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Whistler Film Fest is back

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Look alive, kids—it's the best week of the year because the Whistler Film Festival is back and screens around town are lighting up.

This is our chance to dip into a serious selection of kick-ass flicks you won't see anywhere else, plus we get the early scoop on some top-notch movies that will make a lot of noise this awards season.

The hot ticket, from where I sit, is the Western Canadian premiere of Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón's

Roma, a simple story about a nanny/housekeeper named Cleo (played by non-professional actress Yalitza Aparicio) working for a well-off family in early 1970s Mexico City.

Reportedly a semi-autobiographical ode to his own upbringing (and nanny), Cuarón crafts an intimate film that mixes drama, comedy and stunning visuals. It's pure cinema and to this end, the Whistler Film Festival is bringing in special projection equipment—Roma will mark the first time in Whistler a film has ever been projected in 4K resolution with Dolby 7.2 sound.

Come see the difference (and yes it's so awesome that this equipment is being used to show a real movie, not a CGI superhero shitshow) at the Rainbow Theatre, Dec. 1 at 8:30 p.m. or Dec. 2 at 3 p.m.

On a more local tip, Whistler-kid/producer Peter Harvey is back home at his local fest for the world premiere of Acquainted, an honest and devastating look at love in an evolving landscape of cultural attitudes towards romance, monogamy, and digital relations. Giacomo Gianniotti (Grey's Anatomy) stars alongside up-and-coming star Laysla De Oliveria (Nikita) and Australian actress Adelaide Kane (The Purge). Kane also executive produced Acquainted with Natty Zavitz (Degrassi) directing. Acquainted shows at 7 p.m. on Dec. 1 at the Maury Young Arts Centre and 6 p.m. at the Village 8 on Dec. 2.

Keeping with things homegrown, longtime Whistler filmmaker Brian Hockenstein also has a flick at WFF this year. Working with activist-legend-in-the-making director Tamo Campos, Hockenstein produced The Radicals, a documentary that follows a squad of snowboarders and surfers around British Columbia to spend time with First Nations battling to protect their home lands and resources from industrialization.

"Whistler is where I discovered my passion for storytelling," says Hockenstein, no stranger to local fests like Heavy Hitting HorrorFest or the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown. "So to show this film here as part of the Whistler Film Festival means the world to me. There is a deep connection here to the natural environment that we all play in, so it's going to be magical to share the film with our fellow lovers of the outdoors."

The Radicals screens at the Maury Young Arts Centre at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday Nov. 29, and at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2.

Another big score for WFF is the Western Canadian premiere of If Beale Street Could Talk, the next film from Best Picture Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (Moonlight). Set in Harlem in the '70s, this one is a love story that encompasses themes of injustice, adversity and race. There's a lot of awards hype around this one and here's a chance to see it before anyone else. Beale Street screens at the Rainbow Theatre tonight (Thursday, Nov. 29) at 6 p.m. and Friday, Nov. 30 at 2:30 p.m.

Not everyone is into awards-bait though, and WFF has plenty of gritty independent flicks to suit the lowbrow audiences too. Check out F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story, a doc about the Vancouver filmmaker many consider to be the worst of all time, or Anna and the Apocalypse, a really solid zombie apocalypse Christmas musical. Be warned though, it is a musical.) Check out whistlerfilmfestival.com and pick your poison.

And if you just can't make it out to the cinema (or the parties, or the special events), the Download of the Week is a throwback to Alfonso Cuarón's epic career. Children of Men is a dystopian masterpiece set in a near future world of geopolitical chaos, mass refugee movements, and the looming end of humanity—women are unable to have babies. Featuring some incredible one-shot cinematography sequences from legendary director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant, Birdman) Children of Men is one of the most underrated flicks of the 2000s.

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