Three is a magic number 

Whistler Film Festival gets a strong start

What: Whistler Film Festival

Where: Village 8 Cinemas/Rainbow Theatre

When: Dec. 4-7

The third annual Whistler Film Festival kicks off this week showcasing 40 independent feature and short films and an eight-session filmmaking forum and workshop series.

Six feature filmmakers have chosen Whistler to host their world premiere. It’s also a once in a lifetime opportunity to check out some of the most talked about films from international festivals, such as the Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Sundance and Cannes film festivals, on the big screens at local cinemas.

While a special pre-festival screening of Alberta director Gil Cardinal’s film Totem: The Return of the G’spgolox Pole takes place at Rainbow Theatre on Wednesday, Dec. 3, the official festival kick off is Go Further, a documentary by Vancouver filmmaker Ron Mann that follows actor Woody Harrelson around on hemp-fuelled bus, The Mothership, as he pursues eco-activist campaigns on the West Coast. The film is a follow up of sorts to Grass, Mann’s film about Harrelson’s marijuana legalization campaign, which was a hit at the inaugural Whistler Film Festival in 2001. Go Further screens Thursday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. at Rainbow Theatre.

Following Go Further is Dana Brown’s surfing documentary Step Into Liquid. While Brown is often in the shadow of his father Bruce Brown, director of the iconic surf movie The Endless Summer, the film is garnering acclaim based on its own merits, and the talents of its family torch-carrying director. Liquid will be preceded by short film Pororoca: Surfing the Amazon. The screenings follow Go Further at Rainbow Theatre at 9:30 p.m.

Thursday is also the kickoff for this year’s filmmaking forum. All sessions of the filmmaking forum take place at the Village 8 Cinemas.

The first of two parts of the hands-on Final Cut Pro 4 for Emerging Digital Filmmakers workshop begins at 1 p.m. At 4:30 p.m. the Adventure & Action Sport Filmmaking forum features celebrated industry folk such as Christian Begin of the Kranked mountain bike film series and surf film director Dana Brown.

Also on the panel are Warren Miller/IMAX cinematographer Scott Fulmer and Jack Silberman, tattoo artist/director of The Vanishing Tattoo, a documentary about recording an ancient practice of his craft in the inhospitable jungles of Borneo. Silberman’s film, another world premiere feature, screens on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Skier magazine editor and Whistler local Leslie Anthony will moderate the panel.

Thursday’s film lineup and workshops set the wheels in motion and the festival will continue to gain momentum through Sunday, Dec. 7, capping off with the renowned Passion wrap party, which takes place at the Garibaldi Lift Co. and features ambient groove band The New Deal. A comprehensive list of Festival films, workshops, ticket prices and events is available online at www.whistlerfilmfestival.com or by calling 604-932-3323.

Individual festival screening tickets are $8.50, with a $1 Whistler Film Society membership added to first time ticket purchases, a requirement the festival must fulfil in order to screen un-rated films. The festival box office sets up in the lobby of the Blackcomb Lodge on Dec. 1. Tickets may also be purchased through Tourism Whistler’s Information and Activity Centre and at Nesters Market.

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