Action flicks back in 2020 at Studio X for X Games
STUDIO X FILM SCHEDULE
THURSDAY, JAN. 23
1 p.m. ‘Inexact Odyssey’
FRIDAY, JAN. 24
2 p.m. Woodward Peace Park Championships
5:15 ‘Fire on the Mountain’
8 ‘Per Mission,’ featuring Kyle Mack
SATURDAY, JAN. 25
1 p.m. ‘Jamie Anderson: Unconditional’
6 ‘American Horror Story: 1984’ with Gus Kenworthy
8:30 ‘Alex Ferreira: The Scenic Route’
SUNDAY, JAN. 26
Noon ‘Brothers McMorris: Finnish Streets’
3 p.m. ‘Brothers McMorris: Springtime in Aspen’
3:30 ‘Brothers McMorris: Alaskan Backcountry’
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Ski and snowboard movies, and a dash of athlete on-screen acting, are finding their place at X Games Aspen.
Between the snowsports action and the concerts at the Buttermilk venue, event producers this year are hosting free screenings of some of the newest ski flicks in the indoor Studio X dome.
The mini film festival debuted onsite in 2019, when the free screenings were hosted in the Diamond Club. Located at the far edge of the venue, a trek across the temporary music venue from the crowds at the superpipe and X Fest, these screenings drew intimate crowds gathered on couches for athlete talks and screenings.
For 2020, X Games is putting the free film screenings in the middle of the action at Studio X, a heated indoor space located along the festival’s busy pedestrian walkway adjacent to the snowmobile course and Summit Express ski lift. The event space will have a capacity of 150 people.
The more prominent film screenings, said X Games associate director of event development Valerie Ryan, are part of a broader effort to engage athletes intimately with X Games spectators and to push budding stars into the pop culture mainstream.
“We want to highlight what our athletes are working on,” Ryan said, noting that some screenings will be followed by athlete Q&A sessions. “We also want to find ways to connect the athletes to the spectators. They’re wearing helmets and goggles and might not be recognizable, so we want to connect them to our X Games guests.”
Screenings kick off Thursday afternoon with the new Volcom snowboarding movie “Inexact Odyssey” and “Overjoyed” featuring X Games boarders Red Gerard, Sage Kotsenburg and Ben Ferguson.
While the winter edition of X Games has pushed freeskiing and boarding fully into the mainstream on ESPN over the past two decades, movies featuring X Games athletes remain a relatively smaller subculture among snowsports enthusiasts. By making the films a centerpiece of the in-person experience, along with year-round broadcasts on ABC’s “World of X Games” series, ESPN aims to grow that audience.
“We want to connect the dots and bring these films into the mainstream,” Ryan said.
The Aspen production crew worked with the “World of X Games” team to program the film series and looked to the sponsors who fund ski and snowboard movies along with leading production companies like Teton Gravity Reseach to find movies that would suit the in-person audience. X Games also will put the might of its social media handles behind the films, reaching the global audience that watches the broadcast on ESPN and follows online.
Snowboarder Danny Davis — who last year screened his behind-the-camera debut “All in A Dream” — is back on the bill, with a Friday screening of the 2019 championships at his Peace Park comp, featuring 21 elite snowboarders (including X Games stars like Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard, Ben Ferguson, Mark McMorris and Scotty James).
Davis is also featured Thursday in the artful “Fire on the Mountain,” a Grateful Dead-inspired short about improvisation in action sports. It’s narrated by the Deadhead and NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, with segments also featuring snowboarders Jeremy Jones and Kimmy Fasani, surfer Rob Mahado and skiers Michelle Parker and Chris Benchetler.
Aspen’s Alex Ferreira is in the spotlight Saturday, screening his Japan travelogue “The Scenic Route,” made with the local production company Vital Films.
Ferreira’s show will be preceded by a screening of Ryan Murphy’s FX anthology series “American Horror Story: 1984,” which is off the action sports map but features X Games mainstay and gay icon Gus Kenworthy in his role as Chet Clancy, a disqualified Olympic athlete.
“Gus Kenworthy is a great highlight to show the crossover of action sports with mainstream media,” Murphy said.
Mark and Craig McMorris take over Sunday, with three screenings of snowboarding adventures in Europe, Aspen and Alaska.
Along with the 11 films featuring X Games athletes, Studio X is turning into an indoor entertainment option throughout the festival and competitions. Daily events inside the venue include DJs, dance parties, Q&As with athletes and photographers and a daily “Kids’ Bubble Bash.”
“We want to provide the younger kids with something to do and someplace to warm up,” Ryan said.
DJs will play in the space until 10 p.m. on Thursday, 11:30 on Friday and Saturday and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, giving spectators a new option for a post-competition party.
“There really is something for everyone throughout the day,” Ryan said of Studio X.
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