So, as I’ve written about before, each fall ushers a wave of graphic ski-porn into peaceful little Bozeman, Montana. This year I attended the premiers of the Big Two: Teton Gravity Research (Re:Session) and Matchstick Productions (In Deep). They did not disappoint! Both shows were the rowdy, booze-fueled, adrenaline inducing stoke-fests I’ve come to know and love. I heard a friend who moved to San Fransisco attended the TRG premier there - and the audience sat quietly through it like an Indy film. I can’t imagine it. In Bozeman the Emerson goes off at these shows, hard, and that’s the way I like it.
My favorite scene this year? Best moments? Etc etc? Hard to say. After all these years these movies run together. What was last years even called? From which company? The Massive, Push, Hit List, Under the Influence, Seven Sunny Days? I really can’t keep track. It’s all awesome, but rarely do scenes or segments stand out. Every year some athlete/ninja gets injured too, and there is always a sad hospital or sit-ski scene (Marc-Andre Belliveau comes to mind). Not to sound callous, but, every year it is the same. Incredible, super-human feats of skiing and brutal, career ending crashes.
That said, Matchstick’s treatment of the tragic (if not unexpected) death of Shane McConkey was great. It was in a really good spirit and captured the ridiculously awesome legend he was. The “Saucer Boy” costume contest at the premier was pretty rad too. Shane was freaking amazing, and he is greatly missed.
But I digress. All of these high-budget super-stoker films are fun, but when I heard about a different kind of ski film, I was curious. Different how? Could it be better? Of course there are “jib” films, park films, Warren Miller films, snowboard films etc. But last year I started hearing about “human powered” films. The one with the highest profile is Jeremy Jones’ My Own Two Feet (this year’s Deeper looks rad too). But a new and even more specific genre is being cultivated by a company called Sweetgrass Productions: self-propelled art ski films. Last year’s Hand Cut was very well received, and since it bore a striking resemblance to Sinners I wanted to see it as well. I never got around to it… but I wrote about it on my blog. So this year Sweetgrass has a new movie, Signatures, and it looks very good too. My hope was that maybe it would come to Bozeman on tour so I wouldn’t miss this one (and might, a tentative “November” date is on the tour). But then Lo, and Behold, I get an offer from Sweetgrass to preview the new movie becuase I wrote about them last year!! This is officially the first time I’ve had a windfall from blogging, so, I was stoked.
Sure enough, I did get to preview it (thanks!). And it was indeed a very artful, tasteful ski movie. In fact, it felt like it was more about “art” and Japanese culture than skiing. Actually most of the movie featured “noboarding” (binding-less swallowtail snowboarding) instead of skiing, but even so the focus was more on the cinematography and foreign culture than even the “noboarding”. And although I enjoyed it (Japan gets some nice pow), by the end I needed a pick-me-up. It was so mellow. 180° different than the Big Movies. I really didn’t like it that much. I don’t think I’ll watch it again unless I’m having trouble falling asleep.
What surprised me so much about my reaction is that my all time favorite ski movie is Bill Heath’s Sinners. That film is totally amazing. Brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it. And it’s a very mellow, “arty” film just like Signatures. So why do I love Sinners but not Signatures? I think that part of it is the “noboarding”. I couldn’t relate and it was boring to watch. But honestly, I think the biggest reason is the music. Josh Ritter kills it in Sinners, and music in Signatures did nothing for me.
Signatures was a cool movie, but I didn’t like it that much. It looks like Hand Cut has more interesting music (blues) and more actual skiing so I still really want to see that one, despite my Signatures experience. Perhaps I will buy it, since I got such a sweet deal seeing Signatures. Oh! And check out Sinners if you ever can, it’s great (and short). Overall I welcome the growing variety in ski films, and hope to see more!
You can buy Hand Cut and Signatures from the Sweetgrass website (and check Signatures tour dates, too).
Ski Movie Trailer Buffet
Sweetgrass - Signatures
TGR - Re:Session
Matchstick - In Deep
Jeremy Jones (TGR) - Deeper
Poor Boyz - Every Day is a Saturday
(bonus because it might be the coolest trailer this year)