6 Ski Films to Stream Now. 

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Vancouver International Mountain Festival
Photo: RyanCollins

Vancouver’s mountain film fest is online only until December 10

The Vancouver International Mountain Festival (VIMFF) has gone virtual. From now until December 10th, Ski Canada readers can stream many of the films that were featured in Vancouver theatres in mid-November—almost half of which are about skiing or sliding on snow. 

Top Choice:

BC legends Paul Morrison & Mike Douglas 

Many VIMFF gems are fewer than 10 minutes long. In CoWorkers, legendary Whistler photographer and Ski Canada contributor Paul Morrison teams up with son Ian for six minutes of soulful pow slaying. Morrison pere et fils are men of few words; and some of Morrison’s best images from Whistler’s golden age are prominently displayed. Cinematographer/producer Jeff Thomas—a guy who seems to be everywhere these days—captures son Ian ripping through Whistler’s glades at maximum speed.

If the Festival had a ‘deepest pow’ award, then it would surely go to Mike Douglas’s superb Hankin Evolution. A decade ago, volunteers from B.C.’s Bulkley Valley and the provincial government came together to create a 100-percent free “backcountry recreation ski area” — essentially, cut ski trails without any lifts — which is perhaps the most unique one in North America. Douglas’s long-standing support from SalomonTV has enabled him to make some of the most consistently interesting and award-winning ski documentaries of all time.  

Fearless Females & Courageous LBGTQ2A

Anna Segal is a freestyle skier who took a year off to make 23.4 Degrees, a documentary about battling the gray, depressing mood that overtook her when she moved from her native Australia to British Columbia’s Pemberton Valley—where even on sunny days, the mountains cast ominous shadows over the town. Segal—who placed fourth in mogul skiing at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, is probably one of the most fearless and aggressive female big mountain skiers out there today. 

The most courageous film of the entire lot actually has nothing to do whatsoever with negotiating serious avalanche hazards nor ultra-steep extreme skiing terrain. People Like Us explores the lives of several LBGTQ2A persons living in a variety of mountain towns across North America. Most endured the trauma of bullying when they were younger but have come to terms with their new, often fluid, identities and have worked extremely hard to encourage others undergoing the same challenges. People Like Us is a movie that demands true empathy and shines a hot spotlight on the macho, heteronormative culture that flourishes in action sports culture.

Following the Footsteps of a CMH Pioneer

Though it bears the imprint of Sherpas Cinema, makers of award-winning films like All.I.Can. and Into The Mind, there isn’t any skiing in Yamnuska: The Ragged Edge. But there there are many heartwarming stories told by Leo Grillmair, the Austrian mountaineer/backcountry skier who co-founded Canadian Mountain Holidays with Hans Gmoser in the early 1960s. 

Yamnusaka is a prominent prow-shaped peak that juts out of the Bow River valley just west of Calgary, and despite its crumbly, fragile limestone rock (known as “choss”) it has drawn highly experienced climbers from all over the world. Using fabulous archival footage from the 1960s and ‘70s and high-definition drone shots, the film tracks some of Canada’s top contemporary climbers following the footsteps of the pioneer.

Millions of words have been spilled out in the world’s printing presses and on innumerable websites about the profundity of the wilderness experience—the grandeur of the mountains, the majestic summits, the agony and ecstasy of conquest. Still, as retired Coast Range mountaineer Don Serl says in the National Geographic-worthy Shaped by Wild, the language and images which abound in these wonderfully realized documentaries are “not the real thing. The real thing is out there in the hills, isn’t it?”

Which is what you’ll really want to do upon being inspired by the stories told in this month-long streaming adventure. 

Here’s the link to watch the VIMFF online festival; movies are available from now until December 10th: https://watch.vimff.org/ 

Steven Threndyle
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