Disclaimer: Mike Rogge is the associate editor of Powder magazine and a former employee of Meathead Films. These are his grades and do not reflect the opinions of the Powder staff as a whole.
Now in its fifth year, the International Freeski Film Festival in Montreal has solidified its position as the event to kick off the upcoming winter season. By now, the party hangovers and retina burning caused by the viewing of over 30 ski films has subsided. Instead of a traditional, "here's what happened" recap (really, does anything other than partying and film watching ever happen at premieres?), let's hand out grades to the standout films. -Mike Rogge
The Freedom Chair – Switchback Entertainment – The Josh Dueck story is one that has been whispered about amongst industry insiders and skiers for years. Mike Douglas and Jeff Thomas bring the inspirational tale to light in their film festival debut. You can get more information on this film in the latest issue of Powder which is on newsstands now. And yes, I just got a cookie for promoting the magazine online. Shout out to synergy! B
ALL.I.CAN – Sherpas Cinema – One of the most anticipated films of the year, showing this movie outside during The North Face Outdoor Screening was a good call by the event organizers. For those looking to be visually stimulated, this is your film. However, it's also a "sit down and watch at home with a beer" film. Bonus points to JP Auclair for redefining urban skiing in the final segment. Yes, you read that right. B+
Follow Us – FollowUs.TV – Kevin Rolland and Xavier Bertoni are excellent halfpipe skiers. No one can deny that. However, their webisodes are strange and not in a "let's light our farts on fire" Chug Life kind of way. Perhaps their French humor is lost in translation with their rap video-esque antics. While the short does show behind-the-scenes footy of the competition circuit, this edit left many in the crowd scratching their oversized beanies. C-
On Top of the Hood – Nimbus Independent – Sammy Carlson and Eric Pollard's ambitious project debuted to strong cheers. The film is certainly not a contender for Movie of the Year honors but given the short amount of time Sammy and Pollard had to shoot and edit this film, it gets a decent grade. Bonus points go to John Spriggs for having a good showing in this film and Retallack: The Movie. Even cooler, you can watch this film right now. B-
Retallack: The Movie – Inspired Media Concepts – Tanner Hall's return to the big screen is a celebration of his cat skiing operation. This film lacks the "Wow, Tanner Hall is a great skier and I'm a 25 year old with his poster on my wall" footage we've come to expect from T-Hall. Instead, this is more of a bridge between Like a Lion and the next project Inspired Media has on tap. Side note: I do have a Tanner Hall poster in my house. Yes, I'm a loser. C+
Animus – PVS – In this film there was a child running through an abandoned house, insane visual effects, and Kris Ostness not saying, "Wait, didn't I use this same concept in Teddybear Crisis?" Bonus points for trying something different in ski films (using a script). C-
Prime Cut – Meathead Films – Here's full disclosure: this is the first film since Wild Stallions I didn't have a hand in making with the Meats and it's the best one ever. What does that say about my filmmaking career? I sucked at it. What does it say about this year's MHF movie that celebrates their tenth year making films? It's beefy. Bonus points for tastefully putting together a segment on Green Mountain Freeride and the late Ryan Hawks. A
After Dark – Level 1 Productions – Fans of Level 1 are the most passionate in skiing about the Level 1 brand. With After Dark, the guys from L1P have produced their best film since Strike 3. Yes, there's a theme strung through the entire film but it doesn't take away from the ski action. Bonus points to Ahmet Dadali's f'd up pink bunny rabbit dream sequence and Parker White's opening segment which makes him a dark horse to take home Male Skier of the Year at Powder Awards. A+
Frozen Yogourt – NSF Productions – The Quebec crew took home the IF3 Palms for Best Am Film. The intro to this film reminded me that filmmaking should capture real moments like kicking back with friends, having a few drinks, and flinging rainbow colored yogurt (notice how I spelled that) at one another. Certainly worth checking out. B
Beggin' For Change- 4bi9 Media – It started with a Vimeo comment by someone at Nimbus Independent that said 4bi9 had "an identity crisis" (Internet Fight!). Perhaps that anonymous commentator is correct. 4bi9 is no longer an AM film company and if that's how they feel then that is, indeed, an indentity crisis. Make no mistake about it, this is a professional offering from an entertaining Utah-based crew. Bonus points to Tom Wallisch for finally taking down his white buffalo rail. B
Weight – Stept Productions – A beautiful film that attempts to explain why skiers go into the urban evironment. This film won the IF3 Palms for Best Jib Film and for good reason. Bonus points to skier and co-director Cam Riley for surviving a meltdown on camera and including it in the film. For a moment, the audience thought Cam was going to eat someone's children but instead he slid the high-bust Breck rail. Child Protective Services thanks you, Cam. A-
Nothing Else Matters – Legs of Steel – Proof that Red Bull can give skiers the budget to make a good ski film that doesn't have an all-reggae soundtrack, the LoS crew has a ripping metal soundtrack that melts faces and puts Newschoolers.com Editor Jeff Schmuck's heart in a comfortable place. Roger Ebert had nothing to say about this film but Mike Rogge from Powder magazine says, "A pleasant slashing surprise!" Bonus points to me for using the third person. A
That's Fine- Voleurz – Josh Stack, The Winter Volympics, and Max Hill smokes a bunch of cigarettes. Then he taps an intern (insert Human Resources joke here). This free release is good and worth the watch. Bonus points to K.C. Deane for putting together one of the best segments a Voleurz film has ever seen. B
The Grand Bizarre – Poor Boyz Productions – Last year the biggest complaint about the PBP film was it was too long. The additions of Charlie Grinnell and Duncan Lake (who has since left Poor Boyz) to the production team is apparent. This year's flick is a return to the "bangers." While they took home the IF3 Palms for Movie of the Year, the flow of the film felt a bit off. However, it is undeniable that Poor Boyz has put together a fresh group of skiers. Bonus points to Dane Tudor for returning to his Everyday is a Saturday form and L.J. Strenio for doing many L.J. Strenio type things. A-
Attack of La Niña – Matchstick Productions – MSP loses points for making me Google search how to add an "ny" (the squiggly line over an "n" in Niña) and producing a film that feels much like last year's film. Fortunately for MSP, last year's film won the Powder Award for Movie of the Year. I imagine when you have a winning formula, it's tough to mix it up. Bonus points to MSP Editor and Rad Skier, Scott Gaffney, for a quick yet hilarious cameo appearance. For more on this film, read Señor Editor John Stifter's review. C+
Being There – Field Productions – Director Filip Christenson continues his streak of making cinematographic happiness. He has an unmatched understanding of how to capture specific tricks and edit them together in a way that any skier can appreciate. This is a strong film. Field has the Discovery Channel and Walt Disney supporting and distributing this picture in Norway. Three cheers to the Hus Mus. A+
Blackout/B&E Show – Inspired Media – Phil Casabon and Henrik Harlaut were the major defectors of the ski film world to join Tanner Hall and Eric Iberg's Inspired Media ranks. Their first offering has many of the shots previously seen in the B&E shows available online but the flavor of the editing is unique. C
For a full recap of the festivities, head over to Newschoolers.com.
Mike Rogge is the cohost of IF3 and the associate editor of Powder magazine. His new book is nowhere to be found because he hasn't written one.