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Oscar-winning director leads honourees and guests at WFF 2016

First attendees to Whistler Film Festival named



Director John Madden, whose work includes Best Picture Oscar winner Shakespeare in Love, is a guest of honour at this year's Whistler Film Festival (WFF).

Madden will receive the WFF's Maverick Award for Directing. His other films include The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Proof.

He is coming to Whistler to support his latest film Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain, which has its Canadian premiere at WFF.

"We are thrilled to have master director John Madden join us for the Canadian premiere of Miss Sloane and as a guest of honour for the Variety Contender Conversation," said Paul Gratton, WFF's director of programming, in a release.

Other festival attendees include actor Alan Thicke, whose film It's Not My Fault, and I Don't Care Anyway is being shown; Parks and Recreation actor Jim O'Heir with his latest film Middle Man; Quebec actor Lucille Fluet with her film The Cyclotron; and Gabrielle Rose with Grand Unified Theory.

Retired NHL star Theo Fleury is also coming to WFF. Fleury brought to light the sexual abuse in youth hockey and was open about the abuse he suffered at the hands of his coach. He is coming to Whistler with the documentary Victor Walk, which tells his story.

The festival also named its four 2016 Stars to Watch finalists:

Agam Darshi, a Leo Award-winning actor, writer and producer who is attending WFF with her film Chokeslam; Vancouver actor Charlie Kerr, who is at WFF with two films, An American Dream: The Education of William Bowman and Lost Solace; TV and screen actor Michael Ecklund, also in Chokeslam; and Deadpool actor Taylor Hickson, who is appearing at WFF in Hunting Pignut.

"Our Stars to Watch program is part of our ongoing commitment to promoting Canadian cinema and talent, each representing a diverse group of actors, each carving his or her own path in the industry," Gratton said.

Also announced were 75 Canadian artists taking part in the film festival's 12 talent programs.