LOST TRANSMISSIONS, directed by Katharine O’Brien
LOST TRANSMISSIONS, directed by Katharine O’Brien

Returning for its 19th edition from December 4 to 8, the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) will showcase 86 fresh films, comprising of 43 features and 43 shorts from 15 countries.

WFF is set to open this year with the Canadian Premiere of LOST TRANSMISSIONS, directed by Katharine O’Brien starring Simon Pegg and Juno Temple. Pegg (Theo) and Juno (Hannah) shine as LA music scene devotees, each battling their own mental health issues, who decide to abandon their respective medications in their quest for unfettered musical greatness. Simon Pegg, known for STAR TREK, STARS WARS, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and SHAUN OF THE DEAD, simply stuns with his delicate and empathetic performance as a gifted music producer compelled to listen to the voices dancing in his head. First-time director Katharine O’Brien has created a realistic film about mental illness that will ring true to anyone who has dealt closely with these issues, as well as prove unforgettable to those less familiar with mental health struggles.

Highlights include the Canadian film festival premiere of THE IRISHMAN directed by Martin Scorsese, Canada’s entry in this year’s foreign-language Oscars category ANTIGONE directed by Sophie Deraspe, and Emile Goudreault’s COMPULSIVE LIAR (MENTEUR), the highest grossing Canadian film of the year with over $6M in domestic box office. In addition, the festival will also screen HOPE GAP directed by William Nicholson with Annette Bening and Bill Nighy, THE AERONAUTS directed by Tom Harper starring Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne, as well as ORDINARY LOVE co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa and Glenn Leyburn starring Liam Neeson and Lesley Manville and THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS directed by Lone Scherfig starring Zoe Kazan, Jay Baruchel, Caleb Landry Jones and Bill Nighy.

WFF will also feature the World Premiere of CABARETE, a rare film about an aspiring competitive kite-surfer shot on the scenic beaches of the Dominican Republic, and the North American premiere of LIBERTÉ: A CALL TO SPY, an exciting true story about female spies during WWII. The film is an American movie shot partly in Budapest and produced and written by Sarah Megan Thomas and directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher. Canadian Premieres include LOCUSTS, a gripping film noir shot in the Australian outback. WFF will also screen three American Indies, two of which will be gracing Canadian screens for the first time. These films include the Canadian premieres of THE ARTIST’S WIFE, directed by Tom Dolby starring Bruce Dern and Lena Olin, RANGE RUNNERS directed by newcomer Philip S. Plowden, and the Western Canadian Premiere of VIVARIUM, directed by Lorcan Finnegan starring Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots.

Closing the festival is a double-bill of Western Canadian premieres GROSSO’S LOVELETTERS TO CANADA and THE TONY ALVA STORY co-directed by Coan Buddy Nichols & Rick Charnoski. From season 10 of Jeff Grosso’s Love Letters to Skateboarding series, GROSSO’S LOVELETTERS TO CANADA showcases some of Canada’s most iconic skate spots and catches up with local luminaries, from Joe Buffalo in Ottawa to Rob Boyce in Vancouver. The episode will premiere right before THE TONY ALVA STORY, which chronicles skate legend Tony Alva’s humble beginnings on the streets of Santa Monica through his journey to become the godfather of modern-day skateboarding. The film features interviews with Stacey Peralta, Gus Van Sant, Josh Brolin, Steve Olson and Jeff Grosso as well as Alva himself who, at 60 years old, is still shredding everyday.

Programming strands include American Indies, Canadian Vanguard, Discoveries, Doc Bloc, From Overseas, From The Vault, Mountain Culture, New Voices, ShortWork, Special Presentations, Spotlight and World Premieres. Twenty four of WFF’s forty three features are Canadian, English Canadian or World Premiere presentations.

This year, 20 Canadian films will contend for the coveted Borsos award. Titles up for consideration include the World Premieres of CANADIAN STRAIN directed by Geordie Sabbagh, THE CUBAN directed by Sergio Navaretta, FALL BACK DOWN directed by 2018 Women on Top participant Sara Beth Edwards, THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY directed by Craig Pryce, PROMISE LAND directed by Kirk Caouette, QUEEN OF THE MORNING CALM directed by 2016 Women on Top award recipient Gloria Ui Young Kim, SPINSTER directed by Andrea Dorfman and starring Chelsea Peretti in her feature film debut, (with Peretti expected to attend), THINGS I DO FOR MONEY directed by Warren P. Sonoda, and THUNDERBIRD directed by Nicholas Treeshin.

Canadian premieres in the Borsos Competition include Gaurav Seth’s ENTANGLED, Tony Dean Smith’s VOLITION and WE HAD IT COMING directed by Paul Barbeau. English Canadian premieres include Marquise Lepage’s APAPACHO: A CARESS FOR THE SOUL and Onur Karaman’s GUILT (LE COUPABLE).

Western Canadian premieres in the competition include ANTIGONE directed by Sophie Deraspe, BLACK CONFLUX directed by Nicole Dorsey, Melanie Oates’ BODY AND BONES, Bruce McDonald’s DREAMLAND, FROM THE VINE directed by Sean Cisterna and starring Joseph Pantoliano, and HAMMER directed by Christian Sparkes. The screening of ANTIGONE marks the second year in a row WFF has hosted Canada’s foreign-language submission to the Oscars.

Other Canadian films of note in this year’s lineup include JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF directed by Jeremy LaLonde and THE REST OF US, a stunning first featuredirected by Ainsling Chin-Yee with Heather Graham and Jodi Balfour.

In addition to the Western Canadian premiere of the double-bill GROSSO’S LOVE LETTERS TO SKATEBOARDING: CANADA and THE TONY ALVA STORY which will close the festival, other Mountain Culture entries include the double-bill of SKI LEGENDS from Whistler local Lois Neu and ACCIDENTAL CLIMBER directed by Steven Oritt, big budget Chinese mountain epic THE CLIMBERS directed by Daniel Lee, and the Canadian Premiere of the Swiss documentary LOOKING FOR SUNSHINE about Olympic skier Lara Gut directed by Nicolo Castelli.

This year’s Doc Bloc competition features a refreshingly diverse lineup with two BC-based productions – ALONE ACROSS THE ARCTIC directed by Francis Luta and CLOSING THE GAP: HOCKEY IN NORTH KOREA directed by Nigel Edwards – both World Premieres. In addition, we are proud to present NAIL IN THE COFFIN: EL VAMPIRO CANADIENSE directed by Michael Paszt, PANDORA’S BOX: LIFTING THE LID ON MENSTRUATION (Canada) directed by Rebecca Snow and ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND (Canada) directed by Daniel Roher, the latter having opened this year’s Toronto Film Festival.

WFF’s Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature jury is made up of a diverse group of Canadian storytellers, two of whom have had films at our festival. The jury includes one of Canada’s most successful veteran producers Peter O’Brian, responsible for such films asTHE GREY FOX, ONE MAGIC CHRISTMAS, and JOHN AND THE MISSUS; award-winning director, screenwriter and producer Robert Budreau, whose film STOCKHOLM won the Borsos Award for Best Screenplay in 2018, and whose feature film BORN TO BE BLUE screened at WFF in 2016; and internationally acclaimed, award-winning Métis Cree Canadian filmmaker, activist and storyteller Loretta Todd, who is the director, co-writer and producer of upcoming feature film MONKEY BEACH, based on the iconic novel by Eden Robinson.

The World Documentary jury includes Vancouver-based documentarian and teacher Julia Ivanova who was the subject of the Hot Docs Festival’s Focus On retrospective in 2019; former NFB producer Tracey Friesen, also the author and founder of Story Money Impact, which produces Good Pitch Vancouver; and former Chief Creative Officer and Partner at Force Four Entertainment, John Ritchie,who has overseen the creation of more than 500 hours of film and television in all genres, including the multiple award-winning feature 65_REDROSES and Peabody Award-winning CBC dramatic mini-series Human Cargo.

This year’s Mountain Culture jury includes Whistler-born Peter Harvey, an award-winning independent producer committed to quality Canadian storytelling. His first feature film PICTURE DAY starring Tatiana Maslany won the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature Film in 2012, along with Best Performance for Maslany. He returns this year as the producer of Melanie Oates’ BODY AND BONES. Joining him is Squamish-based filmmaker, environmentalist and snowboarder Tamo Campos, founder of the non-profit Beyond Boarding and co-director of WFF18 title THE RADICALS, and Whisler local Erin Hogue, who has been awarded an X-Games Gold Medal in the competition’s 2017 Zoom Photography contest and selected as an Oprah Magazine Insider as well as a Sony Alpha Female. Erin is a photographer, speaker, writer and a creative director with an impressive client list including Oakley, ESPN, Transworld Snowboarding, Red Bull, Roxy and more.

The ShortWork Jury includes writer, director and producer Gloria Ui Young Kim who, in addition to being the winner of the WIDC Feature Film Award at the 2016 WFF, will world premiere her debut feature QUEEN OF THE MORNING CALM at this year’s festival; writer, director, producer SB Edwards (known for writing on the Netflix series TRAVELERS) whose debut feature FALL BACK DOWN is also having its world premiere at the festival this year; and director Gaurav Seth (known for PASSAGE TO OTTAWA which won a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival) whose feature ENTANGLED is having its Canadian premiere at this year’s festival.

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ EDA Awards will be presented for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and for Best Female-Directed Short Film. Eligible female-directed films are being screened as part of the festival’s regular program, and are nominated for EDA Awards consideration by Whistler Film Festival’s administration and programmers. The Narrative feature jury includes: Jennifer Merin (Chair), Liz Braun, Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, Susan Wloszczyna and b. The Female-directed Short Award jury includes: Marina Antunes (Chair), Betsy Bozdech, Leba Hertz, Lois Alter Mark and Diana Saenger.

The 12th annual MPPIA Short Film Award pitch competition presented by MPPIA and Creative BC, and sponsored by Bridge Studios will take place on December 7. Five shortlisted candidates will pitch their projects before a jury of three industry professionals and an audience. The winner will be awarded with $15,000 cash plus $100,000 worth of services in kind from across the industry including mentorship, production services and equipment supplies enabling them to complete their project. The completed project will have its world premiere at the 2020 Whistler Film Festival. The MPPIA jury includes WFF Alumni Emily Alden, former Vice-President of Pacific Northwest Pictures and producer of Carl Bessai’s features UNNATURAL & ACCIDENTAL and SISTERS & BROTHERS; writer, producer, and educator Doreen Manuel (Secwepemc/Ktunaxa) who is the Director of the Bosa Center for Film and Animation and the founder of the Tricksters and Writers program; and director Francis Luta whose feature ALONE IN THE ARCTIC is having its Canadian premiere at this year’s festival.

WFF 2019 COMPLETE FEATURE FILM LISTING (BY STRAND)

American Indies

THE ARTIST’S WIFE (USA) Dir. Tom Dolby

RANGE RUNNERS (USA) Dir. Philip S Plowden

VIVARIUM (United States) Dir. Lorcan Finnegan

Canadian Vanguard

DREAMLAND (Canada) Dir. Bruce McDonald

ENTANGLED (Canada) Dir. Gaurav Seth

HAMMER (Canada) Dir. Christian Sparkes

JAMES VS HIS FUTURE SELF (Canada) Dir. Jeremy LaLonde

VOLITION (Canada) Dir. Tony Dean Smith

Closing Night Film

GROSSO’S LOVE LETTERS TO SKATEBOARDING: CANADA (Canada) Dir. Buddy Nichols & THE TONY ALVA STORY (United States) Double bill – Dir. Coan Buddy Nichols & Rick Charnoski

Discoveries

APAPACHO: A CARESS FOR THE SOUL (Canada) Dir. Marquise Lepage

BLACK CONFLUX (Canada) Dir. Nicole Dorsey

FROM THE VINE (Canada) Dir. Sean Cisterna

GUILT (LE COUPABLE) (Canada) Dir. Onur Karaman

WE HAD IT COMING (Canada) Dir. Paul Barbeau

Doc Bloc

ALONE ACROSS THE ARCTIC (Canada) Dir. Francis Luta

CLOSING THE GAP: HOCKEY IN NORTH KOREA (Canada) Dir. Nigel Edwards

NAIL IN THE COFFIN: EL VAMPIRO CANADIENSE (Canada) Dir. Michael Paszt

ONCE WERE BROTHERS: ROBBIE ROBERTSON AND THE BAND (Canada) Dir. Daniel Roher

PANDORA’S BOX: LIFTING THE LID OF MENSTRUATION (Canada) Dir. Rebecca Snow

From Overseas

THE AERONAUTS (United Kingdom & USA) Dir. Tom Harper

CABARETE (Dominican Republic) Dir. Ivan Bordas Butler

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (Denmark) Dir. Lone Scherfig

LOCUSTS (Australia) Dir. Heath Davis

ORDINARY LOVE (United Kingdom) Dir. Lisa Barros D’Sa & Glenn Leyburn

From The Vault

THE GREY FOX (Canada) Dir. Phillip Borsos

Mountain Culture

SKI LEGENDS (Canada) Dir. Lois Neu & ACCIDENTAL CLIMBER (United States) Dir. Steven Oritt

THE CLIMBERS (China) Dir. Daniel Lee

GROSSO’S LOVE LETTER TO CANADA (Canada) Dir. Buddy Nichols & THE TONY ALVA STORY (United States) Dir. Coan Buddy Nichols & Rick Charnoski

LOOKING FOR SUNSHINE (Switzerland) Dir. Nicolo Castelli

New Voices

BODY AND BONES (Canada) Dir. Melanie Oates

FALL BACK DOWN (Canada) Dir. Sara Beth Edwards

QUEEN OF THE MORNING CALM (Canada) Dir. Gloria Ui Young Kim

THE REST OF US (Canada) Dir. Ainsling Chin-Yee

THUNDERBIRD (Canada) Dir. Nicholas Treeshin

Opening Night Film

LOST TRANSMISSIONS (USA) Dir. Katharine O’Brien

Special Presentations

LIBERTÉ: A CALL TO SPY (United Kingdom) Dir. Lydia Dean Pilcher

SPINSTER (Canada) Directed by Andrea Dorfman

THE IRISHMAN (USA) Dir. Martin Scorsese

Spotlight

ANTIGONE (Canada) Dir. Sophie Deraspe

COMPULSIVE LIAR (MENTEUR) (Canada) Dir. Emile Goudreault

HOPE GAP (United States) Dir. William Nicholson

World Premieres

CANADIAN STRAIN (Canada) Dir. Geordie Sabbagh

THE CUBAN (Canada) Dir. Sergio Navaretta

THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY (Canada) Dir. Craig Pryce

PROMISELAND (Canada) Dir. Kirk Caouette

THINGS I DO FOR MONEY (Canada) Dir. Warren P. Sonoda

WFF 2019 Feature Films Eligible for the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature

ANTIGONE

APAPACHO: A CARESS FOR THE SOUL

BLACK CONFLUX

BODY AND BONES

CANADIAN STRAIN

THE CUBAN

DREAMLAND

ENTANGLED

FALL BACK DOWN

FROM THE VINE

GUILT (LE COUPABLE)

HAMMER

THE MARIJUANA CONSPIRACY

PROMISELAND

QUEEN OF THE MORNING CALM

SPINSTER

THINGS I DO FOR MONEY

THUNDERBIRD

VOLITION

WE HAD IT COMING

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