It’s only a week away – On December 2 through 5, the Whistler Film Festival will screen 93 films, including 33 feature- and mid-length films and 60 shorts. The festival has nine world premieres, two North American premieres and four British Columbia premieres. Six of the world premieres are Canadian films in competition for the inaugural $10,000 Phillip Borsos Award which honors the late Canadian filmmaker. Among the guests confirmed for the festival are the directors of all the world premieres; plus actor/director/writer Don McKellar; actor Joely Collins; and actor and jury member Deborah Kara Unger.
“I am quite overwhelmed by the incredible response,” says Bill Evans, the festival’s director of programming. “We had nearly 400 submissions, more than double the 190 received last year. There were so many good films submitted, including 24 under consideration for the Phillip Borsos Award, that it was quite difficult to choose. I am indebted to our programming committee for their hard work. We will screen twice as many films as last year and are very proud of our program.”

The films competing for the Phillip Borsos Award are Reg Harkema’s BETTER OFF IN BED, a raucous story about two Canadian rock bands on a tour of Western Canada; James Head’s CABLE BEACH, a dramatic feature about a fisheries officer who tries to solve a murder; EIGHTEEN, the feature film debut by Vancouver’s Richard Bell, a story about two young men at war with themselves, starring Brendan Fletcher, Carly Pope, Alan C*****g and Paul Anthony; Kenny Hotz’s PAPAL CHASE, which documents the quest by Hotz (star of the hit TV show Kenny vs. Spenny) to meet the pope during his recent world tour; PART OF THE GAME, Vancouver filmmaker Rick Alyea’s debut feature, a gritty, powerful exploration of Vancouver’s drug underworld starring Richard DeKlerk; and Guarav Seth’s comedy-drama PINK LUDOOS, a film about an Indo-Canadian girl (Shaheen Khan of Bend It Like Beckham) set on a collision course with her traditionally-minded mother.

The other world premieres are WEIRD SEX AND SNOWSHOES: A TREK THROUGH THE CANADIAN CINEMATIC PSYCHE, Jill Sharpe’s documentary based on film critic Katherine Monk’s book about the growth, themes and motifs that run through Canadian films and how they are expressions of the Canadian experience and national identity (Monk will attend the fest); the documentary CALL IT KARMA, an inspirational story by Geoff Browne about a young Tibetan Monk, Gyalten Rinpoche, who meets up with the young filmmaker in the streets of Vancouver; and British Columbia director Stan Feingold’s documentary PRISONERS OF AGE, which follows New York photographer Ron Levine’s groundbreaking project with geriatric prisoners.

The North American premieres are Nina Davenport’s documentary PARALLEL LINES (USA); and Passagers de l’Everest (France), a documentary by Pierre Dutrievoz. Dutrievoz will attend the festival.

The festival opens on December 2 with a gala screening of CRAZY CANUCKS, the British Columbia premiere of Randy Bradshaw’s drama about the legendary kamikaze-like Canadian men’s downhill ski team of the 1970s. The director will attend the gala, as will former Crazy Canucks including Ken Read (now a member of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and author of White Circus, the book that inspired the film) and Steve Podborski. Late team member Dave Murray, the informal captain of the Crazy Canucks, will be represented by his wife Stephanie Sloan Murray and their daughter Julia Murray, herself a ski racer. The Whistler downhill course was renamed the Dave Murray Downhill after his death from cancer in 1990; it is the site of the downhill event for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games.

Whistler Film Festival will stage two free outdoor screenings on Friday and Saturday evenings on a giant inflatable screen in Village Square, the heart of this resort community. The first is The Best of CBC ZeD at 6 p.m. on December 3, with a program of 10 short films. On Saturday, December 4 at 6 p.m., The Best of BravoFACT Shorts will show eight short films on the outdoor screen.

American entries at Whistler include director Vadim Jean’s JIMINY GLICK IN LALAWOOD starring the inimitable Martin Short as Jiminy Glick in a side-splitting adventure stuffed with silver screen wit and wonderment (the screening is sponsored by Shaw TV’s Urban Rush); THE ASSASSINATION OF RICHARD NIXON, Niels Mueller’s directorial debut about one man’s frustration amid Nixon-era malaise; FINDING NEVERLAND, a fictional look at the creation of ‘Peter Pan’ that traverses both fantasy and everyday reality, melding the difficulties and heartbreak of adult life with spellbinding allure and childlike innocence of the boy who never grows up; John Sayles’ SILVER CITY, a star-studded film that is equal parts scathing political lampoon and neo-noir detective story; PRIMER, Shane Carruth’s first film (which is the winner of the top prize at the Sundance Film Festival) about four men who build ‘science fiction’ projects in a suburban garage; and Ondi Timoner’s fascinating film DIG! which chronicles the quest of Anton Newcombe of The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Courtney Taylor of The Dandy Warhols as they share a desire to tear down and rebuild the American pop music industry.

Among the British Columbia films scheduled are Karen Duthie’s documentary 100% WOMAN, Leanne Allison and Diane Wilson’s documentary BEING CARIBOU; Mark Lewis’s ILL FATED; Bruce MacDonald’s THE LOVE CRIMES OF GILLIAN GUESS (actor Joely Collins will attend the screening); Blaine Thurier’s MALE FANTASY; Velcrow Ripper’s SCAREDSACRED (the director will attend); and Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s documentary THE TAKE.

Additional program highlights include Don McKellar’s CHILDSTAR; Olivier Assayas’s CLEAN (which stars McKellar); Daniel Roby’s LA PEAU BLANCHE; Rob Stefaniuk’s PHIL THE ALIEN; Richard Eyre’s STAGE BEAUTY, John Duigan’s HEAD IN THE CLOUDS; and Walter Salles’s MOTORCYCLE DIARIES.

“The festival is undergoing phenomenal growth and development,” said festival director Shauna Hardy. “Not only has Bill Evans programmed a tremendous selection of films, we expect many directors and stars to attend and we have a stimulating line-up of special events and parties. In addition, we are enjoying unprecedented support from corporate and media sponsors, and that kind of support will help ensure the continued success of Whistler Film Festival.”

For more info, visit the Whistler Film Festival website.

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