Ski film shot in Nelson turns genre on its head

Valhalla will have its Nelson premiere next Wednesday at the Capitol Theatre.

Valhalla, a genre-defying ski film shot over two years right here in our own backyard, will have its Nelson premiere next Wednesday at the Capitol Theatre.

The film was made by Sweetgrass Productions, a company known for embedding itself in areas for multi-year projects. Earlier films by the company were set in Japan and South America, and for their fourth feature length effort co-producers Nick Waggoner and Ben Sturgulewski decided to park themselves in Nelson.

“We’re showing Nelson to the world,” Waggoner says on the phone from Salt Lake City, one stop on the film tour.

Valhalla had its world premiere in Denver in mid-September and has since been touring the United States, Japan and Australia. Waggoner said a lot of people who see the film can’t believe a place like Nelson really exists.

“They think it’s this crazy fantasy world we created, and we say ‘No, it’s real. It exists in Nelson,’” Waggoner laughs.

You can forgive viewers for not being exactly clear on what’s reality in the film. Sweetgrass takes a leap away from the traditional 60-minutes-of-stright-action model that dominates the ski film genre by introducing a fictional storyline in Valhalla.

“The story, at its core, is about a guy who goes out to re-find the eyes of his youth and re-find this passion that he’s lost as he’s gotten into his older years and gotten away from the beauty of being a kid and the beauty of winter,” Waggoner explains.

Working with actors, sets and scripts was all new to Waggoner and his team, but they were eager to try something different.

“For the last 60 years there’ve been thousands and thousands of outdoor films made following the same formula and we wanted to get away from that,” he says.

That’s not to say there isn’t some epic skiing and snowboarding in the film, just that it’s interspersed with the story.

“If you’re a really, really hardcore skier, there’s so much skiing in the film that’s going to satisfy you,” Waggoner says. “But if you don’t even ski the film is still going to resonate because of the story.”

The Nelson premiere of Valhalla is Wednesday, October 23 at 7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre. Advance tickets are $12 for adults or $10 for students, available at the Capitol Theatre box office or online at capitoltheatre.bc.ca. Tickets at the door are $15.

The film is also available for download on iTunes. For details and to watch the film trailer see sweetgrass productions.com.

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