a retrospective on Candide’s career. Don’t think of it as misty-eyed reminiscence though; Monsieur Thovex has been at the forefront of freeskiing for well over a decade, and so the film covers a huge amount of geography, competitions and evolution, including the eponymous Chad’s Gap. It all culminates with some breathtaking scenes shot over Candide’s last 2 seasons – much of it in the French Alps we know and love so well. Not a fast-paced film, but a beautifully shot one.
The second installment in pro-snowboarder Jeremy Jones’ ‘Deeper, Further, Higher’ trilogy; Further has been 2 years in the making (as with many of the bigger sports films of late – Art of Flight, Where the Trail Ends, All.I.Can. etc) – and has been widely touted as the best snowboard film this year. In some ways, Further apes the style of Art of Flight; however in lacking Red Bull’s somewhat collossal budget (2 choppers and a plane to film one segment), Jones has taken a direction of greater story-telling, putting more emphasis on the story behind the adventure on screen. He is renowned for his more ‘back to roots’ style of films – if you’re looking for the latest triple, look to Burton or Torstein. This is raw – we’re talking split-board trekking and hiking near-vertical faces rather than heli-drops – these guys show a love for snow taken to its extreme, and the result is all the better for it.
4.) Superheroes of Stoke
Another retrospective – clearly 2012 is the year for reflection – Superheroes is a thoroughly enjoyable ski movie. Matchstick are great at showing the fun side of skiing with friends and a community (arguably better than Poor Boyz’ ‘WE’; which was comparatively less-well received) – and this movie is a dedication to many of the names who, over the past 20 years, have brought skiing to where it is today. Obviously, with any extreme sport, there have been losses within than community; and whilst dedicated skiers will appreciate the hat-tips to Shane, Sarah, Dougie, CR and Arne, it can at times feel a bit morbid for those who just want to enjoy the skiing! Still; Matchstick are a name that can be trusted with their movies, and whilst it perhaps falls short of previous efforts ‘Claim’ and ‘The Way I See It’, it’s still a thoroughly fun watch.
Talking of fun, self-styled Norwegian hell-raiser Torstein Horgmo comes flailing into the fray with his film, Horgasm. Following the trend for one-athlete movies (a la Candide, Tanner, and the late, great Mr McConkey); Horgmo is out to tell you just how awesome his life is, and in fairness to the ‘triple’ pioneering, X-games winning athlete; he lives well. Whereas other biopics follow careers, this flick only looks at the past 2 years (at the age of 25, Torstein still has plenty of living to do). Lots of humour (some a little immature), very slick cinematography – this is one to watch with a couple of beers and some mates.
Bringing it back to the traditional ski movie format, Sunny is Level 1 Productions doing what they do best – taking some of the most stylish skiers, shipping them out to breathtaking locations and filming footage that leaves you itching to throw those ski boots back on! With names like Wallish, Bobby Brown, JP Auclair, Parker White, Eric Pollard and Mike Hornbeck you know what to expect – though perhaps less from the segment shot in Turkey! If you love to ski, then this 13th release from Level 1 should be a ritual like all those before it.
The UK Premiere for Sunny is happening at the UK Freeski Film Festival on Thursday 6th December; Tickets are available here.
7.) The 13
Sticking with the number 13 is Burton’s ‘The 13’ – a film about their 13 pro-riders. Less of the shameless brand plug you might expect; mainly thanks to Burton’s HUGE size allowing for a film with quite an impressive scope. Featuring Danny Davis, Mark McMorris, Ethan Deiss, Jeremy Jones and Terje Haakonsen (the latter two showing that age is less of a limit than you’d think), amongst others; ‘The 13’ is a solid film from a solid company, which – provided you don’t loathe Burton for their dominance – won’t disappoint. Loud, proud and great for getting you stoked.
8.) Flow State
Currently premiering across North America; it’ll be available in the UK soon. Unbelievably, this is Warren Miller Entertainment’s 63rd film – giving an idea about quite how dialled the ‘ski porn’ (gratuitous, slow-motion, over-exposed, HD segments) formula is. Still, it does the job and gets you excited to ride, with a rocking soundtrack and a fair mix of park and powder riding. A couple original segments, one featuring 11 year old Aspen Spora(whose hand-drags can leave any adult skier embarrassed), and a selection of pros trying to ride in equipment used by the 10th Mountain Division after World War II – definitely made me appreciate my rockered skis!
9.) Kill Your Boredom
More of a mini-film than full-feature…but it’s free, so who’s complaining!? Voleurz has made a thing of releasing a new movie every year showcasing their combination of pro skiers and snowboarders – often with some hilarious inter-sport banter. The KYB intro is no exception to this; though you may want to keep it clear of young children (but then that goes for most films showing humans willingly jumping from cliffs). Perhaps not as good as last year’s ‘That’s Fine’, but still very amusing.
However, if it’s fun you’re after, you simply can’t beat…
Not technically one of this year’s films, but Gnar is so damn good we implore you to watch it every single season, to get you in the mood for the weeks of snow ahead. Totally different to any of the other films here; Gnar is all about fun with friends.
Not doing impossible stunts.
Not hiking mountains for hours in the middle of Alaska.
The sort of fun that only requires (in some cases literally) a pair of skis, some friends to laugh with, and an ability to keep score. Naughty, a bit rude, and nothing that revolutionises the sport…but if this doesn’t improve your day on the mountain we’d be very surprised. Also, it’s totally free, and available right here.