Film Fest lineup announced 

Craig Kelly's snowboarding story, Let it Ride, tops list

By Nicole Fitzgerald

The Whistler Film Festival announced a five-year partnership with American Express, along with the programming for the 6 th annual festival earlier this week in Vancouver.

“We are thrilled to have a five year deal with American Express as the presenting sponsor,” said festival director Shauna Hardy Mishaw. “It took six years to get to a place where we were able to do that. It is critical for us as a non-profit to ensure the viability for the event to move forward. We are locked and loaded for the next five years.”

This year’s Whistler Film Festival, Nov. 30 to Dec. 3, fires off with a bang with a special advance gala screening of Jacques Russo’s Let It Ride! The funny, exhilarating and tragic story tells the tale of Craig Kelly, a legendary big-mountain, backcountry snowboarder.

Festival officials expect a sellout. The festival’s first gala screening, Ski Bums in 2002, drew more than 1,300 people — the largest screening ever for a National Film Board film.

“We always try to program films of interest to the community,” Hardy Mishaw said. “Not just the sports world, but a wide range of topics.”

She noted documentaries are always a hot ticket item at the festival.

The festival screens 93 films, including 25 premieres, over three days this year, with lots of documentaries as well as features and short films to look forward to.

Liam Walsh’s mountain culture documentary Pipe Dream follows snowboarders Dan Raymond and Crispin Lipscomb on their journey from snowboard instructors to the 2006 Torino Winter Olympics. Also premiering at the festival, Carolyn Allain’s A Safer Sex Trade, which explores the stigma of prostitution, and Barbara Lee’s Between the Laughter, which follows a hearing-impaired comic.

Among the documentaries making their Canadian premieres are Alexandra Lipsitz’s Air Guitar Nation, Mark Harvey’s A Land Out of Time and Brooke Goldstein and Alistair Leyland’s The Making of a Martyr.

Among the B.C. documentaries premiering are John Paskivich’s Unspeakable, which examines the nature, history and treatment of stuttering; and Michael Dayan’s Glimpses of Heaven, a film about artists who turn their pain-filled histories into life-giving art.

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