Whistler Film Festival '08 wraps up

Four days of movies on the mountain came to an end on Sunday (December 7) as the eighth annual Whistler Film Festival wrapped up with an awards brunch hosted by Terry David Mulligan.

The night before, Mulligan also hosted a tribute to actor Donald Sutherland, the Borsos Competition jury president. The tribute consisted of a retrospective of clips from Sutherland’s extensive and wide-ranging cinematic career, including scenes from Casanova, Klute, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Ordinary People, and Pride & Prejudice. The self-effacing Sutherland told numerous humorous anecdotes about his on-set experiences and kept the audience entertained for his hour-and-a-half session.

When asked what part of him is still Canadian, Sutherland responded by saying that he didn’t think there was a part of him that wasn’t.

The awards ceremony began with speeches from cofounder and executive director Shauna Hardy Mishaw, MLA and minister of state for intergovernmental relations Joan McIntyre, and Whistler mayor Ken Melamed.

$500 awards for best acting went to Clark Johnson for Nurse.Fighter.Boy and Carrine Leduc for 3 Seasons. Leduc accepted her award, but Johnson was not in attendance.

3 Seasons (Quebec) also won the $15,000 Borsos Competition for Best New Canadian Feature Film.

The award was presented by jury members directors Patricia Rozema (I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing) and Sturla Gunnarsson (Air India 182), and Sutherland. Upon accepting the award, director  Jim Donovan called it “the perfect prize” because the project was made with a tight budget and most of the cast and crew devoted their time because they believed in the project.

Marie-Helene Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu’s Before Tomorrow, also from Quebec, earned an honorable mention. Other finalists included The Baby Formula, Girlfriend Experience (by Vancouver director Ileana Puietrobruno), Nurse.Fighter.Boy, and Who is KK Downey?.

Director and producer Mark Achbar (The Corporation; FierceLight, which played at the festival) presented the $5,000 best documentary award to The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins by Pietra Brettkelly (who was not in attendance).

An honorable mention was given to Brett Gaylor’s RiP: A Remix Manifesto, which also won the Cadillac People’s Choice Award. Although the award is not a cash prize, the documentary, about the war between creativity and copyright in our age of the internet and sampling (and featured interviews with mash-up artist Girl Talk), was rescreened on Sunday afternoon in a slot reserved for the winner.

Journey of a Red Fridge by Lucian Muntean and Natasa Stankovic won the $500 best mountain culture award, with an honorable mention going to Wendy Todd and Jason WatkinsThe Way Bobby Sees It.

Denis Villeneuve’s “The Next Floor” won the $1,000 best short film award.

Director and WFF board of directors past president Carl Bessai (Normal) presented the Motion Picture Production Industry Association of BC short film award to writer-director Steven Denault for “The Gray Matter”. The award includes $10,000 cash from the MPPIA, $5,000 cash from British Columbia Film, and up to $10,000 of in-kind production services for the completion of a short film project.

Writer-director Mitch Miyagawa and producer Josh Miller were declared the winners of Pitch Fest West for their proposed film Apologies, which is to be about the numerous apologies Miyagawa’s Japanese-Chinese-aboriginal family has received from the Canadian government. The project won the National Film Board of Canada’s $2,000 development award as well as the Audience Choice Award, which consists of a WFF 2009 industry pass and three-night accommodations.

For more on the films from the Festival, read this blog entry.