A&E » Arts

Film festival for filmmakers

WFF Industry Summit does more to move movies from script to screen



This year the industry side of the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) is reaping the rewards of past investment in Canadian filmmaking, says Angie Nolan, the WFF's industry programming coordinator.

"I'm starting to realize through some of our project development programs and partnerships... (that) film projects that have gone through those programs are coming back to us this year on screen," says Nolan.

These partnerships include the WFF-Praxis Centre for Screenwriting screenwriter lab, a 32-year-old program now exclusively attached to the Whistler Film Festival, and the feature film project lab for producers.

One such film is Numb, the festival's closing gala, which went through the Praxis program just last year.

"It's amazing," Nolan says."There's another film by Mary Anne Waterhouse called The Steps that went through our feature project lab a few years ago — it was then the Go West Project Lab with the Canadian Film Centre.

"For me, this is the exciting thing that is starting to happen. These mentorship programs are important to me and close to my heart. I know we are encouraging the next generation of really great Canadian filmmakers. Stuff is actually happening."

Nolan says she is excited by industry programming at WFF this year — In Conversation the View From the Top on Friday, Dec. 4 and Power Pitch and Boot Camp from Dec. 1 to 4.

"The Stream Big session on Saturday brings filmmakers and content creators from Vancouver who work both in the Vimeo and Vine world," she says, adding that both are moving into original content creation — Vimeo with feature films on demand and Vine with (very) short animation.

Paul Gratton, the festival's director of programming, says the festival's industry offerings is one of its strongest suits.

"We try to coordinate as much as possible between the film programming and the industry events," Gratton says.

"We have a predominance of Canadian films and a real predisposition towards local filmmakers. A lot of people do the festival circuit and then their films never go anywhere.

"We pride ourselves on not only presenting these films, but also hoping they pick up wider distribution and end up being widely distributed across Canada because connections are being made."

The timing of the festival also makes it easier for Canadian distributors to attend.

"One of the greatest sources of satisfaction for us is to see one of our Canadian movies land Canadian distribution and be shown across Canada. Sometimes it doesn't happen for a year after the festival, but the initial contact was made here."