Saturday, February 24, 2007

2006 Whistler Film Festival: Secