Fest expected to play role in 2010 Winter Olympics

VANCOUVER — Bolstered by six world preems, strong support from the resort community and the participation of digital heavies such as Microsoft and Apple, organizers said the 3-year-old Whistler Film Festival will break even this year.

The fest, which wrapped Sunday, received a promise of future support from Canada’s culture ministry, co-founder Shauna Hardy told Daily Variety. Whistler is the site of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, and the fest is expected to play a major role in the buildup.

“Whistler is like Sundance in its early days,” said producer Neal Miller, whose comedy feature “Raising Flagg,” starring Alan Arkin and Glenne Headly, was one of five world preems shot and projected digitally at the fest. “The buzz is this is the last, best place where filmmakers can gather and mingle without all the hype.”

The other digitally shot preems were “Stealing Cambodia,” “In the Shadow of the Chief,” “Baghdad or Bust” and “The Vanishing Tattoo.”

“Most Xtreme Primate,” the latest in Keystone Entertainment’s chimpanzee-starring kid pics, was the only preem that shot on 35mm film.

More than 40 features and shorts were screened in four days at two venues at the fest, 90 minutes north of Vancouver. Eight industry-oriented workshops focused on digital production, attracting about 200 professionals and students. Sponsors included Digital Film Group, William H. White Intl. and British Columbia Film.

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