Celluloid local heroes 

First Whistler Film Festival aims to open new market

Take two! The reels at the first Whistler Film Festival at last get rolling, Nov. 14 through 18.

"We recognize there’s a voice, and a drive-to market (for this festival) – Sept. 11 put a lot of pressure on the business community because of cancellations, and the opportunity is still there for us to unfold the event," says Shauna Hardy, sales and marketing guru for the festival.

Together with Kasi Lubin, festival producer, they have spearheaded a move to get the festival up and running after a false start last spring left an audience in the dark.

"We didn’t know how much was involved. We’re really a two-woman show at the moment, but we hope by establishing credibility with film bodies like Showcase, the NFB, and Moving Pictures we can grow the festival and expand its lineup into international markets as well," says Hardy.

The WFF has been developing package deal promotions to moviegoers, like the two-night, six-film combo for $149 per person available through Tourism Whistler.

Hardy got involved by responding to an ad placed by Moving Pictures’ director Michael Ghent, piquing interest in a future festival. The goal of the Moving Pictures: Canadian Films on Tour festival package is to bring Canadian films to local audiences, while assisting filmmakers with fund-raising schemes and distribution. Now going into its ninth season, Moving Pictures has brought films to Whistler in previous years during the World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

The Mountain Film Series is another arm of the Whistler Film Festival, and features films with local content or subjects. As part of the series, local filmmakers have been invited to submit short films of 10 minutes or less.

Ski Bums, the National Film Board production shot in Whistler, is a feature-length film that kicks off the WFF on Nov. 14, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the Sea Ballroom of the Whistler Conference Centre. Tickets are $10.

Hardy describes Ski Bums as, "Not a typical ski movie – I like to call it ski porn – everyone gets out there and they just rip it up. The film goes deep into people’s lives."

In Ski Bums , locals Johnny Thrash, Christian Begin and director John Zaritsky celebrate the alternative lifestyle and powder of Whistler on 35mm print.

The Moving Pictures portion of the festival now includes 12 films. Bruce Sweeney’s latest, Café Ole , is a romantic comedy starring Spanish actress Laia Marull. Natural born killer Woody Harrelson kicks back as narrator for Ron Mann’s documentary on recreational marijuana use, aptly named Grass . French-Canadian Dennis Villeneuve presents Maelstrom , winner of the Genie Award for best Canadian film, the story of a beautiful young woman who accidentally takes the life of one man while unknowingly saving the life of another. Maelstrom is billed as "sexy and moving."

We All Fall Down, from B.C. director Martin Cummins, is a tale of eastside tragedy that examines the life of a self-destructive artist (Cummins), his best friend (Darcy Belsher), and his girlfriend Ryan (Francoise Robertson) as they explore how their relationships intertwine.

Tied to the computer? Gary Burns takes Dilbert to film by looking at the funny characters that fill "office life" in Waydowntown , winner of audience choice awards across the country.

Moving Pictures: Canadian Films on Tour runs Nov. 15 through 19 daily. Tickets for all WFF events are available at the Whistler Activity and Information Centre, at 604-932-2394, and at Nesters Market. A three-film pass will cost you $21, a six-film pass is $42,and a festival film pass costs $84.

The festival is still looking for volunteers in a variety of departments. For more information contact Lubin at 604-905-3995 or e-mail, kasilubin@whistlerbc.net.

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