By Peter Belsito | SydneysBuzz August 15, 2014 at 2:00PM
The countdown has begun to Whistler’s 14th annual cinematic celebration. The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) returns December 3 to 7, 2014 and with just 16 weeks to go, the Festival is proud to offer a sneak peek at the first round of confirmed films and industry program highlights.
Located in North America’s premiere destination mountain resort, the Whistler Film Festival combines an international film competition with a screen-based industry Summit to address the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age. The Festival hosts filmmaking luminaries for an intimate, five-day program featuring up to 90 original films from Canada and around the world, including filmmaker tributes, special events and industry initiatives. Recognized by filmmakers and film lovers alike as one of Canada’s most important showcases for film, WFF is a place where artists are celebrated, audiences are inspired, new ideas are discussed and business opportunities are solidified.
WFF’s Director of Programming and industry veteran Paul Gratton has this to say about the 2014 lineup: "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 will 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. WFF will have something for everyone.”
The Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature presented by the Directors Guild of Canada, British Columbia celebrates its 11th anniversary this year offering the second largest cash film festival prize for a Canadian film in the country, with additional awards for Best Performance, Best Screenwriting and Best Direction.
Opening the Borsos competition this year will be the World Premiere of Cameron Labine’s BC filmed comedy "Mountain Men" starring Chace Crawford and Tyler Labine as estranged brothers who journey to their family cabin in the middle of winter. When the cabin accidentally burns to the ground, what started as a fun weekend quickly goes from bad to worse. The brothers find themselves fighting for survival as they perilously try to find their way down the mountain, all while rehashing family memories and challenged by sibling rivalry.
The breathtaking scenery of Nova Scotia is showcased in WFF's second Borsos competition film, the Western Premiere of "Relative Happiness" directed by first-time, female feature filmmaker Deanne Foley. Starring Australian actress Melissa Bergland and WFF alumni Aaron Poole, the romantic comedy tells the story of feisty but somewhat oversized bed and breakfast owner Lexie Ivy, who is tasked with finding a date to her sister’s wedding.
Other confirmed films include the World Premiere of the hilarious mockumentary "After Film School," by Vancouver filmmaker Joel Ashton McCarthy, who enlisted the help of over 100 local volunteers and featured original music from local musicians. It asks the question of young filmmakers everywhere, “What happens after film school?” The answer is a movie within a movie: "High School Shootings: The Musical."
"The Cocksure Lads Movie," also having its World Premiere at WFF14, is a fun musical in the style of Cliff Richards about a British boy band that travels to Toronto for a gig, only to split up hours after landing. Directed by Murray Foster, a former member of band Moxy Fruvous, the film features songs written by Murray over a twenty-year period in honor of his love for 1960s Britpop.
Canadian premieres include the comedy thriller "What an Idiot" from Vancouver husband-wife duo Peter and Julia Benson, featuring the story of a man pretending to be gay to get near his hot, new boss at work, and documentary "That Guy Dick Miller," chronicling the life of veteran character actor Dick Miller, which had its World Premiere at South by Southwest this year.
WFF’s World Documentary Competition will include "The Backward Class," the 2014 Audience Award winner at Hot Docs that follows a class of poverty-stricken children from India’s “untouchable class” as they are separated from their families for more than 13 years to receive an education, facing the pressure to succeed while preparing for college entrance exams.
WFF’s Family program we will feature the 24th film in Rock Demers’ Tales for All series,"The Outlaw League," about a group of scruffy kids who want to turn the local junkyard into a baseball diamond. The film broke box office records in New Brunswick and will be a Western Canadian premiere.
WFF’s second From the Vault program will feature three newly discovered long-lost shorts "Cold Comfort, Insomnia is Good for You" and "Dearth of a Salesman" -- from comic legend Peter Sellers, which played 1950s UK theater screens as an addition to the main programming.
