Dreyfuss, Leo and Priestley honoured at Whistler Film Festival 

Actors in conversation; Variety brings 10 Screenwriters to Watch to WFF for second year

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK PHOTO MONTAGE - Oscar Winners in Whistler: Richard Dreyfuss and Melissa Leo.
  • Shutterstock photo montage
  • Oscar Winners in Whistler: Richard Dreyfuss and Melissa Leo.

Oscar winners Richard Dreyfuss and Melissa Leo are coming to the Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

“We’re very excited about this year’s festival. It looks like we’re continuing to grow and attracting a lot of industry interest,” says Whistler Film Festival’s director of programming Paul Gratton.

Dreyfuss is the 2013 Tribute honouree. The winner of two best actor Oscars for The Goodbye Girl and Mr. Holland’s Opus and with roles in such iconic films as American Graffiti, Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, he will be in conversation with Steven Gaydos, Variety magazine’s vice president and executive editor, on Dec. 6.

Dreyfuss is attending with his latest film Cas & Dylan, the directorial debut of Canadian filmmaker Jason Priestley.

A well-known TV and film star in his own right thanks in part to Beverly Hills, 90210, Vancouver-born Priestley will be In Conversation with CBC entertainment talk show host par excellence George Stromboloupolous on Dec. 7. Priestley's film Cas & Dylan is WFF’s opening gala film and a contender in the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature at WFF.

Leo is this year’s Luminary honouree for the festival’s Spotlight On segment, one of three actors recognized. She won a best supporting actress Oscar for The Fighter in 2010. She is attending the festival with a special presentation of her new thriller Prisoners by Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, in which she stars opposite Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal.

The Spotlight On selectees as “Stars to Watch” are Canadian talents Ali Liebert, who has 50 film credits to her name and was named earlier this year as an International Star You Should Know by Variety, and Emily Hampshire, who is on this year’s Borsos judging panel and whose film My Awkward Sexual Adventure won last year’s WFF Audience Award. Most recently she starred in All the Wrong Reasons, alongside Kevin Zegers and the late Cory Monteith.

Spotlight On is an evening of conversation on Dec. 5. Presented by ELLE Canada, it will coincide with the premiere of the magazine’s Fashion Film Competition finalists.

Gratton adds that there is also greater emphasis this year on Canadian film distribution, with executives increasingly seeing WFF as a place to do business.

“That’s good for the film festival because getting the senior executives out, having them absorb the excitement and the vibe of the festival and its youthful energy will hopefully inspire them to give even bigger and better titles in the years to come,” Gratton says, adding that some films from last year got picked up for national distribution because of this.

“We’re becoming an event late in the fall festival calendar. We’re now the last significant film festival of the season and the position in terms of serving as a memory aid to Oscar voters is also something we try to exploit.”

And for the second year running, WFF honours screenwriting talent by hosting Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch. The selectees will be named in the Nov. 26 issue of the magazine.

Those able to come to Whistler will share their personal stories and the challenges related to succeeding in today’s film industry.

They will be interviewed by Gaydos in an afternoon event on Dec. 7 and presented with awards at the WFF awards brunch on Dec. 8.

Along with Hampshire, this year’s Borsos jury is made up of Oscar-nominated producer Luc Déry, writer and film critic Brian D. Johnson. The trio will present the $15,000 Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature, the second largest cash prize for a Canadian film in the country, as well as the award for Best Performance in a Borsos Competition Film.

On the World Documentary jury are writer, producer, and director Anne Wheeler, filmmaker and national president of the Directors Guild of Canada Sturla Gunnarsson, and celebrated Canadian First Nations actress Tantoo Cardinal.

The Mountain Culture jury includes extreme sports athlete, Tim Emmett, writer Michel Beaudry, and professional stuntwoman Sabine Varnes-Schapansky.

The ShortWork jury includes award-winning actor Ian Tracey, award-winning director and producer Michelle Ouellet, and actress and filmmaker Sharai Rewels.

For more information visit www.whistlerfilmfestival.com.


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