Second Whistler Film Festival a success 

Locals look inside the industry

An idea much talked about at this year’s Whistler Film Festival was the emergence of digital video into the mainstream of the film industry. "In the near future, films will move around electronically to cinemas," said Norman Cohn to an audience in the Rainbow Theatre following the screening of his film, Atanarjuat , which won the prestigious Caméra d’Or at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival.

Shooting the film on video allowed Cohn and his crew to avoid what he termed the "hysterics" of a usual movie set.

"If we were to make a film about the Arctic that truly reflected the people, we wanted to do things the way they lived."

The largely Inuit cast and crew lived in igloos, and instead of a honey wagon with catered food, hunters caught fish and seals daily, which were used both as props and meals. Atanarjuat takes an ancient Inuit legend and sets the story of love, betrayal and murder in a contemporary Inuit hunting community.

Michael Moore’s Bowling For Columbine provided a great southern counterpart to Atanarjuat as a look at North American society. While exploring American gun culture in general, and the tragic shooting at Columbine high school in particular, Moore searches for underlying causes to the over 11,000 gun deaths in the U.S. annually. He tours the world’s largest weapons manufacturing plant in Columbine, probes the news media’s penchant for fuelling fear in the populace and miraculously interviews NRA president Charleton Heston in his Hollywood home. The disturbing subject matter is leavened by Moore’s brusque wit, and though he didn’t eat seal meat or live in an igloo while shooting, his guerrilla documentary tactics are as sharp and irreverent as in his first film, Roger and Me .

Cutting edge digital technology was also at the forefront of the other side of Whistler’s Film Festival: the workshops and panel discussions hosted by some of Canada’s leading directors and cinematographers.

"It’s developing a lot of ideas and a lot of talent," said aspiring local film maker Paul Benoit after attending the digital film makers’ workshop. "The technology has become so accessible – 12-year-old kids are writing, shooting and editing their own films. It’s amazing."

Benoit and partner Johnny Thrash could be seen around the festival covering events and interviewing film-goers with their video camera and microphone.

"We did have great films," Thrash said, "but the real treasure chest of this event was local people getting exposed to the film industry in such a personal way."

The festival screened 19 feature films, had over 60 shorts entered in the shorts contest, held the workshops and also screened films of local kids done in conjunction with Cable 6.

"We got the industry to take serious notice of us," festival director Shauna Hardy said after the sold out final screening of Bowling For Columbine . "Mort Ransen, the Director of Margaret’s Museum , said the panel discussion was the best he’s ever sat on."

Fourteen year old local Eryn Doyle edited Mobs , a film created with five friends in the Cable 6 program. Asked how he liked seeing it on the big screen in front of nearly a hundred people, he said, "It was cool. I’d like to do more of it."

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