X-Dance 2007 BlogJan 23 2007 / Park City, UT
The party is starting at the Lat34 X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival -- Lat34's Shanti Sosienski is there to follow all of the action with the athletes and filmmakers on site!
6:00 PM to midnight - January 22, 2007Tonight was a big night for movies. Taylor Steele's Sipping Jetstreams, a surf journey around the world with culture and life and of course perfect waves around the world pulled in a jam packed house. "This movie as more about traveling the world and experiencing each spot," explained Steele. This is a departure for sure from the traditional Steele film, which always featured the most amazing surfers in the world, but often not a lot of story. "The middle east was the hardest place to film because we were always getting stopped and I was nervous. We needed permits for everything. One of the coolest experiences was one day I went into this shoe makers shop and started talking to him. He was going to America for something in the near future and he told me he was scared of what American's would do to him there. It was funny to realize that was the same feeling I had in that moment being in his country. Traveling always gives you a good perspective like that."
After Steele's movie came "Letting Go" a documentary about the rivalry between Kelly Slater and Andy Irons was the second to last film of the evening. This is a heavy competition story that was well produced and really shows the intense and important relationship between the two biggest surfers on the circuit.
The most anticipated film of X-Dance was of course last, "Let it Ride," the Craig Kelly movie. The legendary snowboarder was killed in 2003 in an avalanche, so many wanted to make this film, but Jacques Russo, who had filmed with Craig over ten years was given the go ahead by Craig's family. What was surprising about the film was that Russo could have Hollywooded the film out and glamorized Craig's life and played up his dramatic death. Instead he told a story about a man and his love of the mountains and his death is quietly brought in at the end in spite of how tragic it was. I had expected to be more emotional about the whole thing having known Craig from the snowboard world over the years, but really felt like the film was just a lovely piece of snowboarding history, told in a way that few if any movies have done so far. Kudos for Russo for pulling this great and potentially dramatic story off in a way that even the ever critical of the media Craig would have approved of.
Read More About Craig Kelly
Stay tuned for a final gallery of the awards ceremony and then hop on over to Lat34's next two stops, the Burton European Open and the X Games.
10:00 PM - January 21, 2007
Two of the most anticipated films played back to back tonight and neither disappointed. Chasing the Lotus, a surf documentary in the vein of Dogtown and Z-Boys about the history of surfing through the lense of filmer Spyder and filmer, photographer Greg Weaver and then Klunkerz, a look at the history of bikes. I have to admit, I missed part of Klunkerz, but people came out the film raving, saying it is one of the most comprehensive and best bike docs out there right now. The legendary Gary Fischer even showed up sporting a blue suit to support the film.
Being an avid surfer I did see Chasing the Lotus and this film can be described in two words, incredibly intense. From the perspective of having done a fair bit of video editing all I could think was, 'Wow, that's a lot of film to edit and years worth!" From a viewers perspective it was amazing to see all of the stages of surfing, the history, the whole evolution of pro surfers, the media, the life of photographers and filmers as legendary as Weaver and Spyder. I loved the Gerry Lopez footage, the mysterious non-existent Island of Santosha (got to see the movie to understand this one), the whole scene, the sad stories of the lost heroes. It's all in there.
"When we first took this project on," said Gregory Schell, "We went to Weaver's house and we were so impressed because he said he had some film for us to work through. So we go over there and we are thinking, ok he has a few rolls of film. Then he takes us to a closet and it's ceiling to floor with tapes all perfectly labeled and we were like 'whoa.' Then he took us to a second closet and we were like 'uh oh, what did we get ourselves into?'"
The directors explained how they had Weaver pick out his favorite films from each era and then they started there. Still it was a labor intensive process that seemed never ending. After Chasing the Lotus the crowd was buzzing about how solid this film was and how interesting it is that there is definitely that theme of Dogtown documentary telling of history in a lot of the films this year.
Klunkerz came next and people raved non-stop about two such perfect films in a row with so much history. Then the last film of the evening was the beautiful new bike porn "Roam" that has a killer soundtrack and a segment in my hometown, Sun Valley, so I was stoked that this finished off the evening. This film definitely represents a new era in bike filming and will be an influence in the next year for sure.
