Michael McGowan's 'Still' to open fest

TORONTO – Michael McGowan’s “Still,” starring James Cromwell as a feisty 88-year-old battling bureaucrats while building a house for his ailing wife, will open the 2012 Whistler Film Festival and confab, it was announced Thursday morning along with the full 75-title slate.

The 12th annual mountain resort-set fest and confab will screen 41 features, only eight of which unspooled in Toronto. As new director of programming Paul Gratton said in a statement, this indicates the event is “succeeding in carving out a distinct niche for Whistler amidst the plethora of film festivals that currently dot the media landscape.”

U.S. titles include Dan Mirvish’s “Between Us” and Todd Berger’s “It’s A Disaster” (both of which star Julia Stiles), Bill Guttentag’s “Knife Fight,” Brian Young’s scenically appropriate “The Mountain Runners,” William Krieg’s “Ready to Fly” and Liz Garbus’ docu “Love, Marilyn.”

Closing gala “The Sheepdogs Have At It,” John Barnard’s docu about the Saskatchewan quartet that won Rolling Stone’s Do You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star contest earlier this year, is one of six world preems, all Canuck titles.

The others are Jason Bourque’s docu about a notorious Mumbai ad agency “Bird Co. Media,” David Mortin’s tale of a quixotic prairie adventure “Mad Ship,” Karen Cho’s docu exploring the Canadian feminist movement “Status Quo?” and the director’s cut of Joel Goldberg’s music docu “Bruce Cockburn Pacing the Cage” and David Hicks’ British Columbia-lensed buddy comedy “The Movie Out Here,” which is exec produced by Jeff Sackman and Michael Baker.

Scripted by David Chiavegato and Richard Pryce-Jones, “Movie” stars Canuck comedian Leslie Nielsen’s grand-nephew Robin Nielsen and is possibly the world’s first feature-length branded entertainment (financed by a popular domestic beer and including characters from its long-running ad campaign) to receive a theatrical release. Alliance unleashes pic to Canadian auds in February 2013.

Fest will also screen hot Canuck horror pics “American Mary,” from twin sister helmers Jen and Sylvia Soska, and Rue Morgue publisher-turned filmmaker Rodrigo Gudino’s feature bow “The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh.”

The festival runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 2, 2012, in Whistler, British Columbia.

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