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What’s in store for Whistler Film Fest?

Donald Sutherland leads judging panel for prestigious Borsos Prize, organizers announce full film line-up

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This week may be Whistler’s celebration of food and wine, but film buffs can start getting excited for the next big event around the corner – the Whistler Film Festival (WFF).  

Festival organizers just released their full line-up of all 92 films – short, mid and full-length – that will be shown at this year’s festival on Tuesday morning, and the assortment is impressive.

Bill Evans, director of programming for the WFF, explained that the film selection process actually began back in the summer, with the short film submission deadline in July, and the feature-length film deadline in August. In addition to submitted films, programmers also solicited a number of distributors at other festivals, seeking out specific films to screen at this year’s WFF.

“So there’s two things happening simultaneously – filmmakers from around the world are submitting their films to us, and we’re also actively seeking out films that we’re reading about at other festivals,” Evans explained.

The subject matter of the films also runs the gambit from the Borsos Competition films, World Cinema, Documentary and Mountain Culture to the Late Nite Series, Shortfest and Kidz Fest.

“I think we’ll have something for everybody,” he said. “We just look for films that are compelling, I guess, that are telling an interesting story in an interesting way, with an understanding that some films are not going to be appreciated by everybody.”

Some of the highlights of the festival include a number of Canadian premieres, and even a few world premieres.

“Last Chance Harvey,” a major studio film that starts Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, will be screened, and the director Joel Hopkins will also be in attendance.

Evans is also excited to announce that the film, “Yonkers Joe,” another Canadian premiere which screened at the Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year, is also going to be shown during the five-day festival.

“It was very well received, and its from an American independent film from a company called Magnolia Pictures,” Evans added, pointing out that organizers have taken a bit of a new approach when seeking out films to premiere, reaching beyond Canadian filmmakers and studios and going after American production companies and distributors as well.

“It was just a decision we made to kind of widen the scope,” he explained, “We weren’t really content to just choose a bunch of films that had already played, say, at the Vancouver Film Festival. We wanted to do something a little bit different.”

The organizers’ new, wider reach has also enabled them to bring in films like, “Black Balloon,” an Australian film which will make its Canadian premiere at the Whistler Film Festival.

This year there are the same number of films being shown with only one overall addition to the documentary category, though documentaries are still an important part of the festival.

“R.I.P.: A Remix Manifesto,” is a new, cutting-edge film project by producer Daniel Cross, who also produced the Genie Award-winning film, “Up The Yangtze.” It uses open-source cinema to explore the concepts of copyright infringement.

“So it’s going from Montreal’s New Media Festival, which happened last month…to the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam, then it’s coming to us, and then it’s going off to South By South West in Austin, Texas, and in between all of those festivals, it’s going to be remixed by users online,” he explained, “So that’s a really innovative and interesting project, and we’re very excited to be part of that.”

Organizers also announced that six Canadian films have been selected to compete in the Borsos Award for Best New Canadian Feature Film: “3 Seasons,” “Before Tomorrow,” “The Baby Formula,” “Girlfriend Experience,” “Nurse.Fighter.Boy,” and “ Who is KK Downey?” The award, which was started at the festival five years ago, is intended to recognize new Canadian filmmaking talent, and the honour carries with it a cash prize of $15,000 — the largest cash prize in Western Canada for Canadian film.

And this year, the WFF has another heavy-hitting name to add to their roster of attendees and participants: the winner will be selected by a Canadian industry jury, comprised of legendary Golden Globe and Emmy-winning actor Donald Sutherland, Oscar-nominated and Genie Award-winning director Sturla Gunnarsson, and Emmy winning director/writer Patricia Rozema.

Sutherland will receive a special tribute at the Festival, on Saturday, Dec. 6.

Individuals tickets and packages to film screenings are now available online at www.whistlerfilmfestival.com.

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