Whistler Film Festival (WFF) announced the full lineup of 86 bold and inspiring films for its 22nd edition taking place in-person from November 30, to December 4 2022 in Whistler, BC, and online from December 5 to January 2, 2023.
WFF’ open with the Western Canadian Premiere of White Noise, Noah Baumbach’s sly parody of an ideal American nuclear family under threat, featuring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig.
French director Thierry Donard taps into the mind of extreme sports athletes in the World Premiere of his film Human Extreme in WFF’s closing night selection.
Other significant award-contenders having their first Canadian festival showings at Whistler include Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio, a stop-motion reinvention of the classic Collodi tale set in fascist Italy, and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s epic Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths, about a journalist returning to his country in the final lap of his career.
Rian Johnson’s crowd-pleasing Glass Onion (People’s Choice runner-up at Toronto International Film Festival) and Laura Poitras’ All the Beauty and the Bloodshed (surprise Golden Lion winner at this year’s Venice Film Festival) will also inspire film buffs to make the trek to BC’s world-class ski destination to see great movies projected in 4k on the big screen.
Actor and director Jason Priestley returns to WFF for the World Premiere of Offside: The Harold Ballard Story. Big money, big headlines, and a long list of enemies – Harold Ballard made them all during the two decades he owned the crown jewel of Canadian sports – The Toronto Maple Leafs – down the road to ruin. This not-to-be-missed feature-length documentary explores one of the most controversial figures in Canadian sports history. Directed by Priestley, this world premiere marks the star’s return to the festival for the first time since the release of his critically-acclaimed film Cas and Dylan – the opening night selection at WFF in 2013.
Relationship dynamics are examined in Vanessa Matsui’s first feature, Midnight at the Paradise, which deals with three couples at different stages in their relationships and includes extraordinary performances by Liane Balaban, Allan Hawco and the late Kenneth Welsh in his final screen role. Exile, directed by Jason James, stars actor Adam Beach in his most haunting and mature performance yet as a father trying to deal with guilt when protecting his family following a DUI incident.
Music fans will love Boy City, a funny throwback to the era of boy bands and those who loved them, directed by Sean Cisterna and featuring Jonas Chernick. Chernick is also the co-lead in the comedy The End Of Sex directed by Sean Garrity, a sort of spiritual successor to My Awkward Sexual Adventure which won the Audience Award at WFF in 2012.
Programming strands this year are American Indies, Canadian Vanguard, Doc Bloc, Films From Away, From the Vault, Mountain Culture, New Voices, Special Presentations and ShortWork.
BORSOS COMPETITION FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE
Along with EXILE, MIDNIGHT AT THE PARADISE and THE END OF SEX, 11 other titles will be in the running.
SOFT-SPOKEN WEEPY CULT CHILD, directed by Irina Lord, deals with a daughter whose mother is a member of a religious sect. ADULT ADOPTION, directed by Karen Knox, tells the story of a lonely adult foster-home graduate who longs for family connection and tries to get adopted as an adult. And BROKEN ANGEL traces an abusive relationship as an Indigenous woman and her daughter seek respite by escaping to an Indigenous safe house. Director Jules Koostachin’s son Asivak, (a WFF21 Star to Watch) also star in the movie.
The four Quebec entries this year all deal with family, two of which are on the road. RODEO, directed by Joelle Desjardins-Paquette, is about a trucker who illegally runs off with his young daughter to Western Canada to participate in a truck rodeo. Guillaume Lambert’s NIAGARA follows three sons who have to put their differences aside as they take a road trip to bury their father who died following a “bucket challenge” in Niagara Falls. COYOTE, by Katherine Jerkovic, tells the story of a struggling ex-chef who suddenly has to look after his grandson following his daughter’s need to go to rehab.
No words can truly describe the bizarre hilarity found in Martin Villeneuve’s affectionate tribute to his paternal grandmother, THE 12 TASKS OF IMELDA. Donning granny’s clothes and make-up, a la Tyler Perry’s MEDEA, Villeneuve himself plays Imelda as a tart-tongued force of nature–nasty, petty, but full of life and not willing to fade into the great beyond without putting up a fight.
Additional BC-based Borsos entries include Jeffery Lando’s LISSA’S TRIP, a psychedelic film about an actress in LA who accidentally imbibes a lot of acid on the day of a major audition. The visual effects used to represent the hallucinatory images in the film were created by Lando, who experimented with artificial intelligence to ensure the audience experiences the full extent of Lissa’s psychedelic trip.
COLORBLIND follows a Black mother and her son, who are both colorblind by birth, as they move to a new apartment and get entangled with a racist landlord. The film is directed by mostafa keshvari.
From the Yukon comes POLARIS, a dystopian action movie set in a frozen future, a sort of MAD MAX on Skidoos, directed by WFF alumni KC Carthew. Representing Winnipeg comes the stylish DIASPORA, directed by deco dawson. Set in North Winnipeg, it tells the story of a young Ukrainian immigrant who lands in a new neighborhood where virtually nobody speaks English, much less Ukrainian. The architecture of the run-down areas and the colorful locals who have made these dwellings homes and businesses make for a fascinating and original look at the immigrant experience in Canada.
Canadian films out of competition include Mary Nighy’s ALICE DARLING starring Oscar® nominee Anna Kendrick who plays a woman pushed to the breaking point by her psychologically abusive boyfriend.
