Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has announced the full lineup for its 23rd edition taking place in-person from November 29 to December 3, 2023 in Whistler, BC, with online screenings available from December 4 to 17, 2023.

Selected from over 1,900 submissions, the lineup includes 97 films curated into 12 program strands. There are 35 features and 62 shorts from 14 countries, including award-season contenders, new breakthrough Canadian features, adrenaline pumping mountain adventure films, and previously unseen projects from around the globe.

The festival is also excited to support new and evolving talent with five films by first-time feature directors, including AMERICAN FICTION, the feature debut as writer/director of acclaimed writer Cord Jefferson, and WEAK LAYERS the first feature from Mountain Culture favourite Katie Burrell, as well as 26 short films by first time directors. WFF is known for championing gender equity and this year’s lineup proudly includes 19 feature films and 25 short films by women and women-identifying directors (54% for Features and 40% for Shorts).

What’s Queer 

THIS TIME, directed by Robert Vaughn, is a film about the power of connection. When a teen inherits her deceased father’s journal, she discovers cryptic clues uncovering his secret life. Now, to fulfill his dying wish, she must blackmail an alcoholic hearse driver to race her cross-country to attempt a long-shot rendezvous with her father’s friend: Liza Minnelli. 

Set on the beautiful Nova Scotia coast, HAILEY ROSE, directed by Sandi Somers, is a contemporary family comedy about love in all its expressions. After years of successfully avoiding her family, newly-unemployed Hailey gets a frantic call from her sister with news compelling her to return to their east coast hometown—only to discover a stunning surprise waiting for her. This film was developed through the WFF19 Producers Lab.

QUEEN OF MY DREAMS makes its British Columbia premiere at WFF23. In the directorial debut of Fawzia Mirza, the film traces the emotional journey that follows after a Pakistani-Canadian woman comes out as a lesbian to her family.  

SOLO, directed by Sophie Dupuis, will also have its Whistler premiere during the festival. The film follows a talented drag artist as they deal with the disappointment of two impossible loves, a passionate but destructive crush and a cold, distant relationship with their mother. SOLO was voted Best Canadian feature at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this year.

Canadian Premiere of MAY DECEMBER directed by Todd Haynes (who’s film CAROL won the WFF AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FEATURE FILM in 2015), starring Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore


The Graceless Age – The Ballad of John Murry is the story of American singer-songwriter John Murry who was on the cusp of greatness after the release of his highly acclaimed album The Graceless Age (2013) when his world fell apart. Addicted to heroin, creatively exhausted, he washed up on the shores of Ireland a broken man.Now, he is ready to retrace his steps back to Mississippi into the dark heart of American life and face his demons – a difficult childhood, traumatic assault and resulting years of opioid addiction. 

This documentary follows John as he embarks on a road trip that takes him from his haven on the cliffs of County Clare, Ireland to his native Mississippi. The film culminates with John travelling to Toronto to rekindle his creative collaboration with Canadian music legend Mike Timmins, who produced his album A Short History of Decay. Mike helps John express himself the best way he can – through his outstanding music. This beautiful documentary charts his journey from near death to redemption and a new zest for life and art.

WFF’s opening night will kick things off with the Canadian Premiere of Netflix’s MAESTRO, written, produced, directed by and starring Bradley Cooper, and starring Carey Mulligan. A towering and fearless love story, Maestro chronicles the lifelong relationship between Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre Cohn Bernstein. This will be Cooper’s second directorial role, in which he also takes the lead as Leonard Bernstein.

In ROJEK, Canada’s official selection for best international feature film for next year’s Oscars®, director Zaynê Akyol encounters members of the Islamic State and their wives, from all over the world, detained in prison camps in Syria. The film is an attempt to understand their fundamentalist beliefs while recounting the rise and fall of the Islamic State (ISIS) through their personal stories.

Other award-contenders include the Western Canadian Premiere of ORIGIN, Ava DuVernay’s biopic of Pulitzer Prize winner Isabel Wilkerson. The film follows Isabel’s harrowing journey to write her bestseller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent as she grapples with tremendous personal tragedy. Inserting excerpts of the book through narration, the film explores the unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions.

World Premieres

Canadian filmmaker, photographer, author and public speaker Dianne Whelan makes a ground-breaking appearance at WFF with the World Premiere of her documentary 500 DAYS IN THE WILD. After a six-year journey, Whelan became the first person to travel 24,000 km over land and water on the Trans Canada Trail—the longest trail in the world. The film weaves adventure, personal reflections, stunning wildlife and landscapes to document a unique ecological pilgrimage and journey towards reconciliation.  

Actor Jonas Chernick and director Sean Garrity return to the Whistler Film Festival with their World Premiere of THE BURNING SEASON, a sort of spiritual successor to WFF22 selected THE END OF SEX and MY AWKWARD SEXUAL ADVENTURE, which won the Audience Award at WFF12. The film follows a dangerous and passionate secret affair that takes place over multiple summers. It is a sexy and tragic love story – told backwards

His throat was slit. He was set on fire. Left for dead. Based on the true crime that shocked Canada, ALTONA, the debut feature from the award-winning Affolter Brothers, will leave audiences asking, “can you forgive what you’ll never forget?”

A divorce that ends in murder and a mother who is hellbent on covering for the real killer: SHE TALKS TO STRANGERS directed by Bruce Sweeney ticks all of the boxes of dark comedy, finding humour in the pain of conjugal separation.

ZOE.MP4 Directed by Jeremy Lutter rounds out the WFF World Premieres. 22 year old Zoe’s best-laid plans are suddenly upended when she is abducted by a suburban single mom named Alina, who also happens to be an altruistic serial killer.

Whistler Film Festival takes place in-person from November 29 to December 3, 2023 in Whistler, BC, with online screenings available across Canada from December 4 to 17, 2023.


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.