Film review: All.I.Can

, October 7, 2011

Stunning droplet shot from the film
Stunning droplet shot from the film

Thursday night saw the London premiere of All.I.Can, a film by Sherpas Cinema and sponsored by numerous adventure brands including Arc’teryx and The North Face. The film has been two years in the making and is now midway through its worldwide tour. Claimed by ESPN to be ‘The  best movie in skiing,’ All.I.Can could be well worth the watch this season.

The film follows 15 of the world’s top freestyle skiers as they travel the globe looking for the perfect run. While precariously avoiding potentially fatal avalanches and swimming through eye-deep powder, athletes are also captured immersing themselves in local culture. The film frequently draws parallels between skiing and human consumption, giving a slightly confused message around environmental responsibility and the enjoyment of nature.

Opening with some powerful imagery of the natural world contrasting with the human, the film immediately positions itself in the climate change debate. This theme crops up throughout the film, although with limited narrative to accompany the images, the message seems somewhat diluted. Indeed, the narrative that does take place is the semi-coherent musings of people far better at skiing than constructing an intelligible argument against the environmental impact of commercialization.  So, while an Inconvenient Truth it is not, a kick-ass nature-porn ski film it certainly is.

The film is cut into “chapters” that each provide a glimpse of remote and extreme freestyle skiing from around the world. There are some wonderful cross cultural references, with children playing with skis in Greenland and Moroccan locals sledging on plastic bags.  The cinematography is mind-blowing, illuminating mountainous beauty from the remotest of places, and showcasing the most incredible time-lapse sequences including ski slopes filling up with snow and forests being harvested for logs.  On top of that, the deliciously eclectic soundtrack made me wish I had Shazam at the ready throughout.

As for the skiing itself, the film is full of white knuckle thrill rides.  James Heim and Mark Abma’s deep powder run to a Boom Boom Satellites track is exhilarating, and some of Kye Petersen’s vertical drops are quite frankly terrifying.  Callum Pettit pulls off one particularly daring line near the end, and the last chapter showing JP Auclair skiing through the town of Rossland, B.C is awesome.  The London audience was cheering and whooping as we watched JP jumping over cars, sliding through alleyways and grazing across tarmac.  The film also had a lighter side to it, with a lovely section shooting elderly skiers steaming through trees, whose advice is simply “ski good or eat wood”.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable ski film, showcasing the best talent in the world, skiing some of the remotest and untouched slopes.  While it lacks a clear environmental message, it does at least attempt one.  The final piece of advice, encouraging us all “to do more instead of less” is certainly true, even if we are left to our own initiative to work out what it is we are supposed to be doing.

All.I.Can DVD available for pre-order