Of the 41 features screening at this year’s Whistler Film Festival, 11 are world premieres, setting a significant precedent for the sprocket opera as it enters its 14th year.
Though the event does not have an official market, programmer Paul Gratton says all the films that came to Whistler last year without distributors, secured Canadian distribution soon after being showcased at the fest.
“I think that kind of good news travels fast,” Gratton says.
“Afterparty” was among the films picked up last year, receiving multiple offers from distributors before going with Mongrel.
“We chose WFF for our world premiere because the festival itself sets indie filmmakers up for success,” says Ali Liebert of “Afterparty” producer Sociable Films.
This year’s WFF screenings include several Oscar contenders. The Dec. 3 opening gala is “The Imitation Game,” with Benedict Cumberbatch as code-breaker Alan Turing. J.C. Chandor’s “A Most Violent Year” and Stephen Hawking biopic “The Theory of Everything” are also screening.
“I see film festivals like marriages or relationships — they are either growing, stagnating or slowly falling apart,” says Gratton with a laugh, “and I have to say that for the three years I’ve been at Whistler, the festival has continued to grow and seems to be taking on its own direction and characteristics.”
Whistler Film Festival select events
WFF’s Industry Summit, Dec. 4-6
China Canada Gateway for Film Script Competition, Dec. 4
Celebrity Challenge Ski Race, 10 a.m.-noon Dec. 6
Variety’s 10 Screenwriters to Watch ceremony, 3 p.m. Dec. 6,
Awards Brunch, 10 a.m. Dec. 7
Closing gala screening, “Snowman,” 8 p.m. Dec. 7