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iF3 film festival brings winter stoke—and industry awards—to Whistler

The ski and snowboard film festival returns from Wednesday, Oct. 19 to Saturday, Oct. 22
Blank Collective accept an award for film of the year at the 2021 iF3. The group is back this year to screen its film Feel Real.

At least one good thing came out of the pandemic—if you’re a Whistler-based fan of ski and snowboard films, that is.

While the iF3 festival has been bringing its selection of movies to the resort for many years, last year, its awards ceremony moved from Montreal, too.

“There are a lot more people in the ski industry in Whistler than Montreal,” says Mark Warner, who has hosted the awards for the last several years. “[Last year] I said, ‘We want to make sure iF3 doesn’t fade away because of COVID.’ I took it upon myself to make it happen here. I could see we could make it work.”

It worked so well, the awards will be part of the four-day festival—running from Wednesday, Oct. 19 to Saturday, Oct. 22—again this year.

“We were so happy with how it worked out, we decided to repeat this year and go full-steam ahead with the full festival,” Warner says. “The iF3 awards are the premiere awards in the industry. We’re basically it. If you have a movie and you want it recognized in the industry, it’s iF3.”

While there will be a red carpet and “every person who’s made a film or is in a film who can get here will be here,” the ceremony is just one small part of the festival.

The festivities kick off on Wednesday with a launch party at the Whistler Racket Club. Pow Town Revival: A Showcase of Short Films for Snow People will take place at 7 p.m. for just $5.

“It will be more casual—a house party-style theme,” Warner says. “We want people to come and hang out. We also want to make sure people who can’t afford [pricey] tickets can come out as well. And there are really excellent ski films.”

Thursday night will feature two screenings of the All Girls series, with films highlighting women-driven ski and snowboard films, at the Maury Young Arts Centre.

The all-ages screening at 5 p.m. will include live interviews with producers and athletes from the films. Those interviews will also be livestreamed.

“We’re keeping in line with those virtual events we did,” Warner says. “We’re going to be filming onstage and streaming a live, one-hour panel interview with athletes and filmmakers.”

A second adults-only screening is set for 7:15 p.m.

Friday, meanwhile, will focus on snowboarding. Taking place at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler’s Macdonald Ballroom, the all-ages event will screen eight films starting at 7:30 p.m.

Finally, Saturday will bring all-day activities, starting with two matinees: one at 11 a.m. with iF3’s official selections of ski and snowboard films and another at 1:30 p.m. with completely different films.

Pricing is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.

“We want to get families and kids out to these events,” Warner says.

The big awards gala will follow at 4:15 p.m. with a red carpet and ceremony.

Capping off the one-hour ceremony will be Salomon Night with the Canadian premiere of Feel Real from Blank Collective.  

(The Fifty Project’s Sphinx and Switchback Entertainment’s Tracing Influence will also screen.)

“It’s the hometown premiere of one of the biggest films of the year,” Warner says of the headlining film.

The whole festival will wrap up with an After Party at the Fairmont featuring DJ duo SkiiTour.

“This year will be fun, big, and exciting,” Warner says. “Last year, we had a lot of people from the Sea to Sky corridor come out to the festival—a lot of my friends within the ski industry. What I’m looking forward to this year is people coming from far away—people are coming from Europe, all over the states—and having the extended ski and snowboard community here.”

Passes and tickets for each day and event are on sale now