Other official selections featuring wilderness settings include the Western Canadian premiere of family drama "We Were Wolves" by director Jordan Canning, about two brothers who reconcile at the family cabin following the death of their father, and "Backcountry" directed by Adam MacDonald and starring Rookie Blue actress Missy Peregrym in a true story about two campers who are viciously attacked by a black bear. The bear attack footage was shot in Squamish, BC.
Western Canadian premiere "I Put a Hit on You" stars Aaron Ashmore and Sara Canning as a separated couple who team up to stop the hit man she accidentally hired to kill him and comes to WFF from the 2014 Slamdance Film Festival. The BC Premiere of dark comedy-thriller "Ally Was Screaming" directed by Jeremy Thomas and starring Camille Sullivan follows a couple of buddies who discover a late friend's winning multi-million dollar lottery ticket and how they deal with what stands in the way of their prize. Both will be featured in WFF’s Discoveries strand.
These films are but a few tantalizing offerings that represent what audiences can expect from this year's exciting lineup. WFF is still seeking submissions for its 14th edition. Canadian and International filmmakers are invited to submit films of all lengths and genres by the extended deadline of September 19.
WFF’s Summit will feature three concentrated days of business programs and networking events where industry-goers can delve into cinema’s converging fields of art, technology and commerce. Offering in-depth conversations, lively debates and critical insight into a broad range of issues vital to the international and domestic film communities while addressing crossing borders and platforms in the digital age, Whistler is the place to be, connect and deal.
Project development programs include WFF’s Feature Project Lab, an intense four-day business and marketplace immersion experience for six Canadian producers, which focuses on strengthening dramatic feature projects from script to screen by facilitating feedback, collaboration and investment in film projects that have US and international appeal.
Writer-producer teams are invited to submit their feature film story ideas for this year's third consecutive China Canada Gateway for Film® Script Competition, a dynamic pitching competition designed to stimulate international financing for Canadian creators to participate in a China-Canada co-production. The competition will introduce up to 12 experienced writer/producer teams to Chinese studios with production financing on the table for three selected projects.
New for 2014 , the WFF Praxis Screenwriters Lab is an intense five-day workshop presented by the Whistler Film Festival and Praxis Centre for Screenwriters. Designed to advance Canadian creative talent, the Lab focuses on strengthening feature length scripts by facilitating feedback and mentorship from veteran screenwriters and story editors. Up to eight screenwriters will be invited to participate.
WFF’s Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship , a creative and business immersion experience designed to advance Canadian Aboriginal creative talent, focuses on strengthening short script projects by facilitating feedback from mentors who are successful and well-respected members of the Canadian film community. Up to four Aboriginal filmmakers from British Columbia will be invited to participate in the 2014 Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship with a call for applications opening September 1.
The MPPIA Short Film Award, a partnership initiative of MPPIA, Creative BC, and the Whistler Film Festival for BC filmmakers , returns for its 8th edition as part of WFF’s ShortWork Lab, providing one filmmaker with the opportunity to develop his/her directing career by realizing a unique creative vision in a short film project. Five short-listed candidates will pitch their projects at the 2014 Festival, and the winning film will have its world premiere at WFF 2015.
Application details and information for all WFF industry and project development programs are available at whistlerfilmfestival.com.
The Whistler Film Festival is supported by Telefilm Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Tourism Whistler, and
is sponsored by Variety, ELLE Canada, the Directors Guild of Canada - British Columbia, Creative BC, Sorel, Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb and the Westin
Resort & Spa Whistler.
About the Whistler Film Festival Society
Located in the spectacular Coast Mountains of British Columbia, and just two hours north of Vancouver, Whistler is Canada’s premier, year-round destination. Consistently ranked the number one mountain resort in North America, Whistler features two majestic mountains, epic skiing and snowboarding conditions, four championship golf courses, more than 200 shops, 90 restaurants and bars, accommodations galore, hiking trails, spas and arguably the best mountain bike park in the world. In short, Whistler has everything you will ever need to have the time of your life and so much more. Find out more at whistler.com .