Whistler Stories premiere at film festival 

Local filmmakers get a chance to show their Whistler

What: Whistler Stories

Where: Telus Conference Centre

When: Thursday, Dec. 1

Tickets: $25

To ensure local stories are heard leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Whistler Film Festival officials launched a new legacy program called Whistler Stories, which granted four filmmaking teams $5,000 grants to produce their stories. Come 2010, 20 films will be produced and assembled into a souvenir CD.

The first three of the five-minute short films will premiere at the festival’s opening gala, along with the full-length feature C.R.A.Z.Y., Thursday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. at the Telus Conference Centre.

"It’s a great way to engage local filmmakers and for them to be showcased at the festival and encourage them to tell great stories about where they live," said Shauna Hardy Mishaw, festival director and co-founder.

"Some of the top distributors in the world will be sitting in the audience. That is what we are really excited about."

Two local filmmakers will make their festival debut, including Rebecca Wood Barrett with the First to Go Down and Feet Banks with Sojourn .

The documentary First to Go Down asks the question, "Who skied Whistler First?"

Through the curiousity of a 14-year-old boy, interviews and archival footage, co-producer Wood Barrett guides audiences through the who-done-it quest.

Wood Barrett is an accomplished writer, producer and filmmaker. She has made more than 20 short films; the most famous locally being Mating Habits of the Whistler Mountain Cougar . The award-winning writer also writes short fiction and produces, writes and directs for Resort TV Network.

She is joined by co-producer and writer Lisa Richardson, cinematographer Lisa Fernandez, narrator Connor McGillion and music composers Glen Mishaw and Rob Funk.

"This is a great creative project for Whistler because it invites all kinds of collaborative creation," Richardson said.

For filmmaker Feet Banks, his film Sojourn was a collaboration between himself and fellow artist Chili Thom.

Banks arrived in Whistler at age 12. He co-founded Heavy Hitting Films, which produces the yearly B-Grade Horror Fest, and writes a weekly movie column for Pique Newsmagazine.

His film tells the journey of Whistler landscape artist Chili Thom’s seven-day trekking adventure into the mountains in search of inspiration to paint.

"He does exactly what he wants to with his life and does it where he loves and that spirit is something everyone in Whistler can relate to," Banks said.

The grant money gave Banks more artistic freedom than his usual penny productions, allowing him to fly for aerial shots, rent smaller cameras suitable for the two men’s 70-pound packs and compose original music in a professional sound studio.

"(The funding) allowed us to do things correctly," he said. "We created a really unique layered time lapse of one of the greatest sunsets I’ve ever seen. We layered it so it looks like Chili is painting over the real sunset. I think people will have never seen it before…. This program gives us one more forum to get our ideas out there and get them seen and known."

The remaining two filmmakers are from Vancouver. However, one dropped out. Vancouver’s Tracy D. Smith will screen her love story about a girl who has a one-night-stand with a boy in Whistler who she later discovers to be a tenant in her Vancouver apartment building.

Tickets for the Whistler Stories and C.R.A.Z.Y. premiers are $25. Visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com for details.

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