When: Sat 20th of October 2007
Where: Munich, Germany
Well then. After the Augsburg rail contest Melanie, her little bro Merlin and I ragged it back to Munich to take in the brothers Benedek and Christoph Weber-Thoresen's latest adventure in snowboard cinema, In Short. Except we didn't. Some gong farmers had closed the road back to the Bavarian capital so we had to snail-pace a detour that made us fear we'd miss the film. Fortunately Mel's got a heavy right foot and, slightly stressed, we arrived in time to collect our tickets.
Being that this was their first full-length movie since 91 Words For Snow 2 seasons ago (although they did release the excellent GAP Session documentary last year), and it was being held in the boys' hometown of Munich, we arrived to find literally hundreds of snowboarding's cognoscenti clamouring to get to the little white table staffed by Mini Karpf and Sani Alibabic. There was no doubt that this was the 'hottest ticket in town', as those who write reviews of musicals are wont to utter. It was pretty much a shit-fight to collect our tickets off the boys, but collect them we did. Only to find that no one checked them. Oh, sweet irony. I am forever your bitch.
So, to the film. The cinema was full and David, Boris and Christoph took to the stage accompanied by a couple of the featured riders - namely Christophe Schmidt and Sani. With the help of my girlfriend I understood some of what David was saying: namely, "I promise that we're way better at making films than we are at organising movie premieres." Hey, Dave. No stress - it was a sick location and everyone got in in the end. Had it been in England it'd have been all good as we like nothing better than a good queue...
Anyway, David was spot on: these guys certainly know how to make a cracking snowboard movie. As the title hints at, In Short is actually a collection of 5 short movies. The intro 'Tree Riding' is a Lord of War-inspired sequence that follows the creation of a snowboard from the felling of the tree to Sani Alibabic taking it out the box and strapping it to his feet. It must be said that Sani has got some banging footage in this film. Frontside 10, Cab 10 backside 9, frontside 3 one-foot... all over one of those crazy Blank Paper-type booters mixed in with some fun shreddery.
'Something's Missing' is next up and follows two UK riders, Colum Mytton and Jamie Nicholls, getting wicked on the bristled artificial snow slope in Halifax. The concept of dryslope riding may be alien to the more fortunate European riders, but these boys show that even though something’s missing it’s still possible to throw down the hammers in what must be one of the most beautifully odd locations in a popular snowboard film.
Japan is the subject of the third film, 'Home / Tourists', as the life of a local guy who lives in his van is mixed in with the arrival of Benedek, Mikey LeBlanc and Eric Messier. It’s all pretty deep and spiritual until the ‘consummate professionals’ turn up. Cue pillow riding, screwing around and epic snow. LeBlanc’s song about Eric-San and his Japanese adventures is most amusing, as is Eric’s enthusiastic – and sleepy - approach to the trip.
'Zeitmachine' follows the season as a series of stunning time-lapse photography shot by Christoph Weber-Thoresen interlaced with riding from Markus Keller, Christophe Schmidt and the boys. Schimidt shows off some mad style in the backcountry with his weird, off axis backside 7s and 9s and Keller is solid as ever. Benedek puts the double cork down on a beast in the Pyrennees that the others take to pieces too.
The final movie is the longest, dubbed 'Alaskan Vaction' and sees Benedek and Christoph hook up with AK veteran Mikey Basich and filmer Jake Price to go camping way out back in Alaska. There's some tasty lines drawn here, a couple of kicker shots and Weber gets super lucky with an avalanche, all interspersed with documentary footage of the frankly pretty gnarly experience.
What all the text above fails to mention is what for me was the highlight of the film. I've just banged on about the snowboarding as if this was the same as all the other snowboard flicks. It's not. For me, In Short is less about the riding and more about the experience we all know as snowboarding, documented from several perspectives. Snowboarding is more than the act of strapping a board to your feet and sliding down a snowy hill. Be it the two-headed beast that is travelling, living in a car to get that first chair, hooking up a buddy trip to the outback with a snowmobile full of beer, or the stoke of getting that new board. Even though most of the riding is cutting edge and out of the reach of the mere mortals, the vibe is one to which anybody who calls themselves a snowboarder can relate. Far from being your blow-by-blow snowboard porno, or even cutting in some behind-the-scenes meriment and faux-funnery, In Short captures riding as it is and how it should be. Someone wrote a review about this film giving them a “fuzzy feeling" and I don’t think I can sum it up better. So I won’t.
Make sure you check this out. More info and fun stuff on the Blank Paper website.