I once again found myself in the wonderful winter whirlwind that is the Whistler Film Festival (“WFF”) this year, covering the festivities and films for Miss604.com.
More and more, I keep hearing festival guests making comparisons between WFF and the Sundance Film Festival – not to how it is now (with all the Hollywood glitz) but how it was back in the day. Now, I’ve never been to Sundance, but when I saw Adrian Grenier (Vince Chase from the television series Entourage) wandering around a party at the Barefoot Bistro (with an entourage, no less), I suddenly had an inkling of what they meant. I did feel as though I was in the Entourage episode where Vince and his boys go to Sundance. The music, the party, the snows, and the toques and UGG boots on beautiful people.
This was my fifth year attending the festival and it seems to just keep growing and growing, and getting better and better. Each year there are more panels, awards, tributes, and money to be given out to filmmakers. So maybe it’s fair to make such a comparison.
The parties were over-the-top, really. There were too many to count (and usually a few happening at the same time) but I did of course have a lovely evening at the Brightlight Pictures “white carpet” party at Araxi as well as the Spotlight Gala on Saturday night. I was also spoiled to swag at the Canadian Film Lounge, hosted by the First Weekend Club (I love my new Libre Tea mug!).
And – of course – the films. Though the festival brings in high profile members of the North American film community, they are still committed to supporting local and Canadian filmmakers. This yea, WIFF Artistic Director Stacey Donen implemented a new program, called “Work-in-Progress”, where a filmmaker screens their film still in post-production and gets audience feedback. The gunnea pig was director Rob Leicker and his film Lost Lagoon (my dog Momo has a role in it). It was a fantastic and visually-stunning film and though I may be partial to loving the film for reasons previously explained, I’m not the only arts reviewer who like it — Craig Takeuchi of the Georgia Straight liked it as well.
Other fantastic films shown at the film festival (all Canadian!): RasTa: A Soul’s Journey (a documentary by Bob Marley’s granddaughter Donish Prendergast about the Rastafarian movement in the world); Doppleganger Paul (an absurdist story about a man who thinks he’s another man’s doppleganger though he is nothing like said man); Café de Flore (a stunning story interweaving two stories about destiny and love. It’s actually playing at Fifth Avenue Cinemas right now); and of course, Lost Lagoon (a film about a Korean woman’s journey of self-discovery in Vancouver).
So once again, among the films, festivities, and snow, I had a wonderful time in Whistler. I guess the only complaint I have about WFF would be that I wish it were longer! I would love to see everything stretched out to 14 days. Who knows… maybe next year?