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Film fest favourites announced

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They came, they saw, they asked questions, they took notes and some even got turned away when seats were full. These were the audiences who attended the Whistler Film Festival and their picks for the best of the best are now in.

A total of 37 films and a stack of photos were seen and discussed during the four-day film event. Submissions came from Canada, U.S.A., Israel, Germany and Australia. So who walked away with top honours? Three Canadian films, one American filmmaker and a Whistler photographer.

The People’s Choice Award for the Best Feature Film of the festival went to B.C.’s own Flower and Garnet. Director and screenwriter Keith Behrman’s feature debut was a thought provoking film exploring the painful cycles of life through the eyes of an eight-year old raised by his sister. Runners-up were U.S. director Michael Moore’s, Bowling for Columbine and Inuit director Zacharius Kunuk’s Atarnajuat — the Fast Runner.

The Festival’s Best Documentary Award went to Fix: Story of an Addicted City by Nettie Wild. A controversial yet highly praised film about drugs, laws and deaths in Vancouver.

The People’s Choice Award for Best Mountain Culture Photograph was selected from entries on show during the Tribute to the Mountains gala event. Whistler photographer, Bonny Makarewicz won this prize, for "All Alone," an inspiring image of a single skier cutting a line down a mountain of powder. It was a shot taken during 1996’s Eco Challenge.

"I spent a whole day sitting up there waiting for that shot," said Makarewicz. "The teams were very slow getting through the glacier and I had just about given up capturing anything decent. Then there they were. The texture of the snow was perfect and with a very long lens I was able to capture the moment."

Makarewicz is well known for her news photography but this is her first artistic merit.

In the Shortfest category, 12 of the 60 submissions made it to the screen. The Festival’s Panel of Programmers judged the ShortFest Best Award with top honours going to Death’s Dream, directed, produced and written by David Massar of Vancouver. This film explored the ultimate fantasy of unconditional love through a state of unconsciousness and wrapped with a surprise ending.

Runners-up included Canada’s Collin Niemi’s Farewell Letters; and Jet, which received honourable mention for young Colin Minihan’s directorial debut.

The Whistler Film Festival returns Dec. 4 to 7, 2003.

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