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Back Up The Hill: Taking a look at the 2013 Whistler Film Festival

CAS & DYLAN: Opening Night Film
by Jason Whyte

Now in its 13th year, the Whistler Film Festival continues to get stronger and stronger. This is the seventh year I have trekked up the hill from my little house in Victoria, BC to take part in the annual festivities. From the snow, the great films, the fun events and the hot dog/poutine joint nestled right near the ski gondolas, this is an annual tradition and this looks to be one of the best yet. First attending in 2007 gave me a fresh perspective on traveling to and attending film festivals, and I look forward to seeing what happens.

Throughout the year when attending film festivals, I am always asked if Whistler Film Festival is “Sundance of the North”. Granted, this isn't as big as Sundance nor does it intend to be, rather this annual five day event which all takes place in the cozy, pedestrian friendly Whistler Village is a unique, wonderful event all its own. For five days, the festival combines a great selection of films by programmer Paul Gratton and festival director Shauna Hardy Mishaw featuring strong Canadian features and documentaries, American indies and a lot of networking events designed to make the most out of the five day event.

But we're here for the movies. This year's festivities kick off tonight with the world premiere screening of CAS & DYLAN, which is directed by Jason Priestly and starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Malsany; those familiar to Whistler may remember Malsany won the coveted Borsos Competition acting award last year for her outstanding lead performance in the film PICTURE DAY, which I chose as my favorite movie that year. Closing the festival on Sunday night is Oscar nominated Lucy Walker's documentary THE CRASH REEL which is now on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature.

Inbetween these galas are approximately 90 features, short programs, filmmaker competitions. There is something for every film buff here. On the Canadian front, the annual Borsos Competition is a selection of six films that will each compete for a $15,000 prize. Along with the opening film CAS & DYLAN, the Quebec hit LOUIS CYR, the visually powerful PATCH TOWN, the Native-Canadian feature UVANGA all compete with two movies screened at this year's Toronto International Film Festival, SIDDARTH by Richie Mehta and THE HUSBAND by Canadian filmmaking legend Bruce McDonald. The Canadian film madness doesn't stop there, however, with world premieres of Michelle Ouellet's thirty-something comedy AFTER PARTY, the Vancouver east-side drama DOWN HERE, Don McKellar's excellent English language remake of SEDUCING DOCTOR LEWIS, which was another big hit at TIFF as well as GABRIELLE which is Canada's submission for the Best Foreign Language Film at next year's Oscars.

A few great American indies including BEST MAN DOWN and SxSW entry THE WAIT are also screening here. There are also late night shows of SAVAGED, Stephen Sommer's horror film ODD THOMAS and one of my favorites from SxSW this year, E.L. Katz's insane CHEAP THRILLS which will not soon be forgotten. This is just a small sample of the awesome looking lineup.

Added to the madness this year are guests such as Richard Dreyfuss, Melissa Leo, Ali Liebert, Emily Hampshire and many attending filmmakers, industry and press who will be in attendance at a lot of shows. There are also special screenings of festival favorites PRISONERS by Denis Villenenvue, DALLAS BUYERS CLUB by Jean Marc-Vallee (featuring a performance by Matthew McConaughey that is beyond amazing) and THE DEVIL'S KNOT by Atom Egoyan. All three filmmakers have had success at Whistler Film Festival in the past and it's nice to see their major studio efforts are honoured here this year. If you find yourself wanting to take a break from the movies, there are also many panels, the annual Celebrity Ski Challenge and Variety's 10 Screenwriters to Watch presentation. All in all, a busy time and much fun will be had.

Check back on over the next few days for some interviews and photos from yours truly while on the ground at Whistler. Also by the end of the festival I will be posting my top picks and events of the festival on the site. If you're attending the festivities, I can usually be found at Zog's Dogs inbetween screenings. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more immediate updates!

For more information on Whistler Film Festival, films screening in competition and information on screening times and events, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 12/05/13 03:04:52
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