Threading Up the Whistler Film Festival, 2011 Edition

By Jason Whyte
Posted 12/01/11 03:06:21

Snow. Movies. Great food. Good people. All in a resort town. What more can you ask for? The 2011 edition of the Whistler Film Festival is upon us today, and this writer is more than excited to take on the five breakneck days of film celebration in the mountain village of Whistler, BC, Canada.

If you have read my previous coverage, there isn't really anything new I can say about the incredible experience that Whistler Film Festival is every year. Under the solid direction of festival director Shauna Hardy Mishaw and creative director Stacey Donen, the close-knit festival takes place entirely in the village; from the gala premieres at the Conference Center to the screenings at the adorable Village 8 Cinemas and Millennium Place, to the many panels, tributes, master classes and parties that take place from November 30th to December 4th.

For people traveling here (of which there are many), people attending the Whistler Film Festival are quick to discover how easy it is to get around from their hotels. For people in Whistler, no doubt this is an exciting addition to an already packed year of local events. Even more so for the 2011 edition, which brings big names like Michael Shannon (star of the great film “Take Shelter”, my favorite film at this year’s Fantastic Fest), Jay Baruchel (“The Trotsky”, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice”), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (director of the recent animated hit “Kung Fu Panda 2) along with many talented filmmakers, actors and industry.

This year's edition of Whistler Film Festival kicks off tonight at the Whistler Conference Centre with a special advance screening of "Young Adult", directed by Jason Reitman ("Up In The Air", "Juno") and starring Charlize Theron, Patrick Wilson and Patton Oswalt. Oswalt, no stranger to fans of standup, online "Funny Or Die" videos or the animated gem "Ratatouille" will be in attendance at this screening to be rewarded with an honorary award for his performance in the film. Closing the festival on Sunday night is Max Bervy’s mountain documentary “Warren Miller…Like There’s No Tomorrow” which features stunning footage and stories from all over the ski world. As a secret fan of ski docs (I loved "Mount St. Elias" which screened here in 2009, along with "Steep" in 2007), I am looking forward to this one.

The majority of the programming this year, as always, is Canadian, and the lineup of films in the annual Philip Borsos competition is shaping up to be one of the best yet. There’s “Monsieur Lazhar” by director Phillipe Falerdeau (of “Congrama” and “It’s Not Me, I Swear!” fame), which is Canada’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Oscar this year. “388 Arletta Avenue” is the new film by Randall Cole, who wowed me with his last feature “Real Time” and this follow-up looks great. There’s “Marilyn” directed by Christopher Petry and starring Ryan Robbins and Allison Mack which looks quite intense. “Café De Flore”, starring the lovely Vanessa Paradis is also one to watch, as it comes from director Jean Marc-Valee, who wowed audiences with both “C.R.A.Z.Y” and “The Young Victoria” in the last few years. Things also get a bit odd with “Keyhole”, which is Guy Maddin’s latest film (if you follow his work like me, you know how off-kilter things can get). And things get even more bizarre in -- one of my favorite movie titles of the year --, “Doppledanger Paul” , a mistaken identity comedy that comes from co-directors Dylan Akio Smith (“The Cabin Movie”) and Kris Elgestrand, both based out of Vancouver.

It doesn’t stop there. In addition is a solid lineup of domestic and international films. Among the lineup is Patrick Wang’s stunning family drama “In The Family”, David Cronenberg’s big new Jung/Freud drama “A Dangerous Method” starring Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender (actress Sarah Gadon, who has won accolades for her performance as Emma Jung, is in attendance at Whistler this year and is on the Philip Borsos jury), Sarah Polley’s solid sophomore effort “Take This Waltz” which was the Canadian Images opening gala at this year’s Vancouver International Film Festival, Luc Besson’s epic new film “The Lady” which stars Michelle Yeoh and is set in Burma, Sundance/SxSW documentary “Being Elmo: A Pupeteer’s Journey” about Elmo creator Kevin Clash and Simon Davidson’s breakneck “The Odds” which is a thrilling drama on youth gambling filmed in Vancouver,

If you're attending Whistler Film Festival for the first time this year, start your experience at the box office at the Whistler Conference Center. Ask a friendly volunteer at the conference center on how to get around and make the most of your fest experience. Be sure to pick up a program and read up on the many films and events happening over the fast paced long weekend at the festival. Try to hit the slopes in the morning before movies. And when you're hungry, try a poutine and a smokie at Zog's Dogs near the ski lifts. You're welcome.

For more information on the Whistler Film Festival, including more information on the features and shorts in competition, ticket information and so forth, point your browser to

For more immediate coverage of this year's Whistler Film Festival, be sure to follow my Twitter feed @jasonwhyte for comments, mini-reviews and photos. Also follow me on Facebook for access to more pictures.

Jason Whyte,

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