The second movie of the La Liste series from Jérémie Heitz was long awaited, but has been flying a bit under the radar since its premiere last fall. A big factor for this lukewarm reception was the scarce accessibility for ski fans, as it could only be seen in cinemas in select countries. Now it's also available online, albeit only as pay-per-view offer. The question, of course, is: Should you invest the bucks to see La Liste: Everything or Nothing?
If you're simply looking for an answer to this question, I can save your time and give you the short answer: Absolutely, yes! But if this quick response isn’t enough for you, or if you don’t know what this whole “La Liste” thing is all about—hardly imaginable in freeski circles—then you are heartily invited to read on.
La Liste - Everything or Nothing trailer (YouTube)
To begin, let’s briefly look at the release schedule. After the huge success of the original La Liste movie in 2017, which was nothing short of a complete redefinition of big mountain freeriding by Jérémie Heitz and his partner-in-crime Sam Anthamatten, the announcement of a follow-up with the aim of extending the concept to even bigger peaks filled the scene with huge anticipation. However, due to several reasons—one of which was, of course, the Covid-19 pandemic—the production period was extended into 2021. For a while it wasn’t even sure whether the movie would come out in 2021, since the whole production turned out to be much more complicated than expected, even without the pandemic. You might want to read our mid-term story about the project in Ski Stories 2020, the Downdays book from last season, for further insights into the difficulties. Nevertheless, La Liste - Everything or Nothing dropped in autumn 2021 as promised, but was at first limited to cinema screenings, which were also seriously effected by the third and fourth corona wave. Somehow the stoke never quite piled up as expected, and when the worldwide online release was announced a short while ago, the news didn’t really cause a big stir.
Jérémie Heitz and Sam Anthamatten: the perfect tag team to take on some of the world´s most daunting ski terrain. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/Red Bull Content Pool
This should change, though. The sequel to La Liste is definitely worth watching for everybody who's even slightly into freeride skiing. In fact, the movie is worth watching even if you're not that familiar with big mountain freeriding, but simply have a soft spot for well-crafted sports documentaries. La Liste - Everything or Nothing is a different movie than the first one, and you should approach the experience of watching it as “going to the movies,” not as a method to fuel your inspiration for your next shred. After you see it, you'll understand that the decision to show this movie exclusively in cinemas at first wasn’t that odd after all. Running just short of an hour and 15 minutes, the film is not so much a great ski movie as it is a great movie about life—in the context of sports, and specifically steep skiing. It's a movie about how two adventurous spirits set their goals, what it takes to achieve them, what struggles might be encountered on the way, and whether or not it's all worth it. You'll also see some great skiing, of course, but it could be less skiing than you might expect. But let me assure you, you won’t miss it.
Scoping Pakistani lines. Photo: Jeremy Bernard/Red Bull Content Pool
A classic ski movie review might run through the most outstanding tricks or lines in order to get your mouth watering, but I'm actually not going to write about the skiing at all. I won't even give you further details about the plot—yes, this is a ski movie with a real plot—since I don’t want to spoil anything for you. I have to say, though, that Sherpas Cinema, the producers of this movie, really know their craft. This sequel is full of great imagery of breathtaking mountains and equally breathtaking action, as well as intense moments and introspective views from the people involved in the project. All these components are carefully woven into a well-balanced, captivating story, something that's not too common with your ordinary action sports movie. The movie is full of drama; but if anything, Eric Crossland, the movie’s director, is selling it short compared to the actual drama during the three-year production period. That’s also a rather uncommon treat for an action sports movie, especially considering the fact that Red Bull had a hand in the production. You might think that this is a lot of praise, but I guarantee you my raving is justified— even considering the high quality standards that we have grown accustomed to by previous Sherpas Cinema productions (Remember All.I.Can and Into the Mind?).
Yes, there is skiing in La Liste 2. Yes, it is gnarly. Photo: Bernard/RBCP
Before I let you go watch the movie, I'd like to share a few thoughts about skiing in general. In the beginning of La Liste - Everything or Nothing Sylvain Saudan, the Swiss godfather of steep skiing, cites a French saying: “An adventure is to go where nobody else has been before.” If you think that definition through, it means that there is hardly an adventure left in the Alps, at least not in a general sense. Wherever you go in the Alps, there is a measuring station nearby which provides all kind of data around the clock. There are 50 years of experience in skiing and 150 years of experience in alpinism, and in the case of an emergency, there is a helicopter airborne in just a few minutes or a team of rescuers on their way. By this standard, the feat that Jérémie Heitz and Sam Anthamatten pulled off in the first La Liste was not a real adventure, but rather a purely sportive achievement. They set out to bring a new type of skiing to a certain terrain, but the terrain they were riding was far from unknown. When they set their sight on the high mountains of Asia and South America for the sequel, the setting changed completely. There is no collective knowledge about skiing in these mountains, no data available from measuring stations, and no help when things go wrong. Even getting to these mountains is an adventure of its own.
Adventure is waking up cold in a tent somewhere on a Pakistani glacier before skiing a line where any wrong move can mean death. Photo: Bernard/RBCP
This becomes obvious in La Liste - Everything or Nothing since there is actually no "list" in this movie—the "list," of course, being the defining concept of the first movie. The new “list” consists of only two mountains, Artesonraju in Peru and Laila Peak in Pakistan. The project never got any further than that. When Sam and Jérémie finally get to ski some great lines on their second trip to the Karakoram range, they don’t find them at predetermined peaks, but simply where the conditions are right among the abundance of amazing faces in this huge mountain range. Without going into detail of what happens, Sam Anthamatten concludes that the future of big mountain freeriding may be found in places like the Karakoram. Admittedly, that seems a bit far-fetched; even if traveling to places like Pakistan becomes a leisure trip in the near future—which seems rather unlikely in times of global turmoil—it would take at least 10 or 20 years to build a foundation of experience that's even slightly comparable to what's available in the Alps or the high mountains of North America. And let's not forget that the high altitude in the mountains of Asia or South America requires a whole different level of physical preparation. But do we really need to go to places like the Karakoram or the Cordillera Blanca for skiing? If you're just looking to ski, you are probably better off in places where you know what to expect. If you're after something more adventurous, you can still go to places in the Alps and simply don’t take advantage of all the information that's available. In absolute terms, however, Sylvain Saudan is probably right: When it comes to real skiing adventures, you have to head for new places. But you should be aware of what you might get yourself into.
Jérémie in his happy place. Photo: Bernard/RBCP