×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Whistler Film Festival: Canadian Content Meets Kudos Contenders

Awards season syncs with emerging talents

The Whistler Film Festival, which dubs itself as Canada’s “coolest” film fest, may have just gotten a shade cooler. In time for its 15-year anniversary, the event has landed the Canadian premiere of Oscar hopeful “Carol” for opening night, Dec. 2.

Since industry vet Paul Gratton took the reins as the fest’s director of programming in June 2012, there’s been a snowball effect. That year, Whistler opened with Michael McGowan’s “Still Mine,” followed by Jason Priestley’s directorial debut, “Cas & Dylan,” starring Richard Dreyfuss and Tatiana Maslany.

The next year, Gratton scored a coup with the Western Canada premiere of “The Imitation Game.”

This year, “Carol” ups the ante once more. The period pic, directed by Todd Haynes, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, is toplined by Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara.

“You can see the progression and you can see how the distributors are beginning to see the value of Whistler,” Gratton says. He adds that the fest’s timing, which is strategic in its proximity to awards season and a key point in film release schedules, is not inconsequential.

His vision for the future: “More and more of that.”

Among this year’s selections: eight features directed by women; the Canadian premiere of Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut, “The Legend of Barney Thomson”; Chet Baker biopic “Born to Be Blue” (pictured) with Ethan Hawke; Brian Helgeland’s “Legend”; “Trumbo” with Bryan Cranston; Patricia Sims’ William Shatner-narrated doc,“When Elephants Were Young”; and the world premiere of Frank Henenlotter’s first non-genre film, “Chasing Banksy.” Canadian thriller “Numb,” will close fest on Dec. 6.

Gratton wants Whistler to become a mini-Sundance for Canadian films, which account for about half the selections.

“I love that model of having the big American movies draw attention to a showcase where Canadian movies can shine,” he says.

As the festival has grown, it has been attracting more distributors and sales agents to the white peaks of the Canadian Rockies.

Expected industry guests this year include Voltage’s Nicolas Chartier, Radiant Films’ Mimi Steinbauer, Cineplex’s Michael Kennedy, Shoreline’s Morris Ruskin, along with other execs from the likes of Elevation Pictures, Mongrel Media, Shomi and Vimeo.

After 15 years, Whistler has become about more than just skiing. It means business.

More Scene

  • Jordan Peele'Us' film premiere, Arrivals, New

    Jordan Peele Explains the Meaning Behind the 'Us' Michael Jackson Reference

    Jordan Peele’s horror movie “Us” is filled with pop culture references, from “Jaws” to “Goonies.” But the most divisive might be right in his opening sequence. Warning, minor spoilers ahead. The movie about a couple (played by Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke) and their children being hunted and brutalized by a mysterious family that looks just [...]

  • Danielle Brooks'Ain't Too Proud - The

    How 'Orange Is the New Black' Star Danielle Brooks Became a Broadway Producer

    Danielle Brooks earned a Tony nomination when she made her Broadway debut as Sofia in the 2015 revival of “The Color Purple,” but now the “Orange Is the New Black” star is working behind the scenes as a producer on the new jukebox musical “Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of the Temptations.” “I [...]

  • Nick Offerman Amy Poehler

    'Parks and Recreation' Cast Talks Possibility of a Revival at 10th Anniversary Reunion

    For one night, Hollywood felt a little like Pawnee. The cast of NBC’s hit comedy “Parks and Recreation” reunited at PaleyFest on Thursday in honor of the show’s 10th anniversary. The whole Pawnee gang showed up: Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt, Aubrey Plaza, Nick Offerman, Aziz Ansari, Rob Lowe, Adam Scott, Rashida Jones, Retta, and Jim [...]

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. The footage featured pieces of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content