Romance week vs. festival fun 

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It's sappy romance week at the Whistler Village 8 and the Garibaldi 5 in Squamish as the latest big-screen adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book drops this Friday. Sparks is the author of such bodice-ripping-novels I've never read as The Notebook, The Last Song, Nights in Rodanthe and Dear John and Hollywood studios love that his stories come with a built-in literary audience.

It goes without saying I haven't seen this Sparks tale, The Lucky One, but it seems to be about an Iraq soldier (Zac Efron) who sees a photograph amongst some rubble, walks over to it and then where he was just standing is hit with a missile and explodes. The photo, of a blonde chick, essentially saves his life so Efron makes it his next mission to find her, stalk her, and solve all her problems before finally bedding her, probably in the rain or some other watery locale. The Lucky One appears to be about the journey to become friends, then trust each other and then fall in love (which is pretty much the opposite of how we do things up here in Whistler).

Speaking of home sweet home, the local filmmakers were in full effect on Tuesday night for the 11th annual Filmmaker Showdown at the TELUS World Ski & Snowboard Festival, with eight of the 10 finalists having strong local ties.

Saddled with only 72 hours to film/edit/create a three-to-five minute movie, the sleep-deprived teams also had to incorporate a prop into their films, a child's Styrofoam glider toy, to make things a bit more difficult and encourage on-the-spot creativity (as well as to prove the films were made in the three days).

LA-based filmmaker Andrew Putschoegl exemplified the keep-it-simple mantra with his flick Lady Beast, an almost-love story with just one actor playing two roles (and genders). Local Harley Francis stayed up for 40 hours straight while editing InstaCam, a cutting social commentary on the proliferation of smart phone apps that essentially make everyone into a photographer, DJ, filmmaker, etc.

Rebecca Wood-Barrett won the hearts of the audience (and a $1,000 gift certificate for the State of the Art show) with Rush, an intervention-esque look at one young man's love for the lost art of ski ballet. Austin Ross absolutely shone in the main role and if there were a best costumes category Rebecca would have taken that as well. Gold.

Comedy always plays well at the World Ski & Snowboard Festival events and Pete Thompson and Pete Whitaker got plenty of laughs with their reworking of the genie-in-a-bottle concept in Draw Anything, a wish-fulfillment love-triangle featuring a magic whiteboard and a slick dance number.

Karim Ladki and Joao Carlos headed an international team with members from Seattle, DC, Portugal and Whistler for their sit-ski epic Sticks, Spokes and Broken Bones. Vancouver's June Park and Gilbert Giacomini brought a sharp human element with Something That Needs Attention and Adam Teolis told the classic Whistler tale of moving to town and trying to escape the bubble in Just One Season. Good Times, by Jonathon Peterson and Chad Hamilton, took a gritty look into the little-known subculture of super extreme GT-Snowracering and all-in-all the local filmmakers shone.

But there could be only one champion: Mark O'Krafka's Zero took home thetop prize.

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