Last Friday and Monday at Film Nights 2006 Showdown at the Garibaldi Lift Company, I sat back with more than 100 others to catch the screening of more than 45 films that didn't make the Filmmaker Showdown's top-eight. Everyone had an opinion.
Some people loved the horror-movie spoof about drivers who don't know stop-sign-right-of-way rules. I thought it was predictable.
I gushed praise to a friend over the film about a guy who composes a song from the different sounds he encounters over a day in Whistler. Someone next to me leaned over and said, "That's been done before."
We all have our opinions about the kind of films we enjoy and whether a film has merit or not, but when an entire room bursts into applause with shouts and whistles, you know a film is worth watching.
So why wasn't Robyn Taylor's The Role of the Waffle Iron a finalist in this year's showdown?
The question was fired around the room after the Film Night screening with the gossip ring producing a few yarns.
It needed a story line, one person quipped.
Fair enough: a young man who explains to a friend the run-about-tale of why he has a candle for a hand may not challenge James Joyce's literature. But a film about the vanquishing of a triangle shooting fire beams from its eyes on Whistler is a finalist?
The insanity and refreshing oddities of both films, Taylor's and Jamey Kramer's triangle war, were what made the films so memorable - not to mention laughable. Taylor's consistent characters, colourfully directed script, innovative camera work and off-the-wall humour kept people talking about the film both Friday and Monday nights.
So what went wrong?
I couldnt find an answer when analyzing the technical, creative and audience response of the film. Could a film name which seemingly made no reference to plot be reasonable grounds for finalist dismissal?
Most likely the fault was with the filmmaker - he just had to go and win the showdown the previous year.
Over the past three festivals I've attended, the Filmmaker Showdown just gets better and better. This year's event was extremely memorable, but it would have been even more so if Taylor's film had been shown. Mind you it was. Not to a 1,200-plus room, but Taylor couldnt have asked for a better audience than the supportive 100-plus crowd at Film Nights. Standing ovations to the hard work of Whistler Cable 6 crew and the foresight of Film Nights to create a venue to showcase all of the showdown filmmakers' works.
The calibre of talent rolling out of the showdown raises the bar each year. Maybe it is time to up the ante in the judging process as well as bring in a screening team that doesn't know most of the filmmakers in one way or another. I am not knocking the judges, nor the amount of time they volunteered to see all of these films. But to ensure an unbiased screening panel, looking at judges from outside of the bubble might even the playing ground for Whistler's biggest and most celebrated filmmaking competition.