As we wind down the 15th anniversary Whistler Film Festival, we proudly acknowledge the 89 films, 10 events, 30 interactive industry sessions that were part of our celebration, and the 450 filmmaker and industry guests who graced us with their presence. Connections were forged and deals were done, and the press coverage for Whistler was prolific with stories featured around the world. We are delighted to announce that total attendance for this year’s fest was 13,233 attendees representing an 18 per cent increase over 2014.
In five action-packed days, we honoured Kiefer Sutherland, Robert Carlyle and Bruce Greenwood and had Mary Walsh deliver the keynote to remember. We celebrated our four Rising Stars — Lauren Lee Smith, Jakob Davies, Taylor Russell and Rustin Gresiuk — who all had films premiering in the fest and have promising careers ahead. Forty two Canadian artists, including producers, directors, writers and musicians, participated in our seven project development programs. We even held the L’Oreal Men Expert Bobsled Race and WFF Celebrity Challenge Ski Race in between films. And we awarded $158,500 in cash prizes and commissions. Congratulations to all of our award winners and especially to Jamie Daag’s River, which won three of our five Borsos Awards for Best Canadian Feature, and to Todd Haynes’ Carol, which won our Pandora Audience Award and is sweeping the awards season race so far.
WFF has had many friends that have been with us over the years — thank you to our supporters, donors, sponsors, resort and government partners. In particular we would like to acknowledge the Province of British Columbia, Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the American Friends of Whistler, Tourism Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb as well as our 20 Whistler accommodation partners including our host hotel the Westin Whistler, 15 hospitality partners and all of our Whistler friends who have provided support along the way.
None of our achievements are possible without your commitment.
Anniversaries provide us the opportunity to reflect on what has been achieved. In just 15 years, we have built a solid reputation for a “little festival that could.” We can say with our hands on our hearts with our 15th edition behind us that the Whistler Film Festival has come of age. We continue to value those who make the films we screen; the industry that has championed us from our humble beginnings; and our volunteers who give their time and energy. These volunteers include our current board of directors and those who preceded them over the past 15 years. Their contribution is immeasurable and we are grateful for their efforts on our behalf. We are very proud to be associated with the 90-plus dedicated, hardworking and professional people on our team as well as the hundreds before that are a part of the spirit and fabric of WFF. Above all else, we thank our audience!
As the world changes how films are seen and made and Whistler continues to form its cultural journey, our hope is that the Whistler Film Festival continues to be a place where we celebrate the moving image and artists of our time, while fostering new opportunities. Looking forward, we have plans to enhance our programs for Canadian talent and our international presence, all of which of course depend on the support we can attract.
But we cannot do it without YOU! We invite you and need you to step into our story. As a charitable cultural organization, WFF relies on the generous philanthropic and corporate contributions of people like you who share our commitment to nurturing new artists, supporting unique and diverse creative voices, furthering the reach of independent films around the world, and putting Whistler and British Columbia on the map as an essential destination for the art and business of film.
Here’s to 15 years of inspiring and celebrating stories that matter! We hope that #ILOVEWHISTLER FILMFESTIVAL has become your mantra. Thank you again for your support, Whistler! Happy holidays and best wishes for 2016 from your friends at WFF!
Shauna Hardy Mishaw,
Director of programming