Whistler Film Festival goes virtual across the country – online December 1 to 31, 2020
With a particular emphasis on Canadian content creators and distinct and emerging new voices, the Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has announced the full film lineup for its 20th anniversary edition with a hybrid of online and in-theatre offerings. Festival-goers can look forward to 89 new films, including 32 features and 57 shorts curated in ten programs, available to national audiences online from December 1 to 31, 2020.
WFF’s online festival debuts with the World Premiere of SUGAR DADDY, written by and starring Kelly McCormack and directed by Wendy Morgan. SUGAR DADDY is an eye-opening look at an aspiring musician who agrees to provide dinner companionship to older men for money. Colm Feore co-stars in this tour-de-force showcase for McCormack.
BUZZ PICKS – our top recommendations
Canadian flick about a young offender sent to medium security prison, who then gets tangled up with the usual good guy/bad guy within, disrupting his chances at early parole.
A very raw and real look at the opioid crisis happening in Vancouver’s east side neighbourhood, a crisis that is spreading rapidly across the country.
BONUS SOCIAL COMMENTARY PICK – Small Time about the opioid crisis sweeping America, as seen through the eyes of a child.
Two half-sisters flee from their parents who are seeking to divide the family upon their separation. Abduction, a deceased parent, an estranged hitchhiker, and a random dildo all add to the intrigue of this dream sequence.
Excellent Canadian film takes a look at teen angst, growing up, dealing with family, and coping through it all as best one can.
Unconventional love story between two outsiders, one a loner just looking for a friend, and the other, a drug using hustler trying to get her life back on track.
BONUS CANCON BUZZ PICKS – Still The Water about three brothers from Prince Edward Island, and Little Orphans about three sisters from Newfoundland.
See below for a snapshot look at what else is playing this year….
This year, 15 Canadian films will contend for the five coveted Borsos Competition awards. Titles up for consideration include the World Premieres of AN INTROVERT’S GUIDE TO HIGH SCHOOL directed by Sophie Harvey, a comedic look at how high school pressures affect less outgoing students; IN HER CITY directed by Carl Bessai; INDIAN ROAD TRIP directed by A.W. Hopkins, a humorous First Nations road trip with scams, hidden loot and all kinds of funny hijinks; MERCY directed by Sam Flamont, about life in a medium-security prison after the shooting of a wounded deer; SUGAR DADDY directed by Wendy Morgan starring and written by Kelly McCormack; and ALL-IN MADONNA directed by Arnold Lim about a young woman learning that her Dad may be a murderer.
National Festival VOD Premieres in the Borsos Competition include Ruth Lawrence’s LITTLE ORPHANS, about three sisters reuniting in Newfoundland for a wedding; Joshua Demers’ QUEBÉXIT, a brilliant political satire about a confrontation between the Canadian Army and a newly formed Quebec army following a surprise declaration of Quebec sovereignty; and THE CORRUPTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE directed by WFF alumnus Jeremy Torrie, a haunting story of a young Metis girl who develops stigmata and the religious fanatics who try to make her their own.
English Canadian premieres in the Borsos Competition include WFF18 alumnus Sophie Dupuis with UNDERGROUND (SOUTERRAIN), an exciting mining disaster movie; Eric Tessier’s YOU WILL REMEMBER ME (TU TE SOUVIENDRAS DE MOI), featuring a career-best performance by beloved Quebec actor Remy Girard as a former professor dealing with Alzheimer’s; Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s GODDESS OF THE FIREFLIES (LA DÉESSE DES MOUCHES À FEU); a disturbing coming-of-age story that will have you worrying about your teenage daughter; Étienne Galloy and Christophe Levac’s THE MARINA (LA MARINA), about wakeboarding and romance during a summer job at a marina; the Canadian premiere of Virginia Abramovich’s BETWEEN WAVES (Canada), an alternate universe romance shot in the Azores; and the Western Canadian premiere of Susan Rodgers’ STILL THE WATER, about a hard-scrabble family visit to PEI, a world of lobster fishing and hockey.
