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Feature - Untouchable

From humble beginnings the World Ski and Snowboard Festival has become the ultimate celebration of snow sports

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Subsequent years, the Showdown has expanded. More photographers, more images, wildcard entries featuring gifted amateurs slugging it out with the pros. A quick look through Transworld Anything would have foretold the success of the idea to the mountain sport set – all pictures, all the time – and if imitation is truly the sincerest form of flattery, the Showdown should be blushing. You can’t attend a mountain festival these days without stumbling over a photo show. Nice touch.

But what have you done for me lately?

Well, that was then, this is now. How do you keep the party fresh?

"It would be the kiss of death if people came back and it was the same old thing," Doug mused. "That’s why rigid events of years past have gone through their cycle of being well-attended and then forgotten about. Anything with a little bit of dust on it is gone. We have to make this festival the showcase of everything innovative. The key is to make sure events are designed largely by the athletes and artists."

Burning brightly on this year’s horizon is the Filmmaker’s Showdown, an event that wouldn’t even have been technically possible just a few years ago. The concept is stunningly simple and the "Wow" potential almost unlimited.

"We’re inviting everyone and anyone, amateur, professional or teams, to shoot and produce an original film in 72 hours." What could be simpler?

Jim Budge, Whistler’s original video guy, and one of the people who helped flesh out the idea, explained. "Technology’s changed everything. With an iMac and a digital video camera, anyone can make films that would have taken a huge editing suite just a few years ago. After a couple of hours instruction, my three year old daughter was mixing images with sound. Unknowns, kids with a great idea and a great eye will have a chance at winning this contest."

What they’ll have to do to win is produce a finished, scored, four-and-a-half minute film shot in and around Whistler. Imagination is the key element in this contest. A review committee, headed by Peter Rowe, head of Canada’s Directors’ Guild, will sift through the entries and choose the best six. They’ll be screened before a go-wild crowd who will, no doubt, influence a panel of judges charged with choosing the ultimate winner. With the techy-toys available on any worthwhile computer these days, you might find a compilation of the Best of Whistler films on a CD in your stocking this Christmas.

For those whose tastes run to films that take longer than 72 hours to make, Mike Todd is bringing a selection of films from last fall’s Sawtooth Film Festival. All of them sound great but two of them scream "Don’t miss this."