Crash Reel could have easily have been my life. My frends and I lived for skiing.
I would literally drive 12hr round trips sometimes to ski for 8hrs – those were the days – 20hr days all for skiing, me and the mates would live out of my Ford Hatchback in the capark of Jindabyne at other times just so we could afford to ski, we would just skip the accommodation and could then afford the lift tickets, we would also ignore the below zero temperatures.
And skiing, or in this case, snowboarding has and always will be about pushing the boundaries – it is an extreme sport. Speed, jumps, tricks and pushing yourself beyond safety limits is part of the alluring package of the sports, you and your mates literally make you better by pushing each other to places you would never venture on your own. It is also about soaring and feeling free in this crisp, clean and natural environment. And it’s totally bloody radical
Kevin Pearce was this kind of guy, he reminds me of Tim, one of the besties back in the day – we literally lived for winter and skiing, we just didn’t have the resources to be able to push ourselves into Kevin’s realm of talent. Watching this film had me in goosebumps for most of it and that wasn’t from the cold environment, it was that this kid had my life back then, just different people. And the brilliance of this film. It literally is close on 20yrs of footage all joined together, no re-enactments. Kevin was a sponsored snowboarder, and is in the U.S. where filming everything even from a young age is important to possible fame and future. It is so cleverly pieced together by Director Lucy Walker you would believe that it has been in the making for 20yrs. Walker is a veteran film maker.
Director Lucy Walker’s documentaries have won over fifty film awards, and she has twice been nominated for an Academy Award®, first for WASTE LAND (2010), a documentary feature which also won over 30 other awards including Audience Awards at both Sundance and Berlin, and a year later for THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM (2011), a documentary about survivors of Japan’s 2011 tsunami, which also won the non-fiction jury prize at Sundance.
Her three previous feature documentaries are DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND (2002), BLINDSIGHT (2006) and COUNTDOWN TO ZERO (2010). BLINDSIGHT, about blind Tibetan students climbing Everest, premiered at Toronto and won festivals including Berlin. COUNTDOWN TO ZERO, about nuclear weapons, premiered at Sundance and played in Official Selection at Cannes. DEVIL’S PLAYGROUND, about Amish teenagers, premiered at Sundance and was nominated for three Emmys® (Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Editing) and an Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary. She has also been nominated for two Emmys® for Outstanding Directing for Nickelodeon’s BLUE’S CLUES.
Kevin was one of the best snowboarders in the world, him and Shaun White started as best mates, with Kevin even living at Shaun’s house until Kevin started beating Shaun and then spoiled brat Shaun had all of Kevin’s stuff removed from the house, and this commenced a strong competitive nature that was about winning and beating the other. The footage is phenomenal – seeing the faces of which one came second while the other celebrated on the Number 1 podium is reason enough for seeing this film. Neither of them is ever happy with second place and it was such a great thing to see Shaun White knocked down a peg or two. You may remember White from the Winter Olympics – he was the one that for training had his own secured pipe built for training, even his girlfriend had to sign non disclosure agreements about the pipe. It is amazing what people do at the top of their game to maintain it. Well Kevin started kicking Shaun’s ass and between the two of them the sport went mental. Kevin’s professional ascent happened at a time when snowboarding tricks were evolving rapidly. His sporting rivalry with Shaun White introduced airbags and foam-landing pits into the sport, reflecting the lengths each was prepared to go to to achieve Olympic glory.
Kevin was pegged to be a favourite for the winter Olympics in 2009 but on New Year’s Eve, while doing some routine runs with his mates, he simply caught an edge coming down form a jump in a pipe and his head slammed into the snow like a spring, not a chance to get his hands up, head slammed. And from that second on an entire sporting legend at the top of his game changed and altered in ways that will make you laugh, cry, sob and cheer for him and the people around him and from the sport in general. This film is literally edge of your seat for a docco and because of the amount of footage available it is incredibly detailed and you actually enter this person’s life, not through recollections and interviews, but by being there while it unfolds. It is such a melancholic story with moments of deep sadness but also moments of astounding inspiration and determination. All Kevin wants to do is snowboard again and he forces it endlessly even at the expense of his family’s emotions. And honestly, what a family Kevin has, they are near perfect wanting nothing but the best for every member of it. Kevin’s brother David has Down Syndrome and I believe he is one of Kevin’s biggest influences and guiding lights that steered Kevin onto a different path. So strong was Kevin’s desire to beat all the damage done to him that he always believed he would be made completely perfect again, hearing Kevin self chanting to himself “it’s all part of the game, it’s all part of the game” had me in tears, he was so competitive in sport and in life he thought determination alone could win this game like it did with beating Shaun so many times. It is for people like this that life can be incredibly cruel sometimes. To me it is like seeing a bird with clipped wings and to be honest Kevin soared as high as the birds in his prime.
But it is not all about seeing one door close and living in despair, and for me this part of the film was too short. I think too much time was given to Kevin’s early days and then recovery that the afterward, the closing chapter of this film is to many the most important. What happened to Kevin? what is he doing now? After seeing so much determination and what some might call youthful arrogance at the desire to return to the sport when Kevin’s path changes it isn’t given the emphasis it deserved. It is shown but it is too brief and not highlighted – so from the website…………..
Kevin continues to be an important part of the snowboarding world. He has been commentating at events, like Winter X Games, since late 2011, and on December 13, 2011, Kevin got back on a snowboard for the first time. While he admits that not being able to compete is something he has to come to terms with every single day, he does not feel defeated and he is enjoying being back on snow.
A passion for educating the public on important issues has long been a priority for Kevin, and post-accident his activism has only grown. Kevin is a Sports Ambassador for the National Down Syndrome Society, crediting his older brother David, who was born with Down syndrome, as a huge influence in his life and career. Kevin is also an advocate for education and research on Traumatic Brain Injuries and their prevention, highlighting the importance of wearing a helmet.
It is shown just how many injuries these people, and the people of Extreme Sports suffer and I cringed, sat there with my hand over my mouth and literally gasped at the injuries they have all had. Just hearing the injuries suffered by Kevin’s frends is astounding. And it just highlights our desire for watching the extreme, really, has life changed that much? All we have done is removed the lions and now pay these sportsman huge amounts of money to enter a colosseum and fight for fans and their lives. BE SAFE AND BE SMART PEOPLE – DO WHAT YOU LOVE BUT STAY ALIVE – INJURIES HURT MORE THAN YOURSELF.
I URGE YOU TO SEE THIS FILM – PLEASE HELP THIS CHARITY AND BE INSPIRED BY A TRULY REMARKABLE FILM AND PERSON – GRAB YOUR TICKETS FOR THE ORPHEUM SCREENING NOW!! And don’t just take it on my word at how awesome this film is – it has more awards than can fit laurels on the film’s home page – which you can suss right HERE.
The Crash Reel Sydney Charity Screening
In support of the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Return2Sport Program, Kevin will host a special charity screening of the film at The Hayden Orpheum Cremorne, Monday July 29th at 6.30pm. The screening will be followed immediately by a Q&A session with Kevin. Purchase tickets here.
Additionally, The Crash Reel will screen as part of the Melbourne International Film Festival and New Zealand International Film Festival.
If you miss the charity screening and the possibility of talking to Kevin or the film festivals then the DVD / Digital Download Releases on 7th Aug 2013. I will be owning a copy of this – I could sit through it multiple times.
I now Ski for Kevin (sorry Kev – I am a purist – no boarding :)) and wish the Frends of the world oodles of joy and fun – but stay safe!!