Nov. 30-Dec. 4 | various Whistler locations
Sure, the snow is flying at Whistler — but it’s also worth noting that films will be rolling at the 16th annual Whistler Film Festival starting Nov. 30.
The jam-packed, five-day festival brings 50 feature-length and 36 short films from 18 different countries to the renowned resort. Sixty per cent of those films are Canadian.
From docs to dramas and everything in between, the WFF is growing every year as filmmakers and film lovers discover there are movies in them there hills.
Here are five things that help make WFF such a perfect off-piste event:
1. Uplifting opening night film
You would be hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t agree with the following statement: 2016 has sucked.
With that in mind, WFF is opening with Damien Chazelle’s highly entertaining musical La La Land. A perfect antidote to our bummed-out times, this swooning love letter to classic Hollywood and MGM musicals of the past stars Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling as a pair of dreamers caught up in the ageless allure of Hollywood.
It soars and so will your spirits after two hours in the theatre with this one.
2. Real stories revealed
A great thing about festivals is the collection of documentaries that get to see the light of a big screen.
WFF’s doc list this year is strong and includes a handful of world premieres.
The diversity in this category is wide. You can go from watching Mr. Zaritsky On TV, a film that turns the camera on the Oscar-winning Canadian documentary filmmaker (Just Another Missing Kid, 1982) and truth teller John Zaritsky, to Broken, a film that shows the pressure on elite dancers to hide the truth.
3. Michael Ironside plays a good guy
Yes, you read that right. Ironside (Scanners, Watchers, Total Recall) has a jam-packed, five-decade resume that reads like a history of cinema’s bad, creepy, don’t-mess-with him characters.
But WFF filmgoers will be pleasantly surprised to see the Toronto native show up in the funny, smart, poignant comedy/drama The Space Between. The film by director/writer Amy Jo Johnson sees Ironside play Nick, a sweet, well-meaning father and devoted boyfriend of a woman who decides to take up burlesque in her 60s.
“He’s so great,” said Johnson when asked about Ironside as a good guy. “I think that’s why he wanted to do the role. It was so different for him.”
4. Women filmmakers are rolling
This year’s WFF can boast that more than a third of all the films have been directed by women. That’s a total of 15, up from 11 last year.
While veteran Deepa Mehta is in the house with her new movie Anatomy Of Violence, five female directors are showcasing their first full-length features: Katherine Schlemmer (The Death (And Life) Of Carl Naardlinger), Martine Blue (Hunting Pignut), Kristen Carthew (The Sun At Midnight), Chloe Leriche (Before The Streets) and Amy Jo Johnson (The Space Between). There are also five first time female documentarians: Lynne spencer (Broken), Lindsey Kent (Going Further), Leslie-Ann Coles (Melody Makers, Should’ve Been There, Jennifer Di Cresce (Mr. Zaritsky on Tv) and Katie Bender (The Will to Fly).
“I just went about my business and at the end I counted,” said WFF program director Gratton. “I said ‘we are up to 15, isn’t that cool?’”
It should be noted too that 16 shorts have been directed by women. The festival also hosts female-focused events, awards and talent programs.
5. Top director does some talking
Usually life for British director John Madden is behind the camera, but at this year’s WFF Madden will take to the stage for the Variety Contender Conversation with John Madden event on Dec. 3 an talk about his creative process and his career.
Presenting his new film Miss Sloane here at WFF the director of such titles as Mrs. Brown, Shakespeare In Love and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel has a track record for getting award nominations for his actors and this year is no different: Jessica Chastain has garnered best actress buzz already for her role as a ruthless lobbyist in Miss Sloane.
Madden will also be presented with the 2016 Maverick Award for Directing.