Every year, by the end of September, the Cinéma Impérial in Montreal becomes the home of the international freeski crowd during IF3, the International Freeski Film Festival. Traditionally we send Guillaume Lahure over so he can party, watch some films, and post a report. But this year the game has changed.
Guillaume had the honor of being judge, together with JF Cusson and Eric Iberg. So with the added task of judging the films without falling asleep due to jet-lag we sent him of to Montreal a couple of days ago. Check out his report to find out which films not to miss this fall.
Being a judge at IF3, it's an honor. But also a hell of a job. A job that has been added to the above-mentioned list of tasks. As a judge you have to watch ski movies for about eight hours a day without falling asleep (I've checked with the other judges, but a jet-lag did not stand as a valid excuse for a little nap in the darkness of the Cinéma Impérial) in order to pick the pro and amateur winners in about a dozen categories. Surprisingly enough, I did not get sick of it by the end. Just very tired.
But let's cut to the chase. The big winner this year is Every Day is a Saturday : best ski movie in the pro category, best soundtrack, best male rider (Dane Tudor), people’s choice...
All in all it was a well-deserved hold-up by Johnny Decesare's crew, that keeps on innovating year after year... an impressive achievement.
As for the french contestants (yep, we're french, we can't help it) we can leave Montreal with pride. SVP will be checking in two awards on the Air France flight back: Best Editing and Most Innovative Visual Effect for Mad in France. And let me assure you: SVP winning these awards has nothing to do with my French presence in the judging panel. Mad in France more than deserved the awards for the effort, imagination and originality of the film. It's an absolute must-see! Julien Rodrigues also made an impression with What Else? The film breathes passion for skiing through its beautiful images. The trips in What Else? are anything but ordinary and give the film a very human touch. Last but not least, a French production with American riders: Can't Stop by Ride The Planets took home the award for the best single shot thanks to its follow
cams by a paraglider. But the speed riding scene in Can't Stop is worth the while as well.
In the AM category ESK was clearly the best with their film The Affiliates. Jib, rails, jib, rails...it's a game that Alex Bellemare plays very well. he took home the award for best rider.
Some words for my personal favorites is in place as well. Amidst a selection of very much jib and urban oriented movies, Signatures by Sweetgrass Productions was a welcome change. It was even so different that a big part of the audience did not seem to get the point. This documentary on skiing culture in Japan is simply beautiful: it's almost mystic aproach goes well beyond pure sport. It got the price of Best Cinematography for the incredibly well-taken shots.
In a similar vein, Contrast, his year's production of Nimbus Independent is more of a manifest than a ski movie. Take the average ski movie, take out the bling, take out the jib and you're left with only the people in it and their passion for skiing. Very beautiful and very successful.
As for the riders, there are some names to watch : Sean Pettit, 17 years, is the most impressive rider in In Deep (MSP). Dane Tudor simply does it all: from rails to Alaska, and Tom Wallisch, who seems to be everywhere and is the public's favorite more than ever. But let's not forget Pep Fujas who gets more inspired and motivated as he goes and won the award for the best trick. French rider Richard Permin made quite an impression with his freeride segment.
But the rider that left the biggest impression was without hesitation Shane McConkey, to whom MSP dedicated a big part of In Deep. This touching part made the jury decide to award it's 'Coup De Coeur' not to a film, but to the memory of Shane.
Little options for the jury when it came to awarding the Best Female. Hardly any film featured true female parts, so Ingrid Backstrom got the award almost automatically because of the absence of other competitors (which does not cast any doubt on here level in skiing, however). Who's to blame? We don't know, but surely regret it!
That's it for IF3 2009. Contrary to other editions, I've had little - if any time - to see more of Montreal, I mostly saw the cinéma impérial, les 3 braseurs and the venues that hosted the parties. But it surely was a good start of the skiing season. I'll be heading to the airport now, and after a short stop in France I'll be in Zürich for the freestyle.ch next week-end. Stay tuned for the report!
txt & photos : Guillaume Lahure
Thanks to Charles Boileau (babysitter to the judges), Felix Rioux, Lili, JF Durocher, Phil Benjamin...