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Coming-of-age film Drinkwater wins Audience Award at WFF

Shot in Penticton, ‘unabashedly Canadian’ film stars Eric McCormack, Daniel Doheny and Louriza Tronco
_Drinkwater_key Still
Eric McCormack, left, and Daniel Doheny in the WFF Audience Award-winner, Drinkwater.

Whistler Film Festival (WFF) attendees have had their say, and they picked the B.C.-shot Drinkwater as their favourite of the year, with the coming-of-age film earning the Audience Award at the event’s 21st annual edition.

Directed by Stephen Campanelli, Drinkwater was “the most unaplogetically Canadian film at the fest,” said organizers, featuring a Zamboni, an extended Tim Horton’s drive-thru scene, and a subplot about a Wayne Gretzky rookie card. But at the heart of this warm comedy shot in Penticton is the budding romance between Mike Drinkwater (Daniel Doheny), and Wallace (Louriza Tronco), along with the shenanigans of Mike’s dad, Hank (Eric McCormack), a tireless schemer who lends the film some of its funniest moments. McCormack, most known for his starring role in the smash hit sitcom, Will & Grace, was awarded the WFF Trailblazer Award at this year’s festival, while Tronco and Doheny were both selected in WFF’s eighth annual Stars to Watch program.

Drinkwater was not only popular with our Whistler in-theatre audiences, but positive word of mouth resulted in it becoming our most popular film online as well. An unabashedly Canadian comedy is exactly what WFF audiences are in the mood for,” said Paul Gratton, WFF’s director of film programming, in a release. “It is fantastic to see this kind of support for a made-in-B.C. feature.”

Presented by CBC Gem, the Audience Award is a non-cash prize presented to the most popular festival film as voted by attendees both in-person and online.

Coming second in the votes was documentary BURIED, directed by Jared Drake and Steven Siig, which recounted the tragic story of the search for missing bodies and a dedicated ski patrol after a devastating avalanche hit California’s Alpine Meadows Resort in 1982. The film also earned the Best Mountain Culture Film Award at the festival.

“Our runner-up, BURIED was a clear favourite with a theme that resonated with our Whistler and online audiences in its intensity and drama and telling of a mountain story,” Gratton said.

A total of $74,500 in cash and production prizes, with 14 awards in seven juried film competitions, plus WFF’s Power Pitch Competition, were announced on Dec. 19.

All WFF online films are available to watch for a limited time until Dec. 31 at watch.whistlerfilmfestival.com. WFF is sharing net film ticket proceeds with the filmmakers and Canadian rights holders.