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Off Piste

It’s not often that you find yourself being rescued from the top of a mountain during a film festival.

That’s the situation that some of the Screen team found themselves in yesterday during the fantastically run Les Arcs Film Festival, now in its third year, which manages to combine co-production meetings, screenings and industry panels with a healthy dose of skiing and après ski. Quite possibly the perfect festival, at least for industry folks who like snow.

Our first mistake was hitting the slopes mid afternoon, mid blizzard, when even the most hardened of skiers were calling it a day and heading to the bar. The second mistake was taking the chair lift all the way to the top of the mountain, where the visibility was practically zero.

Things started to go wrong when we realised that we couldn’t see anything, we had veered slightly off piste and were now sinking into the four foot of extra snow that had fallen since the morning and were virtually the only people left on the mountain. Oh, and it was starting to get dark…

After side stepping back up the mountain, one of our party managed to enlist the help of a feisty “pisteur” called Sherree who looked at us with a mixture of pity and disdain. “It’s my job to get you off this mountain,” she said in an American drawl. Good job. Because all we had on us was half a chocolate bar, a packet of camel lights, our blackberries (with minimal reception) and the most recent copy of Screen International. Not quite the professional skiers’ essential survival kit.

Sheree guided the skiers in the group back onto the right path, whilst the lone snowboarder amongst us got a ride back to the village on a snowmobile. In a scene reminiscent of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, we fought our way through the snow in the dark, with a big Alsatian dog running alongside and the light of the snowmobile guiding us back to the twinkling lights of the village..

Needless to say, we spent the whole of last night treating ourselves to raclette and regailing anyone who would listen with tales of our epic adventure - which may have become ever so slightly more dramatic as the evening went on…

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