By: Ethan Stone October 08, 2018
All images courtesy of High Five Festival / Like That Agency
Packed cinema at High Five Festival

The streets of Annecy clattered with skateboards and thronged with baggy hoodies last weekend, as the High Five Festival took over town for its annual festivus of ski-movie premieres, parties, distractions and diversions of all kinds.

Situated on the beautiful shores of Lake Annecy, not far from some of the best skiing in the French Alps, Annecy is a skiers' town that for the past nine years has played host to a skiers' festival. From October 5-7, High Five took over Annecy’s cavernous Cinema Pathé for three days of nearly non-stop film sessions. Meanwhile at the Imperial Casino, a short lakeside stroll away, a host of other attractions—from a big-air airbag open to the public, trampolines, to a teeming brand village—brought in visitors by the thousands to get stoked for the coming winter season, and maybe grab an autographed poster from their favorite skier.

High Five: a one-to-one ratio of visitors and Dakine backpacks.

Leo Taillefer and the Zabardast crew went on a wild expedition to the Himalayas last season in pursuit of a dream.

Over its nine years of existence, High Five has grown into a lot more than just a ski-film festival. This year, the event marketed itself as a ski film festival, mais pas que—"but not only"—and included events as diverse as: a Playboy party, standup comedy acts, a “University” with photography, video, digital and “Influenceur” classes, a networking soiree for regional business, a food-truck court, a brand village, a zip line off an upper-level balcony of a casino, a big-air airbag open to the public, trampolines, slacklines, and all manner of other things to bounce off or climb on…

Big Air Bag at High Five Festival

While there was no on-snow event at High Five this year, the open-to-the-public airbag jump provided a unique opportunities for the skiing youth to get in on the action.

Andri Ragettli assembled one of his viral-video parkour setups for the public to try out.

Shake dem dreads!

Yet still, even if the High Five Festival is “not only” just a ski-film festival anymore, the ski movies are still without doubt the event’s beating heart. Three long-winded days and nights of ski films awaited the skiing public—something over 60 films in all, across the spectrum from local amateur edits to big-name international productions.

Level 1 Productions led off the headline screenings on Friday night with its European premiere of their new film Zig Zag, followed by Teton Gravity Research’s Far Out on Saturday and All In from Matchstick Productions on Sunday. But many of the cinematic highlights of the weekend came from athlete projects and smaller productions—most notably, the three-punch trio of movies from Phil Casabon, Henrik Harlaut and Tanner Hall.

Inspired fam at High Five Festival

Phil Casabon, Henrik Harlaut, Emil Granoo, Tanner Hall and Noah Albaladejo, basking in the glow.

Both Casabon and Harlaut, High Five’s literal poster boys, presented individual projects. Casabon collabed with Brady Perron to create a soulful, brilliantly shot and edited short film, En Particulier/In Particular, which follows tight on B-Dog’s heels through a season of street-based hard-knocks skiing that produced not only an X Games Real Street gold medal, but much more importantly, this modern masterpiece of street skiing.

Meanwhile, Harlaut debuted his much-awaited two-year project, The Regiment. In contrast to what we’ve seen from Henrik so far, this film is less base-thumping, heavy-hitting ski-edit glory, though it certainly has more than its share of absolutely insane shots. With lots of interviews, it's more of a legacy-cementing biopic of The Skier, The Man Henrik Harlaut, with a more in-depth look into Henrik’s personal motivations than we’ve seen before—a look under the hood to see what drives this skiing machine.

Henrik Harlaut.

Following B-Dog and E-Dollo’s films, the Ski Boss himself Tanner Hall stole the show with his 2018 movie, Here After. By now, we’ve grown used to Tanner dropping an often loose-but-lit seasonal project, as reliably as the seasons themselves, for most of the past two decades. Here After is his best movie in recent memory; not just because of the entertaining, off-kilter narration that channels The Big Lebowski, but because of the freakish ski talent of Hall himself, who seems to somehow never stop getting better. Ski Boss is most certainly on one in this film—delivering some of the standout moments from the whole weekend, including a backcountry triple that has to be seen to be believed, and quite possibly the best urban shot of the season.

Other highlights included the dramatic return of Jeremy Pancras, who after breaking his back during the Big Air at the festival last year, staged a strong comeback with a reflective film project called Would You, featuring the skiing of some of Jeremy’s talented friends from around the globe like Torin Yater-Wallace and Jake Carney. The Picture Organic project Zabardast, a madcap adventure to ski a mind-boggling peak in Pakistan, received rave reviews. Further recommendable entertainment included a new Hugo Burvall/Emil Granbom SLVSH game, aka “El Classico,” Robin Gillon’s The Sound of Silence, full movies from Kimbo Sessions and the Zermatt Glacier Days crew… the list goes on.

A pair of top-notch snowboard movies, The Kamikazu Project and The Future of Yesterday, rounded out the festivities with some heavy action from our one-planked brothers: a craftsman's perfection of powder riding on the one hand, and "the best snowboard movie ever" from Helgasson, et al, in the words of Jacob Wester, on the other.

Jacob Wester enjoying the show.

The High Five may not be “just” a freeski film festival anymore, but it’s still a special time for the core skiing scene—a chance to gather with old friends and new, enjoy the special setting of Annecy on the lake, and imbibe as many ski films as you can endure. A big thanks to the organizers for continuing the evolution of an event that’s become indispensable to the freeski scene in France and well beyond.