The insider's guide to this season's best all girl shred films.
Words: Gemma Freeman
See What I See – by Runway Films
Why this film kicks ass: From rider-born Runway Films, See What I See, the follow up to 2007's La La Land, is a unique piece of snowboard cinema, which showcases the most progressive women's riding on the planet. Filmed in HD and Super 8, the influential crew charge across the globe, from gnarly backcountry steeps to behemoth park booters, and stylish powder slashes to ridiculously technical rails. This is
the best ladies shred flick ever.
Who it stars: This issue’s cover girl Anne-Flore Marxer, plus Leanne Pelosi, Alexis Waite, Cheryl Maas, Desiree Melancon, Erin Comstock, Hana Beaman, Kjersti Buass, Jacqui Berg, Jamie Anderson, Laura Hadar, Kimmy Fasani, Marie-France Roy, Natasza Zurek, Victoria Jealouse, Raewyn Reid and more.
Best location: After an epic snowfall, most of the film is shot in North America. Natasza Zurek fell for Nelson, BC big time, "I had this big dream to ride there, with high expectations. Then, when I finally got the chance, it was epic and the snow conditions were amazing." With perfect, but icy, parks, Erin Comstock's favourite was Finland, "I learnt so many tricks riding their small slopes with fast t-bars!"
Best trick: Rookie Raewyn manages a super technical backside switch up on to a rail, while super-positive newcomer Kimmy Fasani lands a huge backside three over the DC Mountain Lab road gap.
Watch out for: Natasza dropping a giant pillow in the BC backcountry and Leanne hitting some enormous gap jumps in Whistler, as a face avalanches behind her: "It looked like a huge waterfall, except that it was slush snow," she says. "It was epic to be there. I felt like I was on the Discovery Channel."
Pro views: Women's backcountry freestyle is progressing exponentially right now, so it's not surprising that many riders such as Natasza focused on this. "I made sure to ride out on my sled a lot and build a lot of jumps," she says. "I also learnt to trust my knowledge and intuition more, so I'd pick off lines or jumps and be the first one to try it." Fun is high priority too. “I love having something to achieve during my winter," says Erin. “Contests are so unpredictable and uncreative, so being able to express myself through filming makes me feel very accomplished in my snowboarding career!"
"I really enjoyed the crew I filmed with. Every year I learn so much from these girls," says fellow Roxy rider Kjersti. "We built this hip in Utah, and it ended up working out really fun." "I could not have spent my winter better that going spot to spot with the Runway crew," says Raewyn. "Everyone spends lots of time together throughout the season so you develop some really close friendships. There's pressure to do well but it's positive."
But it's not all smiles and stoke; "The toughest thing is being stuck in a situation that you don’t want to be in," admits Erin. "Flying to a country and finding the weather is not cooperating, having someone on the trip that is negative, or trying to land a trick that you can picture perfectly but it won't stick for you." "When you put all your effort, heart, time, energy, and money into filming out in the backcountry and you come back that day with no shot is so hard," adds Natasza. "Especially when you get too many days like that in a row."
Director’s views:Whistler local Leanne is the brains behind Runway, set up with filmer Jeff Keenan post MissChief: "I want to show strong female riding, from the best of the best. That's It."
Uniquely - by Oakley
Why this film kicks ass: The first women's only surf, skate, snow and wake film, Uniquely is a beautifully shot, HD masterpiece, directed by John Roderick of Float fame, with motion graphics by Chris Hewitt (aka DSTRUKT). Shot with RED, an advanced new camera technology developed by Oakley, the riding is cutting edge too.
Who it stars: Snowboarders: Anne-Flore Marxer, Gretchen Bleiler, Marie-France Roy, Angeli Vanallen, Elena Hight and Chanelle Sladics. Wakeboarder: Amber Wing. Skiers: Grete Eliassen, Kristi Leskinen and Etsuko Tominaga. Skaters LynZ Adam Hawkins and Lauren Perkins. Surfers: Claudia Goncales, Karina Petroni, Layne Beachley and Leilani Gryde.
Best location: The nipple-deep powder of Krasnaya Polyana comes top for snow: "Russia was so different and interesting," explains Marie-France. "I'm blessed that I was able to experience that because of snowboarding."
Best trick: Gretchen Bleiler's trademark crippler (an inverted 540 degree spin) in the Aspen pipe or Marie-France Roy's huge 720 spins on the Keystone kickers. “This film is really about Gretchen," explains John. “She's never taken time out of contests to film, and she took a whole season off to explore and concentrate on this project instead. I know she learnt a lot from this film and is easily the star."
