McConkey

Film review of the biopic from the Tribeca Film Festival

Always in the pursuit of fun, Shane McConkey was never one for a dull moment. PHOTO: Flip McCririck

Words: Ingrid Backstrom

The lines to get into the Loews Village 7 in the east village of Manhattan stretched down either side of the block. Several skiers gathered, blinking in the 60-degree sunshine on the busy street corner. Strange not to be skiing on a Sunday in April, this group appeared even stranger as they filed into a dark movie theater at 2 p.m. in New York City. But for two hours, the skiers, including Chris Davenport, J.T. Holmes, and Scott Gaffney to name a few, sat still alongside the cinephiles of the Tribeca Film Festival, all of them transfixed by the much-anticipated biopic of the most influential skier ever, McConkey.

The movie, produced by Red Bull Media House and MSP Films, is first and foremost a documentary. The sheer amount of footage, of actual documentation of Shane’s life, is staggering. Some of the first scenes in the film are shots of his father, Jim McConkey, skiing and jumping over an airplane on skis in the ’60s, followed by stories of him as a boy and a teenager from his parents and roommates and friends. Then, shots of Shane at 20 or so, filming himself up late at night, talking to the camera, bored because everyone else is asleep. And, of course, lots of naked skiing, practical jokes, and every possible stunt from bungee jumping to cliff diving follow. Clearly, the camera loved Shane and vice-versa. And, as he grows up and gains confidence, one gets the sense that the camera has been an important and affirming part of that process.

The directors and editors (from left to right): Steve Winter, Rob Bruce, Scott Bradfield, David Zieff, Murray Wais, J.T. Holmes, and Scott Gaffney. PHOTO: Ingrid Backstrom

It’s also an action film, with breathtakingly gorgeous ski shots, nail-biting B.A.S.E. jumping, like a P.O.V. of Frank Gambalie edging out on top of a gargoyle on the Chrysler building, and behind-the-scenes shots of Shane’s first ski-B.A.S.E. jump.

In the midst of the humor and action, romance develops between Shane and his wife Sherry, a love story of husband and wife and parents and children.

McConkey, a multi-year project with input from multiple groups, including MSP, Red Bull, and family and friends, is edited so crisply that to take your eyes away for a second would be to miss something amazing, because it seems that Shane was doing something incredible every second of his life.

McConkey still makes us laugh today. PHOTO: Courtesy of Steve Winter

And yet the true masterpiece of the film lies in the fact that it lets Shane and the people closest to him tell their own story. In this way, it doesn’t matter if one is a skier or a movie junkie or a casual viewer.

During the Q&A session following the film, a woman in the back of the theater in a mint-green outfit with a mint-green fake flower in her hair said, “Now I don’t ski, but that movie was incredible. It just shows that no matter what, you need passion in life. I absolutely loved it.”

Personal bias or no, the film is a historical, inspirational, and beautiful human story.

Click here to watch the McConkey trailer.

According to Red Bull, the release of the film will be October 2013. The iTunes/DVD release will be shortly after the Squaw kickoff of the tour next fall. We’ll have more information to share with details on the exact date once we hear from Red Bull or check out McConkeyMovie.com.

The Tribeca Film Festival was founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001 following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music and culture, the Festival brings the industry and community together around storytelling. The Tribeca Film Festival has screened more than 1,400 films from more than 80 countries since its first edition in 2002. Since inception, it has attracted an international audience of more than 4.0 million attendees and has generated an estimated $750 million in economic activity for New York City.

Add a comment

  • Paulie

    Any speculation as to when will the film be available for purchase?

    • http://twitter.com/PowderMagazine Powder

      Hey Paulie, according to Red Bull, the release will be October 2013. The iTunes/DVD release will be shortly after the Squaw kickoff of the tour next fall. We’ll have more information to share with details on the exact date once we hear from Red Bull or mcconkeymovie.com.

  • paul

    RIP you legend!

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