Hokkaido Backcountry Project accepted to Whistler Film Fest

My official movie poster for the 2016 Whistler Film Festival – Photo: Matt Standal

Some of you might know that I’ve been posting about Hokkaido, Japan for the past year, and working on a documentary film that touches on backcountry access, ski touring, helicopter skiing, and cat skiing in Hokkaido.

Well, I’m proud to say that my Kickstarter-funded film “The Hokkaido Backcountry Project” has been accepted to the Whistler Film Festival, and will premiere Thursday, Dec. 3, alongside Mike Douglas’ amazing film Eclipse.

So much credit goes to the professional guides, skiers, and wonderful local people of Niseko, Japan for helping me tell the story of the history of heli skiing and cat skiing in Hokkaido. To my friends, family, and colleagues – I couldn’t have done it without you.

I’d also like to thank the Hokkaido Backcountry Club for hosting me, and extend my warm gratitude to legendary avalanche forecaster Akio Shinya, who was gracious enough to interview with me, although he opposed much of the heli and cat skiing we documented.

Shooting video from the Dragon Helicopter in Hokkaido, Japan – Photo: Shin Doi

Professional snowboarder John Jackson takes off from a natural jump in the Hokkaido backcountry while filming with the GoPro crew – Photo: Matt Standal

The fishing town of Shimamaki is home to Japan’s newest snowcat operation in the Kariba mountainous district, pictured here – Photo: Matt Standal

Along the way, I was also fortunate enough to shoot behind-the-scenes footage of professional skiers and snowboarders, go heli skiing for the first time, and experience a culture and environment I’d only imagined.

So, what’s next?

While I’m scheduled to be in Whistler, B.C. next week for the film’s premiere, I’m already planning my next trip to Japan later in December. I’ll be returning to Niseko to work with the Hokkaido Backcountry Club in its second full year of operation. My goal is to continue exploring Hokkaido, learning more about Japan’s backcountry terrain and access.

I’m also focused on finding the best outlet for my film, whether that’s free distribution on the internet to raise awareness, partnership with a film company or streaming online service, or something else entirely.

Check out the documentary on Vimeo below: