The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) returns December 2 to 6, and is offering a sneak peek of what audiences can expect at this year’s fest including its first 18 confirmed films.
WFF’s Director of Programming and industry veteran Paul Gratton had this to say about the 2015 lineup confirmed to date: “While our final line-up of titles is far from complete, early programming trends suggest a very strong year for female directors and innovative new voices from young directors hoping to find new ways of telling stories and connecting with audiences.”
One such example of innovation at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival is the World Premiere showing of Daniel Robinson’s NESTOR, the first narrative feature ever made by one person, who wrote, produced, directed, edited and stars in this compelling tale of outdoor survival.
Another example of seeking out new narrative approaches, and leading this year’s women directors’ invasion of Whistler, is DIY queen Ingrid Veninger’s latest HE HATED PIGEONS about a young man pushed to the border of sanity as he steps into manhood. Beautifully shot in South America, the film is designed to support a spontaneous live score to be performed during the screening. In other words, each screening will evoke different responses depending on the approach taken by the live musician(s) accompanying the showing.
Other female directed gems coming to Whistler include the World Premiere of Vancouver filmmaker Melanie Jones’ FSM, a contemporary study of a female DJ trying to find love in a world of technological innovation and all-night raves.
Continuing its love of quirky musicals, WFF will present the Western Canadian premiere of Jude Klassen’s debut feature film LOVE IN THE SIXTH, an unromantic musical comedy of “enviromantic” angst. Another Canadian Premiere is Valerie Weiss’ A LIGHT BENEATH THEIR FEET, a superb study of the mutually dependent relationship between a young student hoping to leave home for college and her bipolar mother who can’t cope with the thought of letting her go. Taryn Manning, Maddie Hasson and Madison Davenport lead a superb cast. Another moving look at mother/daughter relationships can be found in the World Premiere of Siobhan Devine’s THE BIRDWATCHER, a family drama about a mother and daughter reconnecting starring WFF14 Rising Star Camille Sullivan and Gabrielle Rose.
The challenge of maintaining interpersonal relationships of any kind remains a dominant theme in this year’s selections. Be they outrageously comedic, as in the case of Jeremy Lalonde’s HOW TO PLAN ORGY IN A SMALL TOWN, featuring Lauren Holly and Katharine Isabelle, or more darkly humorous, as in Sergio Navarretta’s THE COLOSSAL FAILURE OF THE MODERN RELATIONSHIP, set during a mouth-watering winetasting tour of the Niagara region. Darker still is the Canadian Premiere of Josh Hope’s THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AN UNHAPPILY MARRIED MAN, in which a disillusioned young man decides to visit his past to see where it all went wrong. Brian Stockton’s THE SABBATICAL is a comedic look at a photography professor’s mid-life crisis and a young artist who rekindles the lost spirit of his youth, and Matthew Yim’s BASIC HUMAN NEEDS follows a young couple whose plans to get out of Regina are thwarted by a missing prophylactic. BC’s own Fred Ewanuick stars as a man who can see two minutes into the future in Vancouver filmmaker O. Corbin Saleken’s very amusing first feature PATTERSON’S WAGER. BC based genre specialist Jeffery Lando will be gracing our late night screens with the Western Canadian Premiere of his latest horror outing SUSPENSION. John Ainslie will be unveiling the World premiere of his tense psychological thriller THE SUBLET, about a new mother unraveling psychologically after and she and her fiance move into a sublet apartment, featuring Vancouver actress Tianna Nori in the lead.
On the documentary front, WFF will be presenting the North American premiere of Jan Foukal’s AMERIKA, a lyrical look at a unique Eastern European phenomenon known as ‘tramping’, as Vancouver-based Barbara Adler takes us on a mission into the mountains and the forests of the Czech Republic where she encounters social dropouts who choose to live what they consider to be a North American back-to-the-wilderness lifestyle. LAST HARVEST, from director Jane Hui Wang, is a Canadian documentary feature that looks at an elderly Chinese couple forced to relocate by the government to make way for a mammoth water diversion project. Also, on the international front, Whistler is proud to present the Canadian Premiere of BLOOD CELLS by Joseph Bull and Luke Seomore about a lost man wandering through the British countryside, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival, and was described by Time Magazine as ‘visually sumptuous’.
As always, Whistler will feature the best of Quebec cinema, and this year the festival has two superb titles already lined up. Bernard Emond’s DIARY OF AN OLD MAN (pictured above) is a deeply moving adaptation of an Anton Chekov story about an old man fighting feelings of bitterness despite his privileged life as an academic, starring Paul Savoie in a Canada Screen Awards worthy performance. Finally, a most haunting look at childhood innocence, at risk from the evils of an outside world is Philippe Lesage’s THE DEMONS starring Pascale Bussières and Laurent Lucas, about a tight-knit small-town community beset by a child serial killer.