Here’s the “reel” deal on the best flicks screening at this renowned film festival.
There’s a certain vibrant, small-town aesthetic that comes to mind when planning a trip to Whistler, BC. Whether it’s the dense forests and craggy mountain peaks, the thought of looking out at a starry winter sky as you turn in for the night, or a server at a top-shelf restaurant turning the corner with your meal just as your stomach growls, Whistler offers something for travellers of all stripes.
Maybe you’re already heading there to carve the slopes at Whistler Blackcomb, to indulge in a luxurious getaway at one of the area’s many spas or to take a stroll through history at a local museum, gallery or cultural centre. But this picturesque town plays host to a cinematic experience that you need to add to your list.
The Whistler Film Festival (WFF), which takes place November 28 - December 2, offers a unique opportunity to explore some of the best in Canadian cinema. First launched in 2001, WFF was created to spotlight our country’s up-and-coming talent and create an intimate space where filmmakers and film fans can connect. The festival offers a tight-knit community that’s utterly unique and welcoming, and committed to providing a stage for undiscovered and at times underrepresented filmmakers. Eighty-five films will be presented at this year’s festival (64 percent of which are Canadian-made), including 50 features and 35 shorts hailing from 12 different countries.
Here’s the inside scoop on the most talked-about films you need to see for yourself at this year’s festival.
An Audience of Chairs
(Deanne Foley, Canada) A concert pianist (Carolina Bartczak) on the verge of a career breakthrough hides her fear that her mental health is breaking down. What little stability she has may crumble beneath her feet, however, as she confronts how her health could affect the custody of her two daughters. Based on an award-winning novel by Joan Clark, this tense psychological drama will leave you breathless as you watch a single mistake unfurl a family at its core. Falls Around Her
(Darlene Naponse, Canada) Homecoming proves far more difficult than you’d hope for a renowned Anishinaabe musician (Tantoo Cardinal), who returns to the reserve where she was raised to discover a community that she no longer recognizes as her own. This remarkable drama marks the first ever starring role for Cardinal, who has built a career playing stand-out supporting roles in movies such as Dances with Wolves, Legends of the Fall and Wind River. Honey Bee
(Rama Rau, Canada) An underage sex worker (Julia Sarah Stone), torn away from her two-faced pimp, gets a chance for a new start when she’s sent to work on a farm far away from the nightlife she knows so well. This Canadian indie, anchored by a tour-de-force performance from Stone, is an unblinking look at female sexuality and the forces that attempt to control it. Momentum Generation
(Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, USA) The average person might not recognize names like Kelly Slater, Rob Machado or Shane Dorian, but anyone who dipped their toe into the 1990s surfing scene likely considers them legends. Stitched together from exclusive archival footage, this documentary dives headfirst into the backstories of some of the sport’s biggest stars and explores the ways that they reinvented it for the wave of competitors. Nose to Tail
(Jesse Zigelstein, Canada) Turn the gas on high and watch the pot bubble to a boil in this tense drama about the high-end culinary industry. Aaron Abrams stars as a hard-edged, accomplished chef juggling his personal and professional lives over the course of a single day that could cost him everything. Don’t leave your appetite at the door, because this movie is worth every bite. Red Rover
(Shane Belcourt, Canada) What happens when a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to leave Earth forever reveals itself just as you meet the one person worth sticking around for? This charming comedy from Métis director Shane Belcourt explores the far outer reaches of life, love and hope, following a down-on-his-luck geologist (Kristian Bruun) as he tries to join a one-way mission to Mars—encouraged along the way by a spirited musician (Cara Gee) who may be just the flash of life he’s looking for. Maybe you’re travelling to Whistler for a ski getaway, to enjoy a bite of fine dining, to treat yourself to some retail therapy or to take advantage of the incredible deals on accommodations (you can currently book two-night stays from $160 per night during the festival film dates through Whistler’s site!). But once you’re done filling your day (and stomach) with Whistler’s finest, take your seat and immerse yourself in the incredible films screening at this year’s Whistler Film Festival. Curtains up!