X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival Ignites Salt Lake City

The Drifter; courtesy Dustin Humphrey

10 years in the making, X-Dance emerged from a convergence of like-minded action sports junkies and Sundance Film Festival fans that led to a mojito-infused decision to buy the url: www.x-dance.com, as the festival would run during Robert Redford’s media giant Sundance.  In 2001, the X-Dance Actions Sports Film Festival began in a basement room of night club Harry O’s on Main Street in Park City where 12 films were screened in a small makeshift theater that barely held 50 people.  But the films magnetically drew audiences, eager to support and root for the extreme athletes and young filmmakers documenting their antics.  And quickly the team behind the festival garnered a reputation for their events as they knew how to throw a good party, famous for their wall-to-wall montages of action sports imagery created by the extraordinary VJ, Brien Rullman, finessed to live music the likes of Paul Oakenfold, Kinky, Ming & Fs, Tre from Pharcyde and Talib Kewli. Over the years, the festival grew to standing-room-only screenings packed with 350 people with iconic athletes like Tony Hawk, Danny Way and Travis Pastrana attending.

Laird Hamilton

“It truly is the best of action sports. Nowhere else will you find all of the top athletes and filmmakers under one roof,” says surfing legend Laird Hamilton, a long-time X-Dance supporter.

X-Dance has become the world’s premiere action sports film festival with hundreds of submissions arriving from around the globe.  The films showcase skiing, snowboarding, surfing, wakeboarding, motocross, mountain biking, and skateboarding.  The festival also sports an adventure category for basejumping, rockclimbing, kayaking, ski mountaineering, and other sports that push the envelope.

Now celebrating its 10th anniversary, X-Dance has come a long way, harnessing the creative energy of adrenaline culture.  “In the beginning it was all action porn,” explains festival director Brian Wimmer.  “Big tricks, loud music and fast paced editing—no story whatsoever.  Now we have  “Best Documentary” and “Best Biography” categories and the filmmakers are digging deeper, telling the stories of the fearless athletes that propel these sports,” he adds.  “We’ve had an incredible range from Sliding Liberia about surfers going to Liberia in Africa  in the midst of civil war and teaching the locals to surf, to a fascinating docu “Between the Lines” about two surfers and their relationship to Vietnam—following one that went to war and one that dodged and how surfing interwove their lives.  It’s incredible and encouraging to see the evolution of these films and we are thrilled to have X-Dance as the platform for filmmakers to move toward the main stream while remaining true to their core.”

X-Dance Past Winners

Travis Pastrano

Travis Pastrano

Past winners of the festival include “199 Lives,” the riveting story of Travis Pastrano, the maverick X-Games champ who pioneered the double back flip in motocross, (who is also a rally car racer who jumped out of a plane without a parachute), along with the 2009 winner “That’s It, That’s All,” the HD and 35mm cinematography gem that spotlighted Travis Rice snowboarding his way through Alaska, New Zealand and Jackson Hole.  At past X-Dance events, Tony Hawk has taken home the “Athlete of the Year” and snowboarder Jeremy Jones was given  the “Ambassador of Green” award for his work with the non-profit Protect Our Winters, as X-Dance has a campaign “Save our Playgrounds,” hoping to encourage the action sports community to take a stand in regard to environmentalism.

2010 X-Dance Films

Bonifay Jibbing Icebergs

X-Dance 2010 will present 40 of the world’s best action sports films over the six- day festival in Salt Lake City.  The film slate includes a variety of action sports and cinematic styles. A few examples of accepted films include “Parks Bonifay Documentary,” the tale of wunderkind Bonifay who made the Guinness Book of World Records by waterskiing at age 6 months, and then went on to become one of the world’s best wakeboarders.  He grabbed the industry’s attention by winning the X Games in 1996 at age 14.  Now 27, Bonifay has elevated the sport into new heights, not to mention, he is the first person to wakeboard Tahiti’s most famous epic wave Teahupoo, and recently, was jibbing icebergs and charging the arctic waters of the Newfoundland Sound.

Master surfer Rob Machado stars in a brilliant soulful film called “The Drifter” about his journey through Indonesia in search of solitude and surf.  After roaming through Bali and surfing its breaks, he ends up in a remote village learning from the cultural tribe there.  Director Taylor Steele draws the viewer into this compelling yet esoteric journey that boasts stunning cinematography, glorious surfing and a window into Machado’s soul-searching adventure.

Roxy’s “Dear & Yonder” explores the rich history of women’s surfing charting the course of past pioneers and today’s best. The movie follows Roxy surfers through Indo, checks in with legends Lisa Anderson and Rell Sunn, along with spotlighting those women surfers dedicated to environmental forward-thinking, like a board shaper who utilizes a soy-based biofoam to create surfboards.  This poignant and inspiring film celebrates the women and the beauty of the surf realm they inhabit.