WFF will present an exciting line-up of documentaries, with a strong focus on sports and music.
For sports fans, ICE-BREAKER: THE ‘72 SUMMIT SERIES, directed by Robbie Hart and based on a book by diplomat Gary J. Smith, is a must-see that examines the unforgettable 1972 hockey series between Canada and the Soviets set against the Cold War political backdrop that defined the era. It’s a fine companion piece to Jason Priestly’s OFFSIDE: THE HAROLD BALLARD STORY. OUT IN THE RING brings a queer perspective to the screen as director Ry Levey explores the history of LGBTQ representation in professional wrestling through archival footage and interviews.
Music has a large presence in the WFF doc mix this year. A special screening of BUFFY SAINTE-MARIE: CARRY IT ON, with a live-streamed and in-theatre Zoom conversation with the iconic singer, songwriter, and activist, takes place on December 2. The documentary is directed by Madison Thomas, an alum of the Whistler Film Festival Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship (2017).
WFF will screen the too-crazy-to-be-believed behind-the-scenes concert doc REVIVAL ‘69: THE CONCERT THAT ROCKED THE WORLD. It features John Lennon in his first post-Beatles appearance, as well as Yoko Ono, Klaus Voorman, Eric Clapton, Alice Cooper (and the infamous chicken incident that put him on the map), Little Richard, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Doors, plus a couple of hundred bikers used to provide Lennon with a motorized escort from Pearson Airport to Varsity Stadium to make the concert in time. A must-see for any rock historian.
This year, WFF’s Mountain Culture selection is represented on an international and local scale. Australian director Jennifer Peedom will grace audiences with her breathtaking documentaries MOUNTAIN and RIVER. Both films focus on the artistry of mother nature and will leave viewers feeling deeply connected to the world around us.
Thierry Donard of Nuit De Glisse (NDG Films) brings us RESET and the closing night selection HUMAN EXTREME. Shot over two years with BC as one of its locations, Donard focuses on extreme sports practitioners and the natural environments where they choose to play.
Also featured in the mountain culture competition is KNOW BEFORE YOU GO, the latest film from Whistler local legends Sherpas Cinemas, who are also credited as cinematographers on Peedom’s films. The festival will also be welcoming back WFF alumni Mike Douglas and Anthony Bonello (GUILT TRIP, SNOWMAN) with TRACING INFLUENCE, which connects six skiers and the people who inspired their lives.
FILMS FROM AWAY
The three Films From Away strand starts with a family-friendly film from Ukraine, GULLIVER RETURNS, based on an idea and concept by President Volodymyr Zelensky. Over 35 Ukrainian animators worked on the computer-generated animation that follows Gulliver’s journey back to the land of Lilliput after a forty year absence – only he is not the giant they remember.
SALT LAKE is a powerful exploration of late-life desire and emancipation. In this Polish film, 64-year-old Helena announces her intention to pursue sexual experiences with other men before she dies, much to the shock of her husband of 40 years. And WINTER BOY features Juliette Binoche as the mother of a gay 17-year-old son trying to adjust after the death of his father.
WFF’s American Indies strand is particularly cutting-edge and inventive this year. Selections include
BABY RUBY, a film that looks at postpartum depression and an inability to bond with your child, featuring GAME OF THRONES’ Kit Harington and Noémie Merlant.
SANCTUARY is a riveting two-hander about a professional dominatrix who tries to blackmail her client when he inherits a lot of money. Margaret Qualley and Christopher Abbott star in this intense cat-and-mouse game.
FÉLINE@6.15 is Carl Bessai’s ingenious look at a day in the life of an online influencer who is dealing with a health scare. CORNER OFFICE, shot in BC and based on the novel The Room by Jonas Karlsson, stars Jon Hamm as an uptight overachiever who discovers a hidden office that no one else can see when he starts a new job at a strange company. And Steve Zahn was made to play the stoned-out surfer dad living in Mexico and reunited with his almost grown-up daughter in the very funny and touching GRINGA.
Rounding out the American Indies is the charming LITTLE JAR from Dominic Lopez about Ainsley, a misanthropic woman who must work from home, where she befriends a stuffed mouse.
WFF is excited to unveil six ShortWorks programs consisting of 45 short films from Canada and around the world that highlight the creativity, diversity, and strength of storytelling in this form. The program includes celebrated filmmaker and Whistler alumni Ingrid Veninger’s beautifully composed drama “If you were me”, as well as the Western Canadian premieres of the top short film prize winners from TIFF: Canadian-Egyptian director Aziz Zoromba’s “Simo” and Mongolian director Lkhagvadulam (Dulmaa) Purev-Ochir’s “Snow in September.”
ShortWorks also features work from a number of Whistler film and talent alumni including Aisha Evelyna, Andrea Nirmala Widjajanto, and Ariane Louis-Seize, as well as exciting debuts from Canadian directors Gaëlle Graton and Nancy Pettinicchio.
ShortWorks will shine a spotlight on BC talent with 22 shorts at the fest, including the World Premieres of alumni Ali Liebert’s “Calls from a Bridge”; compelling action sports documentaries “The Trapline” directed by Andrea Wing and “Skin Swimmer” directed by Hannah Walsh; and debuts from student filmmakers Zane Klassen, Cam Liardi, and Calum Watson.