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Kidz Fest joins the Whistler Film Festival for family films

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What: Kidz Fest

When: Sunday, Dec. 2

Where: Village 8 Cinemas and Skier’s Plaza

Admission: $12/$6/Free

There is an old adage in filmmaking: never make a film on the water with animals and children.

Producer Trish Dolman decided to embrace all three in the filming of Luna: Spirit of the Whale, which screens as part of the Whistler Film Festival’s new Kidz Fest Sunday, Dec. 2 at Village 8 Cinemas and Skier’s Plaza.

“There is a reason people don’t do that,” Dolman says of the terrible three. “It was a large scale production with two different animatronics, which rarely do what you think they’ll do. It was very complex filming on the water. We didn’t have the budget of Free Willy. It was one of the hardest films I’ve ever done.”

And also the most rewarding.

The film is inspired by the true story of Luna, a stray killer whale which received international attention when discovered in Nootka Sound in 2001. Luna: Spirit of the Whale is a dramatization of the event following how the orca transforms the lives of Chief Mike Maquinna (Adam Beach) and an aboriginal boy struggling with his identity (Aaron Miko) as well as how a government official (Jason Priestly) steps into the spiritual and political controversy to transport Luna over land to reunite him with his pod.

“Children really respond strongly to the whales and the story of the whale,” Dolman said of the film that won the Audience Award for Best Children’s Film at the Mill Valley Film Festival. “When we screened it at the Mill Valley festival, one little girl said she liked it when Luna got to decide what he wanted to do. That summed it up for me. Children have a wonderful way of doing that.”

Sunday is all about children with the Kidz Fest featuring a series of seven short films, followed by the Luna screening at Village 8 Cinemas. Film enthusiasts then head outdoors for free outdoor screenings in Skier’s Plaza.

Kidz Shorts begin at 2 p.m. with kid friendly films, including John Mavety’s The Von, which revisits that all too familiar nightmare of showing up at school naked; Tricia Lee’s Paper Tulips, the story of a mean joke classmates play on a love-struck girl; and Danielle Shamash’s The Sunday Man, following the misadventures of a remarkably peculiar man, among others.

The Luna screening will follow along with a showing of the locally-produced short film, Snowing, Going Gone!, which was created as part of the festival’s Get Reel Youth Program to look at the topic of saving our snow on the Blackcomb glacier.

Everyone will move outside of Village 8 Cinemas at 5 p.m. to warm up with hot chocolate in Skier’s Plaza for a repeat screening of Snowing, Going Gone! as well as four of the 2007 Whistler Stories short films and additional family-oriented short films such as Domnique Keller’s Aboriginality, an animated dance piece about adaptation.

Tickets for Kidz Shorts and Luna are each $6 for kids and $12 for adults. The outdoor screening is free. Remember to dress warm.

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