The Whistler Film Festival has announced that it will be screening 90 films at forty-one film screenings during the fifth annual festival December 1 to 4. The line-up includes 36 feature and mid-length films and 54 shorts; three world premieres, seven Canadian premieres, and sixteen B.C. premieres. Special screening events this year include a Tribute to Robert Lantos; and the opening gala screening of Whistler Stories, the WFF legacy program for short film commission competitors. Whistler Stories short films will precede the opening gala screening of C.R.A.Z.Y., Canada’s official entry for the Academy Awards.

“I am extremely proud of our line-up this year,” says Bill Evans, Festival Director of Programming. “We have six strong contenders for the Borsos Award, which shines a light on Canadian films working outside the mainstream, and we also have a strong selection of the best of this year’s festival hits. We have also included more documentaries this year, and we are screening some great independent films coming out of the USA. Also, as usual we have a strong line-up of shorts.”

WFF is a competitive festival with five distinct awards: the $10,000 Borsos Award for Best New Canadian Feature, the American Express People’s Choice Best Feature, the $5,000 CBC Newsworld Award presented for Best Documentary, the $500 Best Short Film, and new this year is the Best Mountain Culture Film Award, which recognizes a film that celebrates mountain experiences, places and people.

The six films in competition for the $10,000 Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature are Anita Doron’s THE END OF SILENCE (ON; world premiere); Ilan Saragosti’s EXILES IN LOTUS LAND (QC; B.C. premiere); David Ray’s FETCHING CODY (BC; B.C. premiere); Johnny Kalangis’s LOVE IS WORK (ON; world premiere); David Christensen’s SIX FIGURES (AB; B.C. premiere); Raphael Assaf’s THE ZERO SUM (BC; world premiere).

The other B.C. premieres are documentaries from directors Jeremy McCormack – BORRADAILE’S CENTURY, Joel Sector – BEST OF SECTER & THE REST OF SECTOR, Albert Nerenberg – ESCAPE TO CANADA, Brent Kawchuck – GOD ONLY KNOWS: SAME SEX MARRIAGE, Cynthia Roberts – UFO DOGGIES; Jason Berry – OFF ROAD TO ATHENS (USA); and fictional features from Neil Jordan – BREAKFAST ON PLUTO (IRELAND/UK), David Burke – EDISON (USA), Michael Winterbottom – TRISTRAM SHANDY: A C**K AND BULL STORY (UK), Kathy Cacicedo – VAN VORST PARK (USA), Takashi Miike – THE GREAT YOKAI WAR (JAPAN), Carl Bessai – SEVERED, Steven Frears – MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS (UK). Films are Canadian unless otherwise noted.

Canadian premieres are Jed Riffe’s documentary WAITING TO INHALE (USA), which explores the battle between patients, doctors, activists and the US government over the legalization of medical marijuana; Chris Kitchen and Sam Pope’s documentary SANCTIFIED (USA), which celebrates the beauty of mountains and the experience of skiing them while highlighting environmental issues that directly affect the back country; Tony Papa’s mid-length documentary IT’S NOT JUST EMPTY SPACE (BC) with Dr. David Suzuki speaking about the human animal and our place in the universe, Ben Wagner’s feature SOUTHBOUNDERS (USA), a moving film about hikers on the Appalachain Trial, U.Wolfgang Wagenknecht’s feature WHITE AIR (USA) which is set in the X-treme snowboarding world; Christopher Jaymes IN MEMORY OF MY FATHER (USA), a day-in-the-death of three brothers’ father, loosely based on legendary film producer Robert Evans; and Stephan Marshall’s THIS REVOLUTION (USA), a 2005 Sundance Film Festival audience favourite, a fictional film in the cinema verité style, about a network war shooter who questions his worldview after discovering his network has given his footage to Homeland Security.

Other World Cinema entries include Matt Mochary’s FAVELA RISING (USA); Michael Haneke’s HIDDEN (France/Austria/Germany/Italy); and Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne’s L’ENFANT (Belgium/France), winner of the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Additional Canadian program highlights include Dylan Akio Smith’s THE CABIN MOVIE (BC); Sebastian Rose’s LA VIE AVEC MON PÈRE (QC); Larry Kent’s THE HAMSTER CAGE (BC); Ann Marie Fleming’s THE FRENCH GUY (BC); Julia Kwan’s EVE AND THE FIREHORSE (BC); and Thom Fitzgerald’s 3 NEEDLES (NS).

The festival opens on December 1 with a gala screening of Jean-Marc Vallée’s C.R.A.Z.Y., the wildly entertaining award-winning film and box-office phenomenon about growing up in Quebec in the 1970s. The film will be preceded by the world premiere of Whistler Stories, three short films created by B.C. filmmakers through the Whistler Film Festival legacy program and commission competition. Slated to run annually until 2010, a WFF jury will select four projects per year to receive a commission of $5,000 to create a short film (approximately five minutes in length) which must be based on stories from Whistler and surrounding areas, including the Sea-to-Sky Corridor.

For more info, visit the Whistler Film Festival website.

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