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Girl power

Local filmmaker competes for talent, gender recognition

By Nicole Fitzgerald

Filmmaker Heather Roberts’s short film The Key is a finalist in the Vast Awards Contest. Beating out 80 filmmakers from around the globe for a top 20 spot, she now needs the community’s help to see her dream of winning the contest come to fruition by encouraging people to visit the award website and vote.

“Check out your favourite riders and vote for your favourite movie,” Roberts encouraged. “(The contest) is a great opportunity for amateur filmmakers to showcase their talent.”

The Vast Awards is an international ski short film competition that is hosted once a year.

Winning films are determined by 60 per cent of the judges’ votes and 40 per cent of the public’s vote. There are three categories to vote in: best professional film, best skier performance and best rookie film.

The deadline for public votes is Jan. 25, with the winning filmmakers awarded in Munich in February.

“Best Rookie film is where you vote for me,” Roberts said.

She hopes to grow her passion into a fulltime career in ski filmmaking, which was spurred from her time spent as a competitive skier.

Although things have changed since she began five years ago, she found it challenging breaking into the stereotypically all-boys club of skiing, with her talents often reduced to what she called “the token girl” spot on teams.

Originally, she was told over and over again that there was no market for female skiers.

“Things have changed since I started doing this,” she said. “Most of the opportunities were given to guys on the basis that they were the target market. I disagreed. I grew up ski racing and always saw lots of other girls on the mountain. There is a lot more promotion for female athletes, but when I look on a (ski) team website, there are two girls for every 12 guys, I’d like to see that change; be more equal.”

A meeting with filmmaker Lauren Graham confirmed her frustrations and set Roberts off on a new adventure, a creative one that would showcase the female talent riding the mountains.

When the two girls first met, Graham was in the middle of producing an all-female snowboard film called Be The Change You Want to See in the World . Roberts followed in the footsteps of Gandhi and transformed her frustrations into tangible actions of change of her own.

She bought a $1,000 video camera and a computer editing system, and in the same year produced, directed, filmed and edited her first ski film, The Girls Movie , showcasing Whistler’s finest female riding talent. SBC Skier Magazine raved about the film, calling it “The freshest, funnest (SIC), most innovative grassroots ski flick ever.”

The following season, a serious accident left Roberts with a rod and two screws holding her leg together. However, she exercised her filmmaking talents and produced her entry for the Vast Awards.

In addition to the Vast Awards, Roberts is also entering the short film in Whistler-Blackcomb’s What if Ullr was a Girl? competition. The competition tests females’ riding prowess as well as artistic talents in an art competition, big mountain ski contest, and parks and pipe competition.

“The competition shows the public that there are a lot of girls doing stuff that hasn’t been done before,” she said.

The competition also comes with a $25,000 cash award.

Entries can be viewed at . Voting ends Feb. 19 at noon.