The 15th anniversary of what’s considered ‘Canada’s coolest film festival’ is rapidly approaching. The 2015 Whistler Film Festival (WFF) will take place December 2 to 6 with new films,
special guests, industry connections, great events and time to enjoy on of North America’s premiere mountain resort destinations. WFF
has announced its first 18 confirmed films, plus industry and event programming
The Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with a focused industry Summit dedicated to the art and business of
filmmaking in the digital age. Featuring over 80 innovative and original films from around the world and opportunities to connect with the people who made
them, this year’s fest will be filled with a solid lineup of premieres, honored guests, lively celebrations, and unique industry initiatives.
Director of Programming and industry veteran Paul Gratton had this to say about the 2015 lineup confirmed to date: “The Whistler Film Festival continues to
be a must-attend event for hip, young, film buffs and emerging filmmakers, and we are pleased to carve out our own unique niche by offering an impressive
selection of Canadian premieres. This year’s titles cast a wide net in terms of subject matter, and our Summit will complement our film programming by
addressing key challenges and opportunities facing the industry this year. WFF15 has something for everyone. “While our final line-up of titles is far from
complete, early programming trends suggest a very strong year for female directors and innovative new voices from young directors hoping to find new ways
of telling stories and connecting with audiences.”
A great example of innovation will be the World Premiere screening of Daniel Robinson’s “Nestor,” the first
narrative feature ever made by one person, who wrote, produced, directed, edited and stars in this compelling tale of outdoor survival.
Another example of
seeking out new narrative approaches, and leading this year’s women directors present at Whistler, is DIY queen Ingrid Veninger’s latest “He Hated Pigeons”
about a young man pushed to the border of sanity as he steps into manhood. Shot in South America, the film is designed to support a spontaneous
live score to be performed during the screening. In other words, each screening will evoke different responses depending on the approach taken by the live
musicians accompanying the showing. Other female directed highlights coming to Whistler include the World Premiere of Vancouver filmmaker Melanie Jones’ “FSM,” a
contemporary study of a female DJ trying to find love in a world of technological innovation and all-night raves.
Continuing its love of quirky musicals,
WFF will present the Western Canadian premiere of Jude Klassen’s debut feature film “Love in the Sixth,” an unromantic musical comedy of “enviromantic”
angst. Another Canadian Premiere is Valerie Weiss’ “A Lights Beneath Their Feet,” a superb study of the mutually dependent relationship between a young student hoping to leave home for college and her bipolar mother who can’t cope with the thought of letting her go. Taryn
Manning, Maddie Hasson and Madison Davenport lead the cast. Another moving look at mother/daughter relationships can be found in the World Premiere of
Siobhan Devine’s “The Birdwatcher,” a family drama about a mother and daughter reconnecting starring WFF14 Rising Star Camille Sullivan and Gabrielle Rose.
Jeremy Lalonde’s “How to Plan an Orgy in a Small Town,” featuring Lauren Holly and Katharine Isabelle; and Sergio
Navarretta’s “The Colossal Failure of the Modern Relationship,” set during a mouth-watering winetasting tour of the Niagara region; focus on the challenge of maintaining interpersonal relationships. Darker still is the
Canadian Premiere of Josh Hope’s “The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man,” in which a disillusioned young man decides to visit his past to see where
it all went wrong. Brian Stockton’s “The Sabbatical” is a comedic look at a photography professor’s mid-life crisis and a young artist who rekindles the lost
spirit of his youth, and Matthew Yim’s “Basic Human Needs” follows a young couple whose plans to get out of Regina are thwarted by a missing prophylactic.
BC’s own Fred Ewanuick stars as a man who can see two minutes into the future in Vancouver filmmaker O. Corbin Saleken’s first feature
BC based genre specialist Jeffery Lando will be gracing the late night screens with the Western Canadian Premiere of his latest horror work “Suspension.” John Ainslie will be unveiling the World premiere of his tense psychological thriller “The Sublet,” about a new mother unraveling
psychologically after and she and her fiance move into a sublet apartment, featuring Vancouver actress Tianna Nori in the lead.
