On Thursday night I was lucky enough to attend the London premiere of Nike Snowboarding’s eagerly awaited, first full length snowboarding film, Never Not.
I’d been in two minds about whether to make the journey down from Edinburgh for what would have to be a brief 24 hour trip, but as I’m a sucker for a media event and managed to get a cheap plane ticket, I couldn’t resist.
Nike had been kind enough to offer me a pair of VIP tickets so Dan and I headed along to the Soho Curzon Picture House for pre-movie drinks and canapés with a small gathering of usual suspects from the UK snowboard industry and stars of the show: Gigi Rüff, Ethan Morgan and Jamie Nicholls.
As Nike had released Part 1 online for a 24 hour period a couple of days previously, closely followed by Part 2 on iTunes, I’d already seen both films, several times, but this just made me even more excited about seeing it on the big screen. My excitement was warranted, as the film that had wowed me on the small screen of my laptop reached new levels of epicness on the big screen.
First up we were treated to Part 2, which was introduced by Ethan Morgan as being a film about what it is the be a snowboarder, rather than merely a behind the scenes documentary. In many ways Part 2 is a more powerful film than the high-octane show reel that is Part 1. It focuses on the highs and lows experienced by very different riders as they strive to achieve the ultimate run, shot, or simply sense of stoke. The film has four sections: Adaptation, Ambition, Exploration and Celebration, which focus on street riding, competitions, freeriding, and what it all means to the riders, respectively.
It also offers an insight into the rider’s personalities, backgrounds and varying motivations. However, whether raised on urban rails or deep in the mountains, whether they thrive on competition or prefer the challenge of choosing their own spots to ride, they all share the same passion and determination to push themselves to their absolute limits in order to nail the trick, in spite of countless slams, broken boards and bones.
After a short interval to grab another drink and some popcorn, we headed back in for the main feature, which was preceded by the first showing of Jamie Nicholls’ awesome 12/13 online part, which received a rapturous applause from the audience. Although Jamie doesn’t have a part in Never Not, he’s a highly esteemed member of the Nike Snowboarding team, and this technically brilliant edit demonstrates exactly why.
Never Not Part 1 is 32 minutes of beautifully filmed, jaw dropping action, which leaves you longing for your next powder day, and the ability to be able to ride just a fraction as well as these guys. The film manages to strike the perfect balance between epic free riding and awe-inspiring street riding, set in locations as diverse as the peaks of Alaska and the streets of Moscow.
The freeride parts come courtesy of Manuel Diaz, Nicolas Müller, Austin Smith and Gigi Rüf, with highlights including Nicolas Müller bouncing through powder stashes on his “daily commute”, Gigi gliding down near-vertical precipices with the grace of an eagle, and the heart stopping moment when Manuel Diaz rides out an avalanche.
Jed Anderson, Ethan Morgan, Sage Kotensburg, Justin Bennee and Jess Kimura take street riding to another level with an array of tricks so good that the soundtrack to their sections were accompanied by endless whoops and gasps from the audience. Jed Anderson provides one of the most consistently good parts, making light work of some sweet urban spots in his hometown of Calgary, but it’s Halldor Helgason who steals the show with one crazy stunt after another, all culminating in THAT backflip.
But it’s not all rails and wall rides for the “street riders” as we see Halldor, Jed and Ethan looking just as at home throwing massive airs off backcountry kickers, disproving that old adage that you can take the boy out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the boy.
It’s hard to fault a film that showcases such an overwhelmingly high standard of riding throughout, and my only criticism would be that it is perhaps a little disjointed at times. That and the relentless gratuitous boot-fastening shots, which is disappointing from Nike, who are usually a lot more subtle about crowbarring their logo into every shot. But, if the whole is equal to the sum of its parts, with parts this good, the film cannot be deemed to be anything short of awesome.
As we reflected on the film’s stand out moments over a few drinks at the after party it became apparent that there were way too many to list, all of which are just as impressive after several viewings, if not even more so.
Almost exactly 24 hours after I’d touched down at Stansted Airport we were setting off on what would turn out be an 11 hour drive back up north. Was it worth the trip? Absolutely.
Massive thanks to Nike Snowboarding for not only producing an incredible snowboarding movie, but for inviting me along to celebrate its launch in style.
Over to you…
Have you seen it? What did you think?