Stance's Gretchen Bleiler

Local Utah filmmakers Stan Evans and director Jeremy Miller have created visually compelling snowboarding romp spotlighting the best women in the sport called “Stance”─much of it shot in Utah, an homage to the female shredders who propel the sport.  “Me, Myself and I” is a well-crafted documentary of decorated snowboarder Todd Richard’s life, while the Red Bull’s “Project X” tells the tale of Shaun White’s secret half-pipe in Colorado and his sessions there dedicated to develop his tricks for X-Games 2010 and the winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Teton Gravity’s “Generations,” narrated by maverick filmmaker Greg Stump, takes a long hard look at climate change and the effect on snow with interviews from professional skiers, climatologists, and concerned citizens in the industry.  “The Africa Revolutions Tour” follows kayakers seeking out South Africa’s and Madagascar’s wildest rivers, showing their adventures running rapids and dodging hippos, along with their interactions and charitable actions with the local people they meet along the way.  The hyper-intense adventure film “Mount St Elias” depicts the true story of the longest ski descent ever down the Alaskan peak, the second highest mountain in the US and Canada.

Legendary Filmmaker Warren Miller at X-Dance 2010

X-Dance Festival Director Brian Wimmer, Warren Miller, Extreme Skler Scot Schmidt

X-Dance Festival Director Brian Wimmer, Warren Miller, Extreme Skler Scot Schmidt

Finally, having reached this important 10-year milestone, X-Dance will pay homage the “Godfather of Action Sports Filmmaking,” Warren Miller with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his amazing contribution to the industry.  After being discharged from the Navy in 1946, Warren Miller purchased an 8mm camera and spent two winters living in the Sun Valley Resort parking lot in his famous tear-drop trailer.  Miller and friends would film each other skiing in the winter, and then surfing in spring and summer. When he would show the films to friends, he’d cover his less than perfect photography of that era by making jokes about what was on the screen.  As he says, “Terribly funny falls and amazing camera angles gave birth to extreme ski filming which later morphed into extreme all-sports!”

Miller became famous for his yearly ski tours: “The thousands of miles I traveled every year, and the hundreds of miles I skied every year, allowed me to meet amazing people, who like me, thought the freedom one experiences skiing is the best feeling in the world. And after 500 films, shown in hundreds of cities each year, I became more convinced that the most important people in the world were those who have stood in lines at the box office and shared the wonderful rush of skiing’s freedom with me,” explains Miller.

Miller will also serve as an honorary judge at the 2010 festival, and will participate in an X-Dance Institute public forum, which serves as a means to educate and inspire the attending filmmakers, on Monday, January 25 at 3:30 pm.

Cinematographer Don Burgess at X-Dance 2010

Cinematographer Don Burgess

Other festival highlights include the X-Dance Institute’s Cinematography Workshop sponsored by GoPro Cameras with Academy-nominated cinematographer Don Burgess (“Forrest Gump,” “Spiderman”) and Chris Woods, director of over 400 national commercials,  set for Saturday, January 23rd at 4:30 p.m.

The six-day festival runs from Thursday, January 21 through Tuesday, January 26.  All screenings and Institute forums will take place at the X-Dance Headquarters at the Off-Broadway Theater (272 South Main St.) located across from the Gallivan Trax stop.  There is ample street parking or the Wells Fargo and Tower lots.  Tickets are $8 per film, $5 for students; Special X-Dance Institute screenings are $12.  $40 for a 5-day pass. The full X-Dance film schedule is listed on the X-Dance website.

Other public events include the opening party at The Rail (235 N 500 W Salt Lake City, UT  84116), on Thursday, January 21 at 7 p.m. and the Awards Ceremony and Closing Party at Club Elevate (155 West 200 South) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, January 26.

Special bonus for wandermelon peeps:  Anyone who signs up a friend or him/herself for the wandermelon newsletter between January 12 and January 19 will receive a free movie or party pass to X-Dance. Subscribe here.


  1. uberVU - social comments on January 12, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by visitsaltlake: Still wondering what X-Dance is all about? Here’s your answer: http://budurl.com/XDanceBlog Now get your tickets and don’t miss it!…

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  4. skipper on January 15, 2010 at 11:19 am

    YES YES XDANCE! THE most awesome and underrated core fest on earth! I’m a fan of 8 years! The innovators, the originators! SToked to go

  5. Koozies online on January 15, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    Films nowadays are so great and interesting !

  6. Darren on January 24, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Check X Dance out on twitter http://www.twitter.com/xdance and on facebook http://www.tinyurl.com/xdancepage

  7. cheap flights to south america on October 29, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    This is the first time I hear of this, but it looks amazing. I’m definitely looking further into it. That photo of Bonifay Jibbing Icebergs looks amazing!!

  8. Tom Edwards on December 9, 2011 at 7:25 am

    This looks amazing! I had never heard of X-Dance before, but now I really want to go.

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