The second annual X-Dance 2002 Action Sports Film and Video Game Festival, presented by DC Shoes from January 12-15th in Park City, Utah, showcased over 40 of this year’s top action sports films and video games. Running concurrently with the Sundance Film Festival, X-Dance was a magnet for icons from the extreme sports world, cutting edge musicians and Hollywood celebrities alike. With panels and screenings consistently filled to capacity, mind-blowing opening and closing parties, and an awards ceremony hosted by pro skater Jason Ellis that raised the roof, X-Dance signaled once again it has a sizzling hot commodity on its hands.
While the other ‘Dance’ film festivals were hit hard this year by all-time attendance lows, X-Dance seemed nearly invincible, pulling in a healthy mix of Gen X and Y adrenaline junkies, as well as film industry-types hoping to discover a hotbed of talent. X-Dance delivered it in spades. Where music videos and commercials in years past might have been the breeding ground for cinematic talent, the action sports world stands as a major, untapped source, on both sides of the camera. No other event on earth harnesses all the creative energy of adrenaline culture and brings it all together under one roof like X-Dance.
Actress Juliette Lewis and husband/pro skater Steve Berra presented top festival honors to Taylor Steele and Chris Malloy for their soulful, mesmerizing film, SHELTER. Featuring high-performance surfing action from the best surfers in the world, SHELTER evokes the most sublime aspects of the surfing experience, strongly conveying a sense of community within the surfing world as it reveals each surfer’s poignant, personal communion with nature. While aspects of SHELTER are indeed reminiscent of the ‘best of the best’ surfing films of the past, it is a thoroughly modern tour de force. Technically flawless, SHELTER also garnered awards for editing and cinematography. Steele’s prolific production house, Poor Specimen, had a number of nominations for two other films, the equally soulful skate film HALLOWED GROUND, directed by Scott Soens, and the adrenaline-fueled MOMENTUM: UNDER THE INFLUENCE, directed by Matt Beauchesne.
The Best Video Game Award went to Atari’s TRANSWORLD SURF, developed by Angel Studios, narrowly upsetting Activision’s TONY HAWK PRO SKATER III, itself developed by Neversoft (the latter garnered the Best Music in a Video Game Award). It’s no secret that action sports video games are the most popular gaming properties, but the long lines to play and the wealth of spectators proved that the interactive component was a huge hit this year at X-Dance.
Best Story and Best Stunt went to Blue Field Entertainment’s LAIRD, starring the death-defying superman Laird Hamilton, and produced by Bobby Williams, Jane Kachmer, and Hamilton, himself. What this mortal has managed to do on a surfboard boggles the mind, but when he pulled into the deadliest wave ever surfed at Teahapoo (pronounced CHO-PU) in Tahiti, he rewrote history entirely. When footage of the wave, which would have simply atomized him if he fell, was replayed at the awards ceremony, 1200 jaws dropped to the floor, and fell silent, in awe. There wasn’t a doubt in the house when a fellow surfer suggested, “There was a line drawn in the sand that day, as to what is humanly possible, and there are only two footprints on the other side… Laird’s.”
Best Stunt Film went to Peak Production’s SLEDNECKS, directed and produced by Erik Voake and Jason Moriarty. Start to finish, hair-raising snowmobile action, the well-produced SLEDNECKS features a host of insane cliff jumps and road gaps, as well as Jim Rippey’s unbelievable backflip on a snowmobile.
Teton Gravity Research’s rocket-fueled ski/snowboard film, MIND THE ADDICTION, was awarded Best Music in a Film. TGR set an eclectic mix of cutting edge music and well-chosen classics, from the likes of Outkast, Dub Pistols, Uberzone, Zebrahead, and Metallica, to gripping stories and stunningly beautiful images. Teton Gravity Research had another excellent film nominated in the competition, as well, GONDWANA, which marks their breakout into surf films.
For the Closing Party/Awards Ceremony, world renowned video performance artist Vello Virkhaus transformed the enormous room at Harry O’s into a mesmerizing, wall-to-wall montage of action sports film projections from the film festival. Pro Skateboarding star Jason Ellis emceed, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. On the music front, Pretzel of Energy, a slamming techno outfit from Los Angeles’ vibrant rave culture, opened up the night. Next up was Jive recording artists and hard-charging punks, Bowling For Soup. Two-step junglist DJ Wish FM of La Belle époque Musique led the crowd into the awards ceremony, which was followed by zany Los Angeles punk rockers Goldfinger, also on Jive. While they were indeed a crowd favorite, the FBI is currently investigating the band for obscenity, due to the provocative nature of their set. If asked, you didn’t see anything. Tre, formerly of the Pharcyde, and his nine-piece ensemble deftly maneuvered the crowd into soulful hip-hop, and, finally, Kinetic recording artists Deepsky closed the night with hard, techno trance. The webcast will once again be presented on AOL/Warner Brothers Online, which will also feature clips from the award-winning films and video games.
A couple of other standouts during the festival included DJs Ezra & Akiko, along with the Beat Junkies, playing the Opening Party at Club Creation, which also featured the video wizardry of VJ Vello Virkhaus. The party was off the hook, setting the tone for the rest of the festival. Later in the week, a panel on the state of action sports films and video games featured director/producer Taylor Steele from Poor Specimen; director/producer Dirk Collins from Teton Gravity Research; legendary extreme skiers Scot Schmidt and Jeremy Nobis; music licensing expert Gerry Cueller from Go Big Entertainment, Erik St. Anthony from Trinidad Distribution; X-Dance Film Festival Director Brian Wimmer; along with sports journalist Bill Kerig who moderated the panel.
X-Dance, the ultimate celebration of actions sports culture, film music and video games, has broken ground and is paving the way for the future. X-Dance 2003 is sure to blow your mind.
For more info on what you missed, visit the X-Dance web site.
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