3:00 PM - January 20, 2007
Danny Way and Brian Deegan are pretty much the bomb. If there were ever two athletes I feel stand out in action sports as legends it's these two. I was looking forward to seeing their movies because in both cases these guys have emulated almost super human power in the action sports world and pulled off the seemingly impossible.
In "I am: Danny Way" we were taken through Danny's amazing life history where he started as a pro skateboarder at 14-years-old, made it through the crash of skateboarding in the late 80s and then the rise again in the late 90s with the X Games. We learn about Danny's trials and tribulations like his multiple knee surgeries and a bout with paralysis in the early 90s after a surfing accident and how he recovered.
The best part of the movie by far though is following Danny's progression into Big Air skateboarding, culminating with him jumping the Great Wall of China in 2006. Directed by Jason Bergh, the Danny Way movie definitely gives the viewer a good look into the life of one of the greatest all time skateboarders and inevitably will help cement his spot in the timeline of sports.
After Danny Way's movie we watched "Disposable Hero," directed by Dave Dawes. I had no idea what expect from a Metal Mulisha movie. The well known bad boy of moto, Brian Deegan, founder of the Metal Mulisha has Jim Morrison-esque type of personality where you can tell he was born to be a showman and a rockstar, and you really wonder how long he'll live. In the movie we get an incredibly up close and personal view into Deegan's life from his surgeries, which are beyond graphic (and he goes through a lot of them in the 2 years this movie covers), to his problems with drugs, to his fear about not being on top of his game any more. Deegan tells us in the film that he's making this highly personal film because he wants sponsors and other to start realizing that athletes like himself are not just disposable heroes, hence the title. Toward the end of the movie Deegan let's us know that he's realizing he may have reached the end of his progression and it might be time to stop pushing it, although after watching Deegan for as many years as we all have, you have to wonder if he means what he says because he obviously loves the high of winning X Games medals and being in the spotlight.
After the movie Jason Bergh (who also directed Danny's film) got Deegan on the phone for a Q&A sessions with the audience over the microphone. It was pretty cool to hear Deegan talk about the movie and why he was willing to share such personal details of his life with the world.
10:00 PM - January 19, 2007
Bringing Down the House
We had no idea what to expect with the Lat34 X-Dance opening party with music presented by Burton. We knew one thing for sure: It would be cool. The big question was would people come? At an event like Sundance there’s stuff going on all over the place it’s hard to know who’s going to show at your party.
The final movie of the evening, Burton’s film For Right or Wrong, was packed and afterward everyone was ready to party. Any fears of having a dead party were instantly squashed at 10pm when the doors open. A steady flow of people filled the Sidecar, a lounge-y bar complete with black walls and red lights. DJs Red Car and Sam I Am started off the night. And Kid Millionaire came on by midnight.
As I cruised the party looking for celebs I quickly realized that the one thing about Sundance week is that there’s a whole lot of somebodies lurking around so you just never know who anybody is really. Walking down the street earlier in the day we passed by Billy from Six Feet Under and some other teen show TV actor I recognized but couldn’t name. There was a paprazzi frenzy on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant that I thought would turn into someone, but it turned out to just be a guy from the Apprentice. It’s kind of scary that we’ve become the kind of country where people actually get excited about a reality star. I mean aren’t these just people who are being themselves and want to be on TV so badly that they are willing let someone film every aspect of their life, especially the humiliating moments. But stars aside, the true scene was in the Sidecar by 11pm.
Word on the street that afternoon about the Lat34 X-Dance party was that people were all confirming. There were supposedly over 400 people turned away in the course of the day and the guest list was locked down. It was pretty clear at 10PM when the doors opened that no one was exaggerating about how many people wanted to come to the party. At midnight there was still a full on line.
In side the party started bumping. Djs were spinning, booze was flowing, the vibe was good. I spent the first hour lurking around the Step Up (I think that’s what they called it) hoping some celeb would come up so I could ask them some great Howard Stern-like questions. You know really put them on the spot about action sports. I had little luck until well after midnight though. My victim, Josh Bernstein, the host of Digging for the Truth on the History Channel. I actually didn’t know who he was but remembered my Dad talking about him recently. I went in for the kill.
