Whistler Film Festival an industry affair 

Ninth annual film festival Forum offers valuable networking, professional opportunities


While the Whistler Film Festival offers a great opportunity to check out cutting-edge, independent films, there's also another, equally important side to the annual event: the industry aspect.

"Because there's such a great wealth of professionals working in the entertainment industry and particularly film, television and new media in Vancouver, we feel that the Whistler Film Festival is a really great opportunity to bring a lot of these people together for business," said Angela Heck.

Heck is Forum manager for the Whistler Film Festival. She's been formally involved in the festival for three years and attending since it was started in 2001.

"It's only gotten stronger," Heck said of the festival.

The purpose of the Forum is to forge alliances, create new partnerships and provide networking and professional development opportunities for emerging, mid-level and established industry members.

"For the industry, we focus on independent film production, we also look at television and this year more than ever we're focusing on new media and digital media creation and production," Heck said.

She likens the shift towards digital media in film and television to the recent transformation in the music industry, moving from tangible products like CDs to digital file sharing.

"The whole industry has to embrace the opportunities that digital media afford not only for creation, for your actual 'webisodes' and things like that, but also in terms of the distribution and marketing of existing product," she added.

"...It's been described more than once as the 'Wild West' at this point, so what we're really trying to do at the Forum this year is really provide openings and introductions to this for people who might not have had that experience before."

The 2009 Forum includes 15 sessions for film, television and the digital media industry, exploring everything from the basics of getting a film made, distribution and marketing to more timely topics, like copyright and the future of content. They're also hosting a new panel discussion that is open to the public, looking at the impact that YouTube has on Canadian culture.

"I think that's going to be a really interesting discussion," Heck said.

Organizers are also hoping to build the North-South relationship for Canadian filmmakers, bringing more people up from Los Angeles to see what's on offer here in Western Canada.

"We really want to call attention to Canadian talent south of the border, as well. So to put our people in front of the U.S. market is really important," Heck said.

The majority of this year's Forum events take place during the day, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Dec. 3-5, the Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the festival. And on top of all the seminars and workshops, there's also the formal and informal networking opportunities, like one-on-one and round table sessions, that come along with the event, which have led to many significant deals, projects and partnerships in the past.

" 65 Red Roses , which is a really acclaimed documentary making the rounds right now, was first pitched at Pitchfest West a few years ago," Heck pointed out.

This year's festival has attracted some well-known industry players, like Sony Worldwide Entertainment, Discovery Channel, PBS and 20 th Century Fox Searchlight.

"The whole energy of the place is really important for progressing the business of it, too," Heck said. "So the filmmakers will come and they'll present their film, but that's only their latest project; one would hope that they go on to make many more films after this."


A bit of Banff in Whistler

For the 19 th year running, the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour is rolling into Whistler.

Starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 27 and Saturday, Nov. 28, The Escape Route hosts a series of films at the Rainbow Theatre from the Best of the Banff Mountain Film Festival to help kick off the winter season.

This year, the tour features an inspiring collection of films packed with action, adventure and environmental themes, exploring remote landscapes and cultures from around the world and the adrenaline junkies that get their fix through extreme sports.

The tour is produced by Mountain Culture at The Banff Centre, which selects award-winning picks and audience favourites from almost 300 films entered in the annual festival.

This year's list includes Africa Revolutions Tour , a white water kayaking and international development short, Hunlen , an ice climbing film, and the mountain biking film, Kranked - Revolve , just to name a few.

For a full list of the films at this year's festival, or to purchase tickets, contact The Escape Route at 604-938-3228.



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