The International Freeski Film Festival has been getting skiers stoked for the winter in Montreal and further abroad for the last six years.
But for the first time the film fest will bring some of its top selections to Whistler from Oct. 11–12 at Millennium Place. "We're coming at this with a small start to build from there as opposed to shooting for the stars right off the bat," says Jeff Schmuck, the Vancouver-based organizer. "We don't want to stomp into town and do some grandiose thing. This is a way for people to check out the new movies and get stoked about the upcoming winter, which is what ski movies are all about."
The festival handed out its awards in Montreal — including Film of the Year and Best Editing awards to Whistler-based Sherpas Cinemas for Into the Mind — in September, just before premiere season. The roving festival has also screened films in Annecy, France and Innsbruck, Austria.
"It's going to be super fun and everyone seems pretty jazzed about it," Schmuck says. "The timing is pretty good because there may one or two of the movies other people might have had the chance to see already, but, for the most part, it will be the first time the majority of these films are available to be seen in Whistler."
The weekend of parties and movies will kick off on Oct. 11 with a screening of Into the Mind, which premiered to a very sold out crowd at the Whistler Conference Centre on Sept. 28.
The iF3 team worked with Sherpas to add the screening after it sold out the debut in just two weeks. "It's an absolutely stunning visual masterpiece," Schmuck says. "It's very much a film as opposed to, say, your standard run-of-the-mill ski movie. We haven't seen anything like it in ski film history."
Saturday, meanwhile, is jam packed with screenings, which are broken down into "presentations" and group webisodes with a diverse range of films. From 2:30 p.m. until 5 p.m., presentation two will include Let's Go Get Small by Norseman Productions, Valhalla by Sweetgrass Productions and Mutiny from Stept Productions, along with 4 Minutes at Momentum by Moment Productions.
Presentation three runs from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. with Switchback Entertainment's The Burn, The Lost by Legs of Steel and Tracing Skylines from Poor Boyz Productions.
The final installation runs from 8 p.m. until 10 p.m. with Ski Opera from Bon Appetit Freeski Blog, Field Productions' Supervention and Partly Cloudy by Level 1 Productions.
Each presentation is $17 in advance or $19 at the door.
"It's always a good time and everyone in Vancouver who has been to any of the iF3s is really excited about it coming to Whistler and for very good reason," Schmuck says.
Also on agenda is a pair of parties. On Friday night, catch the Retro Ski Party at the Longhorn. Saturday evening will bring the Red Bull/K2 Sean Pettit Rocker Party to Garfinkel's.
"If all the other iF3s are any indication, it's going to be a weekend to remember — or depending how wild you get at the parties on the weekend, a weekend to forget," Schmuck says with a laugh.
While the original iF3 in Montreal — where the festival's founders are based — has grown into a highly anticipated event over the years, Schmuck says the Whistler fest will be more akin to Calgary's Freshtival ski film fest to start. "We're looking to the vibe of Freshtival where it's about the movies, getting the ski community together to watch these films and get excited about the winter and absolutely come party for both nights," he says.
Although the festival falls during a traditionally slow time in the resort, organizers are hoping that holding it on the same weekend as the annual Turkey Sale will attract more fans. If there's enough interest, they want to make Whistler a regular stop. "We've been talking about this for a few years, but it can be challenging to put on a ski film festival because a lot of the film companies in a ski epicenter want to host their own premieres," Schmuck says.
Still, support has been mostly strong, Whistler Blackcomb came on this year as the title sponsor to seal the deal. "We want to do this for years and years to come in Whistler," he adds. "The more support we receive, the more likely that is to happen."
Tickets, along with an all access pass, are available at whistler.if3.ca.