It’s the people that make a place 

From ski bumming to business, Whistler doc premieres Feb. 22

By Vivian Moreau

What: Community Now: Year Three film

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: Thursday, Feb. 22

Jehanne Burns is excited about premiering the third in a series of documentaries that examine Whistler’s sense of self.

Whistler Museum’s program and promotion’s coordinator said this year’s 35-minute film looks at 30- and 40-somethings: people that came to Whistler and decided to make it home. Burns said choosing to call Whistler home is a phenomenon unique to the ski resort town.

“You think about any other city in Canada and most of the population is in that city because they were born there or they went there for a job,” Burns said. “But in Whistler it’s a very conscious decision to be here and to stay.”

Produced by local filmmakers Nicole Fitzgerald and Brian Hockenstein, the film captures the stories of people such as Ken Melamed who grew from 1980s powder hound to family man and Whistler’s mayor, as well as Doug Craig, more famously known as Guitar Doug of The Hairfarmers, who squatted for eight years to live the ski bum dream and now more than 20 years later has become a legendary fixture in Whistler’s live music scene.

Other storytellers to look forward to include Olympian Ross Rebagliati, actor Michelle Bush, journalist Leslie Anthony, Whistler Adaptive Ski Program director Chelsea Walker, business owner Colin Pitt-Taylor and Whistler Mountain ski coach Jordan Williams.

Burns said Whistler’s magic influences every age group.

“You see all the demographics here and it’s really interesting to see that passion exists in everyone,” Burns said.

Third in a series of four Community Now films about the people of Whistler , this year’s film, From ski bumming to business: Locals expose retro Whistler will premier Thursday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at MY Millennium Place. The screening will be followed by a reception with music from The Hairfarmers.

The film is backed by the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the provincial government, Whistler Arts Council and Bell Canada as part of Celebration 2010, a Games-focused month-long arts and culture festival .

Two previous films examined Whistler’s senior and youth populations. All four films will be integrated into a full-length documentary that will screen at different venues during the 2010 Winter Games.

Co-producer Brian Hockenstein, who worked on the museum’s two previous films, says it’s necessary to preserve Whistler’s stories.

“Especially in the lead-up to the Olympics its going to be very important to convey to the world that, hey this isn’t just some ski town that was plopped down here, there’s a story, there’s a history,” Hockenstein said.

The museum says the project is also a chance to let people know that Whistler Museum is more than antique skis on a wall. Like other museums across the country, the museum has figured out highlighting the present is just as important as explaining the past.

“People really think of a museum as something that preserves the past and that we only have old things but that’s not true,” Burns said. “What the museum does do is preserve now and we’re really focussed on what is special about what is going on in the community now,” Burns said.

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