Aspen, CO – Ski and snowboard filmgoers will gather this weekend in Aspen’s Wheeler Opera House and at the IF3 International Freeski Film Festival in Montreal to witness Signatures, the sophomore effort from Colorado-based filmmakers Sweetgrass Productions that brings a new artistic flair to the ski film genre.
With stunning, ethereal cinematography and a folk and roots rock soundtrack, Signatures eschews the brash, in-your-face terrain park antics and hip hop sound embraced by many of today’s ski filmmakers. It’s more mature. Even the storyline is unique, filmed entirely throughout a season in Niseko, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Forrest Coots rips a line in Niseko in this scene from Signatures, the new ski film from Colorado’s Sweetgrass Productions.
We enjoyed the luxury of advance screening the film, which features athletes on alpine skis, telemark skis, snowboards and even “noboards,” exhibiting breathtaking athletic prowess on snowboards without bindings. Signatures follows Niseko athletes Atsushi Gomyo, Taro Tamai and Yoichi Watanabe as they ski, ride, and even surf and fly fish to capture the best of each season in Niseko.
The viewer is drawn into the sub-alpine forests of Hokkaido as the three, along with such Stateside ski film stars as Will Cardamone, Nick Devore, Forrest Coots, Jacqui Edgerly, Jess McMillan, Marie-Claude Larivée and many others shred deep Japanese powder through the island’s uniquely twisted trees, and above treeline under the rising sun. In between, those enjoying the film are treated to scenes of handcrafting snowboards, local culture and profound wisdom from the film’s protagonists.
Throughout, the cinematography is seductive, showcasing Hokkaido’s prodigious snowfall from unique angles through the lens of Jan Hock, Ben Sturgulewski and Nick Waggoner, always engaging the viewer and adding color to a largely colorless winter landscape. The soundtrack, featuring music from Jon Swift, The You, Elliott Brood and others, merely enhances, rather than detracts from the visual experience.
The film’s closing quote, spoken by Tamai in Japanese and subtitled, effectively sums up the movie’s message:
My grandpa was a fisherman and a hunter. Through fishing, he taught me, ‘Taro, in Japan we fish seasons not just fish.’ And he meant that fishing is all about nature and its season. The seasons bring out completely different faces of nature, and we have to take advantage of that. You don’t go after black bass all year long; you catch fish that are in season. I can say the same about snowboarding and surfing. And so, powder snow is only a part of the whole experience.
After this weekend, Signatures will tour the U.S., Canada and Japan. For tour dates or to order a DVD, visit www.sweetgrass-productions.com.
Watch the video trailer: