The countdown has begun to Whistler’s 13th annual cinematic celebration. The Whistler Film Festival returns December 4 to 8, 2013 and with 16 weeks to go, the Festival is proud to offer a sneak peek of confirmed films and highlights from its Summit industry program. Set in North America’s premiere destination mountain resort, the Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with a screen-based industry Summit organized to address the ever-evolving landscape crossing borders and platforms in the digital age. The Festival hosts filmmaking luminaries for an intimate five-day program featuring up to 90 original films from Canada and around the world, filmmaker tributes, special events, and industry initiatives. Recognized by filmmakers and film lovers alike as one of Canada’s most important showcases for film, WFF is a place where artists are celebrated, audiences are inspired, new ideas are discussed, and business opportunities are solidified.
Returning for his second year as WFF’s Director of Programming, industry veteran Paul Gratton has this to say about the 2013 line-up, “Whistler continues to be a must-attend event for hip, young film buffs and emerging filmmakers, and we are pleased to carve out our own unique niche by offering a large number of Canadian premieres. This year’s titles cast a wide net in terms of subject matter, and our Summit will complement our film programming by addressing key challenges and opportunities facing the industry this year. This year’s Whistler Film Festival will have something for everyone.”
The Whistler Film Festival will open with the Western Premiere of Jason Priestley’s heart-warming and inspiring road movie Cas & Dylan, featuring another knock-out performance by Tatiana Maslany. Her role in Picture Day (2012) won her the Best Actor in a Borsos Film Award last year, while the film, directed by Kate Melville won WFF’s coveted Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature. Maslany gives another mesmerizing performance, this time opposite Academy Award-Winning actor Richard Dreyfuss. Featuring breathtaking western scenery, this story follows a couple of mismatched road travelers and will not leave a dry eye in the house. Cas & Dylan is one of six titles that will be competing for this year’s coveted Borsos award. Priestley is expected to attend this opening night gala presentation and ski in WFF’s Celebrity Challenge Ski Race on Whistler Mountain.
WFF’s closing night film is an outstanding documentary that transcends the traditional sports storyline to tell a true tale of courage and rehabilitation against all odds. The Canadian premiere of The Crash Reel, directed by Lucy Walker, highlights the life-long rivalry between two half-pipe snowboard legends, heading towards Olympic glory, until a near fatal crash results in major trauma for one of the childhood buddies, Kevin Pearce. Culled from over fifteen years of home movies and archival footage, this is a story of courage and acceptance that will inspire anyone who has ever had to fight back against adversity and physical trauma. Pearce is expected to attend the closing night ceremonies.
The Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature celebrates its 10th anniversary this year offering the second largest cash prize for a Canadian film in the country. Amongst the Borsos films confirmed at this time, the North American premiere of Patch Town stands out. Expanded from an award-winning BravoFact short, Craig Goodwill’s first feature is a unique parable about a psychically damaged man who tries to escape with his wife and child from the drudgery of an oppressive society. The film recalls the visual panache of Jean-Pierre Jeunet, with a touch of Eraserhead thrown in, but with a unique visual style all its own.
Breathtaking scenery from the Far North is showcased in the Western Premiere of Uvanga from the producers of Atarjuanat – The Fast Runner. Co-directed by Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, Uvanga tells the story of a single mother who returns to Nunavut with her son, so that he can discover his roots and learn about his deceased father.
Other confirmed titles include the World Premiere of Afterparty, a Michelle Ouellette feature showcasing a who’s who of West Coast acting talent, including Ali Liebert, Emma Lahana and Jodi Balfour. Produced by a film co-op, with script and story input by a variety of cast members, this is a film that captures the vital energy and spirit of young people today. Sex After Kids is another BC premiere that features an ensemble cast in a sex comedy, featuring the likes of Jay Brazeau, Mimi Kuzyk, Katie Boland and Kristin Booth, to name but a few.
The Canadian Premiere of Meth Head is director Jane Clark’s very human but brutally realistic descent into addiction hell, featuring a searing and courageous performance by former child star Lukas Haas (Witness, Testament), whose character resorts to turning tricks to support his out-of-control habit. Similarly, the Canadian Premiere of Jimmy P. (Psychotherapy of a Plains Indian) features a mesmerizing performance by Benicio Del Toro as a First Nations war vet suffering from a head trauma injury, mistakenly assumed to be a form of mental illness by the medical establishment not used to administering medicine to First Nations people. Directed by Arnaud Desplechin, with Mathieu Almaric as the therapist, this film premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Other highlights include the Western theatrical premiere of Barry Avrich’s Filthy Gorgeous: The Extraordinary World of Bob Guccione, a surprising and ultimately sympathetic exposé of the private life of the man who founded Penthouse and produced the infamous Caligula, still the most expensive XXX movie ever made. Finally, as part of our China Canada Gateway for Film®, we are proud to present the Chinese box office blockbuster Finding Mr. Right one of the top grossing Chinese films of all time. This contemporary romantic comedy directed by Xiao Lu Xue was largely shot in the Vancouver area with an all-star Chinese cast.
These are but a few tantalizing tidbits representing what audiences can expect from this year’s line-up. Taking place during the 2013 Whistler Film Festival, the Whistler Summit features three concentrated days of business programmes and networking events where industry can delve into the ever-evolving convergence of the art, technology and commerce of cinema. Wondering about how to get your first feature in the can, how to self-distribute your film theatrically, or how to finance a feature length doc in a time of vanishing TV slots but expanded theatrical opportunities? Offering in-depth conversations, lively debates, and critical insight into a broad range of issues vital to the international and domestic film communities that address crossing borders and platforms in the digital age, Whistler is the place to be, to connect and to deal.
New for 2013 is WFF’s Feature Project Lab, an intense four-day business and marketplace immersion experience for six Canadian producers that focuses on strengthening dramatic feature projects from script to screen by facilitating feedback, collaboration, and investment in film projects that have US and international appeal.
Writer/producer teams are invited to submit their feature film story ideas for this year’s second annual China Canada Gateway for Film® Script Competition, a dynamic pitching competition designed to stimulate international financing for Canadian creators to participate in a China Canada co-production. The competition introduces experienced writer/producer teams to Chinese studios with production financing on the table for three selected projects.
The MPPIA Short Film Award Competition returns for its 7th edition as part of WFF’s ShortWork Lab , providing one BC filmmaker with the opportunity to develop his/her directing career by realizing a unique creative vision in a short film project. Short-listed candidates will pitch their projects at the 2013 Festival, and the winning film will have its world premiere at WFF 2014. Submission details for all programs are available online.
The Festival’s online box office is now open for early bird industry registration and festival passes until October 31st. Best accommodation rates are also available starting from $89* per night until November 18th subject to availability. The Festival lineup and film schedule will be available online by November 4th. Individual film and special event tickets will go on sale online by November 4th (until December 7th). The Festival Box Office opens November 4th for phone sales and on November 29th for walk-in sales.
The Whistler Film Festival is supported by Telefilm Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Tourism Whistler, and is sponsored by Bell Media, Variety, the Directors Guild of Canada – British Columbia, American Airlines, Creative BC, Sorel, Kokanee and the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler.