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Seniors first

Museum’s Community Now film premieres part one at MY Place



What: Community Now: The People of Whistler (Part One)

Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Festival

Where: MY Millennium Place

When: Friday, Feb.25, 7 p.m.

Admission: Free

"I think of Whistler being two different places: what it was like in the early days and what it's like now because it's changed so much."

— John Livingston

"We've come a long way."

— Florence Petersen

Community Now: The People of Whistler (Part One)

If there’s one subject in Whistler that’s guaranteed to incite heated and passionate discussion it’s the concept of localism and community ownership.

Curators at the Whistler Museum and Archives experienced the phenomenon first hand with the ongoing Picturing Whistler exhibit, which debuted last September. The project involved giving disposable cameras to a dozen community members with the instructions to capture their perception of what it is to be a "Whistler local."

While there is a found-object artistic quality to the images, the exhibit’s draw is its revealing and candid look at how Whistler as a community sees itself. Enthusiastic response prompted curators Kerry Clark and Jimi Galvao to put their heads together and find a way to further explore the ideas and issues of community identity inspired by Picturing Whistler.

The result is an ambitious documentary film project titled Community Now: The People of Whistler, which is being produced in five stages corresponding with the five years leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

"We found that anything directly tied to community identity in Whistler really generated a lot of feedback and people really wanted to contribute, so we thought we would just channel that into this project," Galvao said.

Each year, between 2005 and 2008 the museum is producing and screening a short documentary featuring a different age demographic in the Whistler community: senior members, younger adults, teens and kids. The 2009 offering will include all demographics and in 2010 the five films will be edited into one full-length feature documentary and premiered at a gala reception.

Seniors focus of documentary debut

Community Now’s debut film, which premieres on Friday evening at MY Millennium Place, focuses on senior members of the Whistler community.

Galvao said 25 people agreed to be interviewed on camera, responding to a set of standard questions. Participants were asked to identify themselves and explain why they came to Whistler, what they contribute to the community and what they thought about Whistler hosting the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. With the formalities out of the way, the floor was opened up to favourite Whistler anecdotes, and specific to the senior group, interviewees were asked to compare the Whistler of the past to the Whistler of today.

"The results were very diverse," Galvao said. "Definitely, there was a range of opinion. Definitely we had some people who were super enthusiastic about Whistler and they loved it. Other people had reservations about the Olympics, but they said that this is what the community has decided to do as a whole and they’re going to be behind it 100 per cent."

While Galvao and Clark served as creative directors the production side was contracted to Whistler filmmaker Brian Hockenstein. The film will run approximately 30 minutes.

Galvao reported the budget for the first Community Now film to be $3,000, including production, screening and premiere reception. Funding was acquired from a Whistler Arts Council grant, from funding that organization received last summer from the RMOW for events related to the Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Festival – an annual month-long arts showcase occurring each February leading up to the 2010 Games.

The foray into film is new ground for the Whistler Museum, Galvao noted, though he said multi-media, community-generated projects are common at museums in larger, metropolitan centres such as Toronto and New York.

"Museums do play more of a role as a forum for public dialogue," Galvao added. "So we’re trying to emulate that.

"We’re not trying to put a spin on things. We captured people’s opinions – good or bad – and are presenting them to the community."

Community Now part one screens at MY Millennium Place on Friday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. The screening is free to the public, but seating is limited. A catered reception will follow with laid-back live acoustic tunes by Kostas Lymbertos — a.k.a. "Kostaman."

For more information on the project call the Whistler Museum at 604-932-2019. For more information on the Celebration 2010 Whistler Arts Festival go to www.whistlerartscouncil.com.