Navigating WFF 

It happens to me every year - I draw up a list of all the cool movies I want to see, then strategically plan a schedule with no overlaps. The perfect Whistler Film Festival timeline with room for fresh turns on the hill.

And then I go to the Whistler Creek Productions party on Friday night and hobnob it up with industry pros, longtime locals and the occasional starlet. Except by "hobnob" I mean pound shots of Jack Daniels chased with double Salty-Dogs. It's always a fantastic night but my first flick on Saturday afternoon inevitably becomes more of a movie/nap.

The amazing thing is that the programming directors somehow account for this when they build their line-up, and always lead with a movie that's intense and engaging enough to entertain - but also paced and quiet enough to sleep through. Last year that film was Nurse Fighter Boy . This year it's Jo Pour Jonathan , which plays at 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 4 at the Village 8.

Don't take that intro the wrong way - Jo Pour Jonathon is not a bad movie by any means. It's gritty and raw and a bit heartbreaking, a brotherly love drama with a seedy streak that's told in a patient, sparse manner full of small-but-real truths.

Made in Quebec, and competing in the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature, Jo Pour Jonathon is very visual, with minimal dialogue and long moody shots and stretches of near silence. It's win-win really, and depending on your energy levels you can either rest up or catch an interesting flick, or a bit of both.

Speaking of staying awake, it's worth it to hit the special late night screenings for the weird, cool, off-the-beaten track stuff you might not get during "decent-person" hours.

Thursday night, Dec. 2 at 11:15 p.m. is the 10 th anniversary screening of Ski Bums . This is a film with many fans in Whistler, and not just because it was made here and stars people we know - or because it was the first movie ever shown at the first Whistler Film Festival - but for the reason that it totally justifies the local character and lifestyle. Who knew we all had a little Johnny Thrash in us?

Doors open at 10 p.m. for this one at the Conference centre, and it's a free screening. Show up in your best "Gaper" outfit and enter to win free beer, potato chips and ski and snowboard gear. This is gonna be a party.

Friday's late-night is no slouch either, starting at 11:30 p.m. with Early Evening of Meth Head Hipsters , a Vancouver-made short that took grand prize at the Heavy Hitting B-Grade Horrorfest this year. Bicycles, disembowelment, wet t-shirts, meth and trucker hats don't get better than this.

The feature presentation is Beyond the Black Rainbow, a crazy, visual big-brother acid trip of a movie with a soundtrack draped with big, heavy sci-fi bass hits. This one also plays at the Conference centre

Late night Saturday goes down at the Village 8 with Vanishing on 7 th Street , a nifty little end-of-the-world film starring Hayden Christensen, John Leguizamo and Thandie Newton as survivors of the day the lights went out.  I haven't seen a screener but this one looks like creepy B-grade fun. It starts at 11:45 p.m.

Ski Bums director Johnny Zaritsky has another film playing this weekend. Leave Them Laughing is about a terminally-ill woman's refusal to go down without some comedy. It plays Sunday afternoon and then the festival closes that night with 2 Frogs in the West - a coming-of-age feature filmed right here in town that should also speak to more than a few Whistler locals.

The screens are full of film and hills are covered in pow and the Whistler Creek Productions party is Friday night at the GLC. Does it get any better than this?



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