On the documentary front,
WFF will be presenting the North American premiere of Jan Foukal’s “Amerika,” a lyrical look at a unique Eastern European phenomenon known as ‘tramping’, as
Vancouver-based Barbara Adler takes us on a mission into the mountains and the forests of the Czech Republic where she encounters social dropouts who
choose to live what they consider to be a North American back-to-the-wilderness lifestyle. “Last Harvest,” from director Jane Hui Wang, is a Canadian
documentary feature that looks at an elderly Chinese couple forced to relocate by the government to make way for a mammoth water diversion project. Also,
on the international front, Whistler is proud to present the Canadian Premiere of “Blood Cells” by Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore about a lost man wandering
through the British countryside, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival.
Whistler is pleased to feature the best of Quebec cinema, and this year the festival has two titles already lined up. Bernard Emond’s “Diary of an Old Man” is a deeply moving adaptation of an Anton Chekov story about an old man fighting feelings of bitterness despite his privileged life as an academic,
starring Paul Savoie in a Canada Screen Awards worthy performance. Finally, a haunting look at childhood innocence, at risk from the evils of an
outside world is Philippe Lesage’s “The Demons” starring Pascale Bussières and Laurent Lucas, about a tight-knit small-town community beset by a child serial
Celebrating its 12th edition in 2015, WFF’s coveted Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature honors independent vision, original directorial style
and the diversity of talent found in Canadian independent film. New for 2015, all Canadian feature films in the festival with Western Canadian premiere
status will be included in the Borsos Competition and there is no longer a six film restriction to the number that can compete. An international jury of
three will decide on four awards including a $15,000 CDN prize.
WFF’s slate of special events confirmed to date include the Opening
and Closing Galas, Signature Series including the Pandora Tribute and Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch In Conversation, ShortWork Showdown, Awards Brunch
and a grand15th Anniversary Celebration, with more to come.
New for 2015, WFF introduces the L’Oreal Mens Expert Bobsleigh Race on December 3 at the
Whistler Sliding Centre, one of the fastest tracks in the world, where celebrities, filmmakers, VIP guests and corporate teams will experience the thrill
of a lifetime reaching speeds up to 125 km per hour. And the adrenaline continues to flow with WFF’s annual Columbia Celebrity Challenge on December 5,
with corporate teams and festival guests joining the stars of the screen and the stars of the slopes in a fun, guess your time, dual slalom race on
Whistler Mountain. Proceeds from these fun-raising” events will support WFF’s annual programs for Canadian artists, including the industry initiatives,
labs and festival.
Film meets music at WFF’s Music Café, which has expanded to two days to include an evening showcase on December 4, and daytime showcase
and dedicated industry panel on December 5, with the possibility of additional performances during the festival. Up to 10 export-ready British Columbia
songwriters and artists from across the musical spectrum will be selected to each play a live 20-minute set and meet with key international music and film
executives and delegates attending the festival.
WFF’s Industry Summit will feature three concentrated days of business programs and networking that
address the business and future of Canadian film, locally and in the international marketplace, as well as the ever-changing landscape of filmmaking in the
digital age. Featuring over 20 interactive sessions, WFF’s Summit is designed to provide practical business and creative intel, and foster business
collaborations for filmmakers and deal-makers. Offering in-depth conversations, lively debates and critical insight into a broad range of issues vital to
the domestic and international film communities while addressing crossing borders and platforms, Whistler is the place to be, connect and deal this
December. 1,000 delegates are expected to attend.
The Whistler Summit directly connects to WFF’s slate of project development programs designed to provide
creative and business immersion experiences for Canadian artists including the Feature Project Lab, Praxis Screenwriters Lab, Aboriginal Filmmaker
Fellowship and Music Café. WFF also collaborates with several industry organizations by hosting specific third party initiatives at the Whistler Summit
including the Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch, Women in the Directors Chair Industry Immersion, Women in Film & Television Film Market Preparation
Mentorship, and the MPPIA Short Film Award Pitch with the Motion Picture Production Industry Association and Creative BC. Application details and
information for all WFF industry and project development programs are available at whistlerfilmfestival.com.