WSSF wraps up successful arts and music events 

'One of the best' years yet: festival producer

click to enlarge PHOTO BY ALYSSA NOEL - big showdownThe five photographers competing in this year's Pro Photographer Showdown wait as host (and freeski legend) Mike Douglas reveals the winner.
  • Photo by Alyssa Noel
  • big showdownThe five photographers competing in this year's Pro Photographer Showdown wait as host (and freeski legend) Mike Douglas reveals the winner.

You're allowed to sleep now.

The prize money has been handed out, the artists have packed up their exhibits, the musical acts are long gone onto their next tour stop and the World Ski and Snowboard Festival is done for another year.

"It went fantastic," said Sue Eckersley, the festival's producer, of the arts and music events. "We had sold out events. I heard a lot of great reviews from people, specifically with Pro Photographer Showdown, the 72hr. Filmmaker Showdown and Intersection. We're feeling pretty good."

The winners for the latter two events were chosen last Thursday and Friday in front of packed crowds. Veteran snowboard photographer Andy Wright won Pro Photo with his collection of career-spanning images, many of which featured snowboarders in urban areas. After hoisting the giant $10,000 novelty cheque, he told

Pique that preparing his nine-minute slideshow for the competition was "painful and fun at the same time."

"It's weird because I feel like my photography has changed a lot over the years," he said. "It's the recent stuff I'm more interested in and then classics, they stuck out in my mind... I always thought I would maybe do this at the end of my career, (but) I came to the show a couple years ago and I thought maybe it'd be better to do it while it's still timely and (the photos) still have some impact."

The event also featured slideshows by four other professional photographers from around the world. The audience chose surf photographer Chris Burkard as the People's Choice winner.

On Friday, University of British Columbia film student Leo Zuckerman swept Intersection, winning both the $15,000 Best in Show prize and the People's Choice award for his short film. "We knew People's Choice first, so that was pretty nice to see," he said after the win. "I guess it all worked out. People liked it. The judges liked it. Everyone liked it, I guess. I couldn't ask for anything more."

While Wright mused that he might spend his winnings on a sailboat, Zuckerman had a different idea. "I'm going to invest it in my stock portfolio," he said, jokingly. "There's a 10 per cent rule: 10 per cent is going tonight. The rest of it will be (for) my team and I'll invest the rest in my next film project."

After spreading that money around the village, Zuckerman said he had to rush back to Vancouver where he needed to hit the books in time to prepare for his final exams. He has one year left in film school. "It's more of a feature film education," he said. "It's pretty cool still. People (at school) will be impressed."

The other big cheque was handed out to Conrad Schapansky for his short film Katch Up as part of the 72hr. Filmmaker Showdown screening last Tuesday night. People's Choice went to Angie Nolan and Katie Schaitel for Adventures in Loonie Land.

Other up-and-comers hit the main stage for the festival's free concert series at Skier's Plaza during the afternoon slots throughout the week. While there were sparse crowds for lesser-known acts, the evening headliners drew big audiences, Eckersley said. "The Nas show, I don't think there's ever been a bigger music show in town," she said. "On top of that, it was a really great crowd, well behaved. I was happy with the turnout all around. Even in the rain people were checking out shows."

The one blip was k-os opening his set with an expletive after he was briefed that the concert was all ages, Eckersley said. "We talk to the performers about not swearing and such," she said. "We were disappointed with that show."

Overall, though, organizers are happy with the musical acts they were able to attract with the Festivals Events and Animation funding they received from the Resort Municipality of Whistler. Eckersley has been open about how important it was for the festival to impress potential sponsors this year — its first in many without Telus as the title sponsor. They "delivered," she said. "It was arguably one of the best ever. We've heard from a ton of attendees who are happy."

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