Watch out for: Intense action, there's also stunning scenery – including a helicopter trip on Australia's Gold Coast, a surprise from Oakley, for the girls at the end of the surf schedule. “It was pretty magical," remembers John. “We dropped the girls off, then Russ Heninngs, the Oakley photographer, and I, jumped in a smaller helicopter just as the sun set. It was crazy – we saw dolphins and flew over the line up, to capture the purest sunset ever as the kids below were all waving their hands."
Pro views: Gretchen’s funniest moment was in Japan, “Jamie threw my backpack from up on top of a cliff and it got caught on a tree branch on its way down. It was the first bluebird day we’d had in a long time and we spent about an hour getting it down. The trees in Japan are said to be sacred and also are a place where spirits live. I'd have to agree now!
There was some cheeky humour going on in Japan too, "Me and Chanelle bought this fresh octopus to prank people by putting it in their bed or toilet," says Marie-France. "But we forgot about it in my suitcase and it stunk bad. We were wondering why our room smelled like fart the whole time!"
"When we went to the Black Sea, I asked an old Russian woman if I could take a picture with her..," explains Anne Flore. "She said yes and grabbed my boob as I was taking the pic!"
Constant travel may sound like a dream, but it can be difficult: "On the road, it can be tiring," says Marie-France. "Plus, with so many people, you need good communication and patience to make everything work smoothly."
Director’s views: With Oakley's print ad campaign the starting point, Uniquely aims to inspire women who aspire to live these lifestyles – and travel themselves. John explains: “We wanted to show the attainability of this. It's not just for pros. We had this concept for a Holga camera to move from crew to crew, plus a lifestyle travel log, calendar, images and photos animated in the motion graphics. With thick imagery and strong filming it'll stand out more than any other female film."
Why this film kicks ass: The first ever all-female snowboard movie made in Finland, Shotgun! began life in the spring of 2007 as a tight crew of ten riders, called Hotgirls 89, realised a long held dream when they met filmers Olli Koivula and Osku Petteri. Freestyle-heavy, the majority was filmed in their home resort of Ruka, Finland, but the ladies also hit Stryn and Folgefonna, Norway; Mayrhofen, Austria; Laax, Switzerland; and Åre, Sweden.
Who it stars: Sanna Niilola, Saana Pehkonen, Noora Vihervaara, Anni Kuortti, Hanne Kauko, Veera Vihervaara, Meri Peltonen and Hanna Laukkanen.
Best location: Europe-based, the ladies lucked out in Laax with epic powder, park and pipe sessions. “Laax was pretty good after the European Open," explains rider Meri. “It snowed and we got fresh powder three times while we were there! Great."
Best trick: Meri Peltonen jumping a tractor one-footed or Anni Kuortti hitting some sick street rails.
Watch out for: Some nasty slams: “We all had our share of scary stacks, but definitely one of the craziest is Anni Kuortti's rock to fakie try on a skate ramp," laughs Meri. “She had too much speed, went over the top and through the glass window of this indoor skatehall."
Pro views: The key to a good shred flick? Be flexible: “The weather wasn't always our friend, and so we'd spend days waiting to shoot kickers," says Saan. “But because of that we have lots of different material – wall rides, jibbing a chimney and more. And it was more fun than riding the park all day long. Also, I had a list of what I wanted to get on film. Not all of them happened, but so much more did, that I wasn't even thinking of!"
For more sick female snowboarding check these girl's sections in the following movies this season:
Ready by Absinthe films
Annie Boulanger shreds some incredible powder with the ground-breaking crew, from Alaska to Avoriaz, next to Nicolas Mueller, Gigi Ruff, Wolfgang Nyelt and Kevin Pearce.
No Correct Way by Rome SDS
Marie-France Roy's riding was phenomenal in 2007's Any Means. So, expect the follow up, No Correct Way, to be even more intense. With Bjorn Leines, Marius Otterstrad and LNP.
Aesthetica by Standard Films
Priscilla Levac proves her legendary backcountry and freestyle skills, alongside huge hitters Chas Guldemond, Matthieu Crepel and Torstein Horgmo.
WhiteEver by La Famiglia
Distributed free with Playboard, Liza Filzmoser and a crew of Austrian guys head to Lake Tahoe, California, for street rails, sunshine and epic snow.
Northern Scrapbook Project
An EU-funded documentary, Scrapbook follows the Finnish scene across the globe, including the world's finest such as Antti Autti, Markku Koski, Peetu Piiroinen and Shotgun star Meri Peltonen.