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Whistler Film Festival future to be determined by spring

10th anniversary of festival a success, but theatre needs to be renovated if festival is to carry on



The 10 th anniversary of the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) was a resounding success, with all of their special events sold out, over 60 per cent of feature films at or near capacity, and an overall attendance of more than 8,000 people (see page __ for highlights from this year's festival).

Even though WFF has wrapped for 2010, co-founder and executive director, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, can't rest yet. The success of this year's festival really begs the question: "Where do we go from here?"

Hardy Mishaw envisions WFF eventually becoming one of the top film festivals in the world.

"We hosted the Olympics, we're the number one ski resort in North America, let's be the number one film festival, and stand up next to Toronto, Cannes, Berlin, Sundance.
"We're only 10 (years old); the top film festivals in the world are between 35 and 60 years old," she pointed out.

But in order to achieve that goal, she believes WFF needs a place to call home.

"We can't be overconfident, we have to be extremely realistic, and we know that it's going to be at least a 10-year investment, we can't do this without a proper theatre - there's no way. And if we can't get it, we can't do it. And if we can't get it to that level, do we want to continue doing this?"

So, the Whistler Film Festival Society has set their sights on the Rainbow Theatre, located in the lower level of the Whistler Conference Centre. They plan to transform the space into a state-of-the-art digital theatre that would be used during the annual festival and throughout the year to draw the film industry here and to rent out to community groups.

"This is something that will not only be used for our festival and our programming; it is a community asset, cultural events will thrive as a result, community events, tourism and business would thrive."

The price tag for the project is $2.5 million for the renovation itself and another $2.5 million for international impact, which includes enhanced programming including professional development, staffing and ticketing.

Hardy Mishaw was planning to have a totally revamped Rainbow Theatre up and running for the WFF's 10th anniversary, but the process wasn't as straightforward as she had hoped.

"It was the combination of several factors. I think timing was a huge part: everyone was so consumed by the Olympics that we were on people's radar, but people just didn't have the ability to give us the consideration that we needed. And then of course there has been the economic meltdown."

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