Whistler Film Festival brings culture to town 

For anyone who has only been in town a few years I can't stress enough what a desolate pit of mediocrity Whistler used to be as far as movies and film went. Back in the day we had three video stores (thankfully) but only one theatre with one screen that was prone to playing the same film twice a night for three weeks in a row. (I saw Jurassic Park six times because my buddy was an usher.)

Once a year the Best of Banff Mountain Film Festival would roll a selection of Mountain-themed flicks through town and that was pretty much it for culture. Forget about ever getting a chance to see something made in B.C. or a European film where the first three minutes of the movie is two chicks making out and then spitting on each other right after.

Thanks to the Whistler Film Festival, however, that European movie is finally here. Attenberg is a Greek film, and before you start pre-buying your tickets I should warn you the girl-on-girl kissing scene is not at all like you are imagining and, yes, it's subtitled.

And weird. Marina is a detached soul who's lost her mother and is on the verge of losing her father. She has only one friend, who is trying to teach her to open up (both literally and figuratively) and perhaps enjoy some human contact. Director Athina Rachel Tsangari, shooting both the scenery and industry of an isolated Greek seaside town, is a very patient filmmaker (probably too patient for most North American audiences) but Attenberg is an interesting character piece about human regression and the animal nature in all of us. Told in that cool/weird/sexy Euro style. It plays Dec 4 at the Village 8.

The fantastic Village 8 is also hosting the world premier of a Vancouver film called Everything Louder than Everything Else made by Rob Leickner and Mona Mok. This one is about the trials and tribulations of a backroom indie recording studio with an uncertain future.

Everything Louder... meanders almost like Jazz. There is a forward driving rhythm but it takes a while to kick in. It's more of an insider's look at a specialized world and the crazy characters that inhabit it than a properly plotted narrative. I guess it's a comedy mostly but with music and valid points to make about the artistic process, integrity vs. profit, and which Pavement album is the best. Everything Louder... is not for everyone although musicians should enjoy it a lot. I'm just stoked to see a film come out of Vancouver that was made organically and not by a bunch of Yanks looking for a tax break. It plays Dec 2.

I mentioned the Banff Fest earlier and A Life Ascending just took the Best Mountain Culture Award there as well as the Audience Award. The film follows legendary ski guide Ruedi Beglinger as he recounts his life and love for the mountains, and deals with the aftermath of a 2003 avalanche that ripped into one of his ski groups and killed seven of his climbers and staff.

Ruedi is a real man of the mountains. He built his own B.C. alpine lodge by hand and is one of the most respected guides in the world. You don't need to have granola crumbs in the pockets of your puffy jacket to appreciate this amazing character and his thoughts on life, loss, risk and what it feels like to be out in the hills. A Life Ascending is also Canadian-made and a custom fit for a community like ours. It plays Dec 4 at Millenium Place.

Regaredless of taste, the Whistler Film Festival is about broadening our cinematic horizons. So be sure and watch some films this Dec. 2-5. Discuss them with your friends and then watch some more, because you don't want to live in the Whistler of old where every December we'd get three weeks of a Robin Williams kids' movie ( Hook in 1991, Toys in '92, Mrs Doubtfire in '93. Ugghhh!)



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