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Film fest business up for 2007

Increased attendance and media coverage puts festival on the international map

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Movie buffs and industry experts came out in droves for this year’s 7 th Whistler Film Festival, making the event the biggest yet.

According to Shauna Hardy Mishaw, co-founder of the festival, overall attendance was up 15 per cent.

Around 7,000 people attended the festival, increasing resort occupancy by four per cent, compared to last year.

Even the popular American show Entertainment Tonight came out to the festival and covered the event.

“This year really was a water shed year for us,” said Hardy Mishaw.

“Millions and millions of Americans now know about the Whistler Film Festival and about Whistler. It is so exciting to have that kind of coverage.”

Entertainment Tonight ’s coverage included a 35-second clip on the Jan. 7 th show with interviews from celebrities including American actress Leelee Sobieski. This is the first time a major broadcaster has covered the event.

Media coverage as a whole was vastly improved this year, with a 27 per cent increase in media attendance. A total of 25 media outlets came out to the event from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2., including Entertainment Tonight and The Hollywood Reporter.

According to Hardy Mishaw, 65 per cent of participants were first time attendees, 33 per cent were repeat attendees, and 14 per cent had already attended the festival at least three times before.

The four-day Whistler Filmmaker Forum, which takes places concurrent to the film festival, also saw higher numbers this year with 684 industry members participating, a 16 per cent increase from last year.

Several industry deals were made during the event as well. The most significant of these was a multi-million dollar deal signed between Beijing talent agency, PKU Starlight, and North American producer, Movie Plus, to co-produce a live action version of the Chinese legend “Mulan”.

The film will be shot this year in China, and all post-production work will happen in British Columbia the next year.

Other film industry deals are pending said Hardy Mishaw.

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