Whistler Film Festival shows Olympic legacy short movies in schools 

The Whistler Story Collection shows short movies about the region in the run-up to the 2010 Games

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Whistler kids are getting a lasting benefit from the Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

The Whistler Story Collection is an impressive range of 22 five-minute films about the region, telling its stories and introducing the people who have made it grow.

The executive director of WFF, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, says WFF put this collection of shorts together from 2005 to 2010 as an Olympic legacy project.

Age appropriate films from the collection will be shown to elementary students at Myrtle Philip Community School and Whistler Secondary School on Nov. 29 and at Spring Creek Community School on Dec. 2.

The program includes several Whistler Stories filmmakers, who will share their experiences of making the shorts.

"This is our way of sharing Whistler stories," said Hardy Mishaw, who has two children at Myrtle Philip. "We really wanted to find a way to touch the kids in the schools.... This is a way for us to connect local filmmakers to the schools. It was a cool way for us to go in and show how to make a film."

The idea came out of a conversation Hardy Mishaw had with the principal of Myrtle Philip, Jeff Maynard, who jumped at the chance.

"I reached out to the other schools and they were all super keen and the filmmakers were happy, too. It's really a fun way for us to connect with the kids in the corridor and share them," she says.

"We had to be very specific with choosing the right ones out of the 22 films. Four of them are youth films, from a youth film project. And we chose others that were age specific. There is a bit of an evolved program for Whistler Secondary students, who are a bit more mature."

Many of the films are also being shown as part of the WFF during the free outdoor screening Whistler Presents: Winter Kickoff, at Skiers Plaza. It takes place on Dec. 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Whistler Stories was a commissioned film program that ran for five years, with the selected filmmakers being given $5,000 to make their short commissions.

Filmmaker Angie Nolan works for the festival and has two films in the Whistler Stories Collection. Hairfarmin' is the story of Whistler music legends The Hairfarmers, and The Great Pemberton Potato Story, made with local teens, tells the story of Pemberton Valley's most important asset, apart from its stunning scenery.

"It's exciting to be a part of this, though I think the one they will be showing at the schools isn't really even mine, it was made with local youths. In The Great Pemberton Potato Story, the kids did all the work. I just helped them piece it all together," Nolan says.

"I've been with the festival for 10 years and we've always tried to do something special to bring films into schools."

It helps develop a natural love for films and filmmaking in Whistler and beyond, she adds.

Director Ivan Hughes of Fringe Filmworks made two shorts now part of the collection.

"Our culture is passed on to the next generation by the stories we tell and I'm thankful that I was given the opportunity to be a part of it. It's great to be a part of the festival," he says

One film, Speedbumps, tells the story of Whistler's history of Olympic bids. The other, The Luger, tells the story of Sam Edney, a member of the Canadian Luge Team.

"The whole idea of making films is to tell a story and share some of the insights gained," Hughes says. "Having the films shown to students reinforces this feeling. Hopefully, it inspires them to learn more about the topics or possibly even to make their own stories."

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