An especially exciting line-up of five documentaries will be shown online this year. Titles include two World Premieres, THE DECLINE, a film about East Vancouver’s growing fentanyl problem directed by Sean Patrick Shaul and Kayvon Saremi; and PAPERMAN (LAFORTUNE SUR PAPIER), an affectionate look at Quebec’s own version of Mr. Rogers, Claude Lafortune, directed by journalist Tanya Lapointe. Canadian Premieres include Julien Temple’s definitive biodoc of Shane MacGowan and The Pogues entitled CROCK OF GOLD and the amazingly breathtaking nature documentary OVERLAND by Elizabeth Haviland James and Revere La Noue about people who train birds of prey, shot on four continents. Finally, dog lovers will not want to miss STRAY, directed by Elizabeth Lo in Istanbul, winner of the Hot Docs International Film Award this year, but shown on a national festival VOD basis for the first time at WFF.
The Films From Away strand includes some of the most topical films this year, torn from today’s headlines, all being shown in Canada for the first time. AMERICAN THIEF is an exciting thriller about cyber hacking of the 2016 Presidential election that deals with Black Lives Matter issues and police brutality, directed by Miguel Silveira. A SHOT THROUGH THE WALL, directed by Aimee Long, deals with a Chinese American cop who accidentally shoots a black youth leading to protests about systemic racism within the police force. SMALL TIME by Niav Conty is a beautifully shot coming of age story of lost innocence set in the devastated narco-rural areas of America, SMALL TOWN WISCONSIN, directed by Niels Mueller, tells of how alcoholism affects a loving father-son relationship.
The British film HOW TO STOP A RECURRING DREAM by Edward Morris features a breakout performance by a British actress of colour Ruby Baker. Add to this lineup the World Premiere of the haunting Canada/Colombia/SanSalvador co-production THE WHISPER OF SILENCE, which deals with coffee bean growing and toxic masculinity, directed by Alfonso Quijada, and you have a stellar line-up of debate-worthy films shot outside of Canada. Two exceptional non-Canadian films will be presented in theatre only this year. NINE DAYS directed by Edson Oda, which took the Sundance Festival by storm, tells the story of unborn souls being interviewed for a chance to have a life on earth. THE LAST VERMEER, directed by Dan Friedkin, tells the true post-WWII story of a Dutch art dealer accused of selling a priceless Vermeer painting to the nazis, and the exciting court case that ensued, with Guy Pearce and Claes Bang.
WFF’s Special Presentations feature some of the strongest titles in this year’s festival. The Canadian/Irish co-production of DEATH OF A LADIES’ MAN features Gabriel Byrne losing his mind to the music of Leonard Cohen, directed by Matt Bissonnette. MARLENE tells the true-life story of Stephen Truscott’s wife who spent her life seeking to legally exonerate her husband for a rape/murder he did not commit, directed with passion by Wendy Hill-Tout. PUPPY LOVE, featuring Hopper Penn, Paz de la Huerta and Rosanna Arquette, directed by Michael Maxxis tells the story of an unusual romance between an autistic young virgin and the drug-using street hooker he falls in love with. EAT WHEATIES, directed by Scott Abramovich features Arrested Development’s Tony Hale as a socially awkward man who obsesses over inviting a celebrity to his college reunion with unexpectedly comic results.
Beyond the film-on-demand experience, WFF will celebrate as many films as possible through engaging, interactive online conversations with the filmmakers and their top talent as part of its Signature Series. To mark its 20th anniversary, WFF will also welcome back 20 celebrated filmmakers and actors who are WFF Alumni and will also feature three online special events, including the Spark Gala & Auction, Whistler Après and Awards Celebration.
WFF’s Content Summit returns with filmmaker and talent talks, and unique industry initiatives over the three week period, featuring more than 36 interactive sessions and meetings, and welcoming established industry leaders and content creators to its virtual mountain home to discover, network, and explore the ideas and actions shaping media entertainment.
Whistler Film Festival – Dec 1 to 20, 2020. Tickets
About the Author
Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.
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