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WFF most successful to date

11th annual festival ends on a high note

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So, the Whistler Film Festival came and went. People met, discussions were had. Films were shown, people were entertained and enlightened. And, best of all, some celebrities were in town.

But now it's gone, gone, gone with only our memories to carry us forward — and, of course, the plethora of photographs and videos circulating the Internet. And the news from a variety of organizations (including Variety!) that the 11th annual festival was a huge success.

But why was it a huge success? Well:

WFF attracted bigwigs

It was not the most well attended WFF on record but it was certainly close.

But as executive director Shauna Hardy Mishaw says, "It's not about quantity, it's about the quality of people who came."

And, indeed, it was certainly the best attended so far, when you consider the array of studio bigwigs, actors, and filmmakers, both established and up-and-coming. Attendees are saying the festival line-up was the strongest ever. The partnership with Variety magazine and the announcement of the China Canada Script Competition helped raise the festival's international profile.

"It secures us an international reputation as an emerging force in the festival circuit," Hardy Mishaw says.

Attendee numbers were up five per cent from 2010, with a notable increase in unscheduled meetings taking place during the festival.

"What was really exciting to me too, actually was a lot of deals were done, so it's much as this was an audience festival, this is really a festival for the industry to meet and do business," she says.

And how is that facilitated? The layout and vibe of the village certainly helps, but above all the attendees seemed to be genuinely having fun.

"Ah! They were having the time of their lives, are you kidding? They went skiing, they went to the spa, they went to the village, they dined, they went to movies, they went to parties," Hardy Mishaw says. "They just loved it and again, the weather cooperated, which was super cool."

WFF cozied up to China

Do you know who else cooperated? China!

The Canadian film industry made enormous strides in securing a spot in China's celluloid landscape on Sunday with the announcement of the China Canada Script Competition.

The joint program — between the Whistler Film Festival Society, Telefilm Canada and the China Film Group — will see three co-productions over three years offering unprecedented access to the Chinese market, which has been notoriously difficult for international films to achieve distribution in.

"You can tone down my hyperbole if you wish," laughs Jane Milner, the WFF's director of development, "but China is one of the few places in the world that has lots of production to spend.

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