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Telling Whistler's tales to the world

Fifth and final installment of Whistler Stories delivers tale of the merging of two mountains



Few people know that the merging of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains was set into motion at a dinner party, but that's actually where Hugh Smythe and Joe Houssian first crossed paths. They went on to join forces and eventually united both mountains into one enterprise, transforming Whistler into a world-class destination.

Now, the history behind the creation of Whistler Blackcomb is being told in a five-minute film, When Hugh Met Joe , created by writer Cindy Filipenko and filmmaker Jim Budge. They've created the short film as part of the fifth and final installment of the Whistler Film Festival's Whistler Stories program, modeling it loosely on the classic romantic comedy, When Harry Met Sally .

The Whistler Stories program was launched in 2005 as a way to ensure the community's stories were told to the world in the lead-up to the Olympics.

"It's like a legacy program basically in advance of the 2010 Games and the idea really was each year we would commission up to four films that were based on stories from Whistler and the area, and they had to... thematically portray one of the Olympic pillars," Shauna Hardy Mishaw, executive director of WFF, explained.

Each film is just five minutes long and tells a very different story. To date, 23 films have been created through the program, each telling a different personal local tale, whether it is a character exploration of Guitar Doug and Grateful Greg of the Hairfarmers or a history of the Whistler Cup.

"It's those stories that we felt were these little treasured time capsules that we wanted to keep," Hardy Mishaw explained.

They also coordinate the Whistler Stories youth program, engaging and educating kids between the ages of 14 and 19 in the filmmaking process. This year, the youth project produced four three-minute short films that are included in the Whistler Stories program.

Organizers were inspired to create the program after a visit to the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, where they had an opportunity to meet with Raymond Grant, the former Executive Director of the Sundance Institute and Director of the Cultural Olympiad for the Salt Lake Olympic Games.

"He said, 'whatever you do, tell your own stories, because the media is going to come in there and butcher them...' so essentially if you don't find a way to take your stories and encapsulate them then they'll get lost or they won't be shared."

WFF organizers wanted to ensure that these important stories were made available to the public and media that will soon be flooding the town.

"What's really unique about Whistler is that it was built on an Olympic dream, it was built on this dream and five successive bids later, we achieved it, and during that time this town had phenomenal growth and incredible people," Hardy Mishaw said.