Navigating the film fest 

A basic how-to guide to the Whistler Film Festival: parties, film premieres and tributes galore

Lights, camera, action… Organizers are gearing up for the 8th annual Whistler Film Festival (WFF), which runs from Wednesday, Dec. 3 until Sunday, Dec. 7, and offers up an impressive array of parties and premieres. And this year, they’re breaking new ground with the festival theme of   “New Terrain.”

“It’s a new theme, but in a way, it kind of sums up what we’ve been doing for the past four years and where the festival has been heading,” said Bill Evans, director of programming for WFF. “We are interested in presenting new films to the general public and also to the film industry in British Columbia.”

They’re hosting more Canadian premieres, and films that are different from those being shown at other film festivals.

“We’re expanding our reach,” Evans added. “We’re showing more films that have come to us from smaller distributors from other festivals like Tribeca, American Film Market, and then in terms of our industry programming we are embracing, I guess, the challenges and opportunities that are presented by new forms of technology that are transforming the industry.”

Evans believes there are even parts of the industry portion of the WFF – the Filmmaker Forum – that will appeal to the film-loving public. One of which is the Director Master Class with Bruce MacDonald, an engaging speaker, and the well-known independent cult director who created, “Hardcore Logo.”

“He’s really kind of a do-it-yourself filmmaker,” Evans explained, “He just picked up a camera and started shooting, didn’t go to film school, didn’t get a government grant, just went out in did it, and I think his kind of approach is something everyone can learn from.”

The Short Film Pitch Session also promises to be entertaining – four short-form filmmakers pitch scripts, with only one walking away with a $15,000 prize to help produce their project.

“Stakes are high, and the winning film from last year is actually going to be playing at the festival this year,” he added.

There are also quite a few special events on the WFF schedule that are perfect for the public.

The opening gala on Thursday, Dec. 4 ($25), features the B.C. premiere of the Michael McGowan directed “One Week,” starring Joshua Jackson.

“Basically, the opening night, it’s a big party,” Evans said.

But the highlight of the festival this year for both the public and members of the industry, Evans speculates, will be the Tribute to Donald Sutherland ($52.50) on Saturday, Dec. 6.

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