Whistler Film Festival co-founders and directors Shauna Hardy and Kasi Lubin have announced the award winners for the third annual festival, which concluded its four-day, 47-film run on Sunday night.
Nathaniel Geary’s feature drama “On the Corner” has won the juried award for Best Canadian Film. The graphic depiction of a young brother and sister struggling to survive the harsh reality of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside stars Alex Rice, Simon Baker, Katherine Isabelle, JR Bourne and Gordon Tootoosis.
The People’s Choice Award for the Best Film of the Festival, as determined by audience vote, went to Ivan Hughes’s “In the Shadow of the Chief,” a documentary about the 1961 inaugural climb to the top of the “unclimbable” Stawamus Chief in Squamish, BC by Jim Baldwin of Prince Rupert, BC and Ed Cooper of Seattle. The film had two sold out screenings at the festival. This award is sponsored by Rivers, Oceans & Mountains.
The Best Documentary Award went to “Baghdad or Bust,” a first feature directed by Matt Frame of Yellowknife, NWT. The jury chose the alternately hilarious and heartbreaking first feature for its quality and originality. The movie follows the filmmakers from the Canadian Arctic to Turkey, Israel, West Bank, Jordan, Kurdistan and, finally, Washington, capturing the reactions of “regular” people to the invasion of Iraq. The film had many in the audience laughing and crying in equal measure.
Kevin Shortt’s clever satire “The Watchers” has won the ZeD People’s Choice Shorts Award. The award is sponsored by CBC Television’s ZeD. Shortt wins $500 and his film will be broadcast on ZeD. The runner-up was Jacqueline Samuda’s 50 Questions. Both filmmakers are from British Columbia.
The Best Adventure/Action-Sport Film Award went to USA director Dana Brown’s “Step Into Liquid,” a documentary that follows a community of extreme surfers to the world’s hottest surfing spots. Brown wrote, edited and directed the film. Brown receives a week-long white water rafting trip in British Columbia from sponsor Rivers, Oceans & Mountains.
The Butch Freedhoff Human Spirit Award, which is sponsored by Segal Communications, went to “Farther Than the Eye Can See,” a documentary directed by Michael Brown of the USA. The film provides an intimate look inside one of the most successful Everest expeditions ever. Chosen by the festival’s board of directors, the award is dedicated in memory of Harry “Butch” Freedhoff, a man who inspired many to embrace their dreams and live life to the fullest. The award was granted to the filmmaker that best described a moving life story or adventure. The award was judged on quality, originality and inspirational and compelling story content.

For more post festival info, visit the Whistler Film Festival website.

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