Celebrate the Season

Coldsmoke Awards, winter, Outside Bozeman, Montana

Celebrate the Season

Tucker, David
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With Coldsmoke Winter Film.

Bozeman is quickly becoming America’s outdoor capital. The city plays host to an internationally sanctioned ice-climbing competition, our mountains set the stage for the Freeride World Tour qualifiers, and our back yard is the most famous national park in the world. Thanks to Coldsmoke Winter Film, we can add winter-culture epicenter to that list of accolades.

Founded in 2003 to showcase local filmmakers and celebrate Bozeman’s growing ski community, Coldsmoke Winter Film has evolved into a celebration of all things winter. “The tour has become an opportunity to strengthen the winter-sports community and our shared experiences on snow,” says Jonas Grenz, Coldsmoke co-founder. “Our platform showcases these projects and facilitates networking among like-minded people and businesses.” Instead of defining winter culture, Coldsmoke lets the films and filmmakers do the talking. This year’s lineup is intentionally varied, and features winter surfing, ice climbing, and snowmobiling, in addition to more traditional ski films.

Starting in November, the tour comes calling at half a dozen stops across the Rockies and Pacific Northwest throughout the winter. At every location, Coldsmoke partners with a local nonprofit and a local small business, providing charities with a fundraising opportunity, and giving businesses access to new customers. This investment is central to Coldsmoke’s mission, according to Grenz. “We wanted to maximize our positive impact, not just come for one night and move on,” he explains. Lineups are uniquely tailored for each stop, highlighting different films and filmmakers based on location.

For folks who don’t live along the tour’s route, there’s the online-only People’s Choice Contest. Viewers can access over 30 films and vote for their favorites, all at no charge. Just for participating, they’re entered to win a trip for two to Whistler and $1,000 in spending money. The film that gets the most overall votes receives the People’s Choice Award and a $3,000 cash prize.

The icing on the cake, though, continues to be the Coldsmoke Awards right here in Bozeman. This year’s ceremony will be held at the Emerson on January 10, and Coldsmoke has teamed up locally with Eagle Mount. “We had three films about adaptive riders, so it just made sense,” Grenz says. As always, live music and libations will be part of the show, and costumes are encouraged. “It’s another opportunity to unite our winter community as Bozeman grows and the culture gets diluted.”

Growing Coldsmoke hasn’t been without its challenges, however. “As the tour grows, we’ve had a mixed reaction from Bozeman locals,” Grenz admits. “But we’ve tried to stay true to our beginnings by creating categories like the Home Field Advantage award, in recognition of a particularly impressive local filmmaker at each stop.” Coldsmoke has also been hamstrung by Bozeman’s lack of an adequate venue, and the cost of renting existing venues. “We’d love to offer week-long programming at various locations across town with more of a festival vibe,” Grenz says, “but a big challenge is getting people here, with so few direct flights.”

Challenges aside, Coldsmoke Winter Film continues to grow, another sign that Bozeman may soon be the headquarters of winter culture in the Rockies. So this winter, whether you ski or snowboard, ice climb or snowmobile, there’s one place to celebrate all things winter, and that’s Winter Film.

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