Words: Ethan Stone
Last weekend the International Freeski Film Festival (iF3) continued its quest for world domination with a stop in Innsbruck, Austria, marking the festival’s first foray into the German-speaking Alpine region after recent expansions of the event: France in 2010, and Chile this year. “It’s just one more step towards bringing the industry together,” said iF3 founder Felix Rioux.
Situated in the heart of the Austrian Alps, Innsbruck is a skier’s city and fertile ground for an event like iF3. The locally-based “media house-slash-creative agency” known as The Distillery (the parent organization of European ski website/magazine Downdays) coordinated with Rioux’s team in Montreal to bring iF3’s patented formula of film premieres, parties and pro-skier hobnobbing here to Austria for the first time, where the enthusiastic local ski community welcomed the event with open arms. (This is, after all, a country where skiing is practically a national religion.) With lifts at Austrian glacier ski resorts already turning, the festival even included a few days of terrain park sessions earlier in the week on the nearby Hintertux Glacier, where freeskiing fans were able to warm up their jib skills alongside their favorite pro skiers.
Photos (T-B): David Malacrida_iF3, Audric Gagnon_iF3, Malacrida, Gagnon.
After the Hintertux sessions, things kicked off in Innsbruck on Friday with packed film screenings at the centrally located venue, the Stadtsäle, with such nice weather outside that it was almost a shame to spend the day inside watching ski movies. Nevertheless, festivalgoers from as far away as Italy, Slovenia and Great Britain came in droves to catch the newest movies from Stept, Poor Boyz, Inspired Media, PVS and others, and then stop by the outdoor “Brand Village” for a chance to score some free swag or Sean Pettit’s autograph. The day’s highlight was undoubtedly the screening of Legs of Steel’s action-packed new film Hurt So Good, featuring the chiseled features (and skiing) of Paddy Graham, Tobi Reindl, Thomas Hlawitschka and Bene Mayr, who are all Innsbruck residents and enjoy hometown-hero status here.
Saturday’s weather was even nicer than the day before, which, accompanied by a new stale-beer stench inside the hall, made it that much more difficult to sit through all the films. (Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to hold the Friday-night party in the same room where the films are shown on Saturday.) Nevertheless, the crowd endured the minor olfactory displeasure to take in the latest visual offerings from Level 1, Norway’s Chaoz Productions, and Teton Gravity Research, which more than made up for the smell. The film showings wrapped up on Saturday eve with Same S#*t Different Movie from locally-based Headbud Productions, whose perfect mix of urban, park, and nipple-deep Austrian pow drew massive cheers from the crowd, followed by the double whammy of Matchstick Production’s twentieth-year milestone Superheroes of Stoke, and the film In Space from Junkies on a Budget.
Photos (T-B): Florian Breitenberger_iF3, David Malacrida_iF3.
If you’ve never heard of that last one, that’s because it’s a brand-new concept (also created by the Distillery) in which five European filmmakers were given budgets and total freedom to create highly individual five-minute segments, which were then knit all together with a goofy but endearing story line about an extraterrestrial spaceman stranded on Earth. It sounds cheesy, but the concept is genius: five very unique edits, each mini-movies in their own right, packaged together to create a kaleidoscopic view of the European ski scene. The film was voted “Best European Film” at last week’s IF3 in Annecy, France, and is without doubt one of the better films to come out of Europe in recent years. German filmmaker Daniel Seideneder took home the honors of ‘Best Segment’ out of the five Junkies with his spectacular edit from the Nine Knights event.
After two days of non-stop moviewatching, the inaugural iF3 Innsbruck was put to bed with a rousing dance party to the soundtrack of a DJ set by Kaiser Chiefs bandmembers Simon Nix and Nick “Peanuts” Baines, who won the hearts and minds of the crowd by playing absolutely whatever songs they wanted to, from Paul Simon to the “Grease” soundtrack. I tell you now, any DJ willing to drop Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” is worth his weight in gold! All in all, the iF3 succeeded in its mission of bringing the stoke to a brand-new audience and getting Innsbruck’s freeskiers thoroughly fired up for the season to come.
Related: See our recap of Nike iF3 2012, hosted in Montreal in September.