“So Josh, what are you doing here at the X-Dance party and what do you think of X-Dance?”
“Ummm, I am not sure what X-Dance is. The party seems cool though.”
After explaining what X-Dance was he seemed to get it, but this was definitely one of those parties his publicist must have sent him to so he could get some visibility. He has a new book out, so the more pictures the better. Maybe they thought the X-Dance thing would be a cool alternative market and people there would be into him.
“You should come back and watch some movies.”
“Definitely. I will.”
Random celebs aside, the best thing about the party (other than the open bar) was the view from the porch. Although Park City has been a balmy ten degrees, the view down Main street was great. Bumper to bumper cars, packed streets well after the pumpkin hour of midnight.
All and all day one turned out to be an impressive showing from a packed movie house to the party, seems like X-Dance has entered a new era and people are finally “getting” the action sports thing. Stay tuned for more updates from the film festival and more party photos as we get our Park City groove on.
8:00 PM - January 19th, 2007
The Burton movie was standing room only. A packed house rolled in to see Shaun White, Keir Dillon, Jeremy Jones and more of the Burton A-team huck and charge their way around the world from Russia to Italy.
Jeremy Jones made a rare public appearance, “I kind of hate people,” he told me with a laugh as I interviewed him about his part in the movie. “I wasn’t really that optimistic about how this movie would come out when I first heard about it, but I was really impressed with it in the end. It turned out much better than I imagined it would,” said Jones, the jibbing legend, whose known for always speaking what’s on his mind.
4:00 PM - January 19th, 2007
Park City started off the Lat34 X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival today. The movie launching it off was appropriately Park City’s movie with their all rockstar snowboard team. While the film definitely offered more of the core huck and hang feel, the soundtrack was great, the park sessions definitely gave one the feeling of enjoying this beautiful sunny Olympic mountain. Following the film Brian Wimmer, founder of X-Dance chatted with the director and Park City team (which includes the very lovely and completely ripping Erin Comstock who we will be profiling in a month).
X-Dance has seven years under it’s belt and with a nearly packed house throughout the entire afternoon and evening, it’s clear that this is an event that is now an important part of Sundance. Last year Robert Redford officially sanctioned X-Dance, recognizing that the film world needs a place for action sports films. This year close to 400 films were entered and only 34 chosen. I’m guessing the 34 is because Lat34 is sponsoring the event. Regardless, there’s an amazing collection of top notch films covering everything from snowboarding to surfing to base jumping.
There were two highlights of the opening day films for me personally. First was Shimmer, a film put together by Roxy featuring their top tier female athletes like Lisa Anderson, Kassia Meador, Sofia Mulanovich, and Chelsea Georgeson. Lucky viewers not only got to enjoy 40 minutes of the most beautiful places to surf on the planet, but also a cast of women with incredible surfing skills and beautiful bikini-clad bods to match.
“We created this film because we wanted something girls could just pop in and play to get stoked before they went surfing. But we were also careful to make sure it was really top notch surfing so it could measure up to a guys film,” said six-time world champion surfer Lisa Anderson. The legendary surfer dropped into the chilly town of Park City to help introduce the new film and talk about the creation of it with the audience.
Traveling with her was Kassia Meador, one of the most well known female longboarders in the world. “It’s rare for a shortboard film to featuring such an extensive section on longboarding,” said Meador. “I have had friends tell me it was one of their favorite parts of the movie.”
So what does Shimmer mean anyway? What’s the title all about? Kassia and Lisa explain that the film was a two year project and encompassed over five years of footage. The title was picked because “Shimmer” is that moment when you look across the sea and the sun is backlighting the ocean, everything is sparkling and life is good. “It’s a feeling really. When life is good everything is light and shimmering. I always feel like that when I surf,” said Meador.
Wimmer had fun introducing the girls after the film saying “You both look a little different with your clothes on. And a lot of clothes! Sorry to take you away from the beach.” This got the crowd laughing. It was pretty clear from the first few films that this is going to be a fun weekend filled with some of the most amazing outdoors cinematography capturing the beauty of action sports. More after the Burton movie and the Lat34 party.