Between 2001 and 2011, Matchstick Productions ran the table in ski film. It won seven Movie of the Year titles at the Powder Awards during that time, and for good reason. With the help of guys like Shane McConkey, its films, generally speaking, were wonderfully entertaining and featured the best skiing caught on film. And that, for the most part, really hasn’t changed for MSP.
But what has changed—or maybe more accurately, what has finally been supplied to a starving audience, is the maturation of ski films. The athlete-centric formula became a cliché. Sherpas kicked that door down in 2012. Level 1 followed up with a Powder Award Movie of the Year win themselves in 2013 for a film they produced with a fraction of the budget of MSP. The trend seemingly, is that audiences seek more creative, thoughtful films, and that has leveled the playing field to an extent.
But Valhalla is something else entirely. The biggest thing in today’s otherwise dull August skiing bubble news cycle, is the release of Sweetgrass’ new trailer. It’s dreamy in too many ways to count. As soon as I saw it, I could sense a collective eye-roll from the same industry bros and Facebook commenters (and yes, when Sierra Quitiquit does things like this, her appearance is sure to elicit a few of those) who feel cheated when POWDER runs a thought provoking, less than stoke-ful—or, heaven forbid, political—story. The status quo in skiing is shifting to a more creative focus—ski porn with a story, if you will—but are the people who just want to be “stoked” going to buy in to trippy dance scenes, hippy prayer flag shit, and Cody Barnhill as an actor?
I certainly hope so. One of Waggoner’s influences is Bill Heath’s cult classic, Sinners. It’s a beautiful, if forgotten, ski film. Waggoner and co. have an opportunity to achieve what that film couldn’t—showcasing elite cinematography and skiing through a story we can all relate to: the pull and romanticism of a life in the mountains—to a wide audience. Partly because Sweetgrass is sponsored by Dynafit and Patagonia, they had access to skiers like Eric Hjorleifson and Pep Fujas—some of the most recognizable names in skiing and no strangers to award-winning films—whose stature will lend credibility to a company that struggled to get marquee talent for previous releases, Signatures and Solitaire. That’s not to mention the inimitable talent of Sweetgrass cinematographers Waggoner and Ben Sturgulewski, who have a knack for capturing the subtle moments in skiing most others miss. The story, with the skiers and the characters and the “let’s get weird!” theme and the provocation of thought is going to be something new for skiing.
Let’s hope we’re ready for it.
World Premiere September 13, 2013, Denver, CO
Consider this your warm welcome to let your hair down and catch VALHALLA on the big screen before it’s outlawed in all 50 states. Friday, 9/13 at the Paramount Theater in Denver, CO + all-night-long VIP after party featuring Montreal wonderboy DJ Hatchmatik. Buy premiere tickets here.
Tour Tickets & Dates
Tickets are on sale for shows around the world, 130 locations to be exact. Check the tour calendar for information on where to buy tickets. Don’t see a show in your area? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DVD & Blu Ray on Pre-sale. Orders ship September 25th.