Fall is here, the mountains are dusted with new snow, and skiers’ spirits are rising by the day. Yes, it’s high time for the latest edition of Europe’s premiere ski film gathering: The HIGH FIVE FESTIVAL. Here’s what you need to know to rock Annecy in style this weekend.
Now in its 12th year, the High Five Festival is the go-to place to mingle with skiing’s elite, party until the cows come home, and of course, overdose on this year’s crop of ski movies.
This year, in addition the highlights we’ve grown to know and love, High Five has undergone an transition to what it calls a “four-season” approach. Besides the usual crop of ski and snowboard films, the festival also includes videos from other sports: Mountain biking, climbing, paragliding, trail running, skateboarding and wakeboarding are all joining in on the fun.
As always, a seemingly endless program of movie screenings in Annecy’s Cinema Pathé forms the heart of the High Five Festival. From Friday afternoon until Sunday night, you can feast your eyes on everything from rough-and-tumble am projects to marquee blockbusters from the best in the business.
The movie screenings are split up into 11 different sessions, each one lasting around 3 hours. Instead of buying one ticket for the whole festival, you need to buy a ticket (€12) for each individual screening. Buy your tickets here.
Which movies to watch? Well, that depends on your own preferences—skier or snowboarder, freeride or freestyle, homies or mega-pros. For us at Downdays, we’re looking forward to the new crew movies from Forre (Séance 1), Buldoz (Séance 3), and The Bunch (Séance 4).
For longer movies, there’s new goods from Blank Collective Films (Séance 5), Coline Ballet-Baz (Séance 6), Matchstick Productions’ world premiere of “Anywhere From Here” (Séance 7), “Nexus” from an all-women’s crew (Séance 10) and “Magic Hour” from Teton Gravity Research (Séance 11).
Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg of all that High Five has on tap. Click here for the full film festival screening schedule.
There’s a lot more to High Five than the movie screenings. The outdoor part of the festival, High Five World, has expanded to take over Annecy’s spacious lakeside park, Le Pâquier. For an entry fee of €5 (which is included with any cinema screening ticket) you can peruse the brand village, skateboard, slackline, rock climb, and watch even more movies on the Oakley outdoor screen (including our very own movie from the Gaptastic Voyage at 13:20 on Saturday—see you there!).
Stroll a bit further down Annecy’s picturesque lakefront, and you can take in concerts at the High Five Music Festival (see the schedule here), grab a bite to eat at the High Five Street Food Festival, and participate in various workshops, masterclasses and special events (aka High FIve OFF) inside the regal L’Imperial conference center (full program here).
If you’re looking to party, this is also where you’ll head on Friday and Saturday nights, where the Pop Plage club will keep the vibe high into the early hours of the morning.
With so much going on over three days, it’s easy to get stretched thin. Here are a few tips gleaned from years of experience at High Five.
MODERATE YOUR MOVIES: As anyone who’s been to High Five before can tell you, moderation is the name of the game. Spending six straight hours in the cinema staring at the big screen is bound to burn you out early. Don’t do two sessions in a row, and two sessions per day is plenty.
GET THERE EARLY: Since the crowds are way more than could fit into one room, each screening is actually spread out over several different theatres in Cinema Pathé. If you want to get into the “main” cinema to see filmmakers introduce their projects in person (rather than watching via camera feed), you’d better get in line early. Like, at least an hour early.
BRING WHEELS: It takes about half an hour to walk from Cinema Pathé to the festival grounds on the lakefront. If you do laps back and forth, you’re bound to get tired of walking. It’s nice to have some wheels on hand: a skateboard, scooter or bike. If you can get your hands on one of Annecy's rentable e-scooters, (they’re in high demand during the festival) they're a great, though pricey option.
GO CASHLESS. Like many other festivals these days, High Five is cashless: You need to charge up your wristband with funds to get drinks at the bar and grab a bite to eat at the food trucks. Make sure to load up your wristband beforehand, or as soon as you’re onsite, to prevent going hungry later.
Make time. With so much going on, it's easy to spend the weekend running from one event to the next. Give yourself plenty of time to just chill, meet with friends, wander through Annecy's beautiful downtown or stroll along the lake. You're bound to bump into old friends and make some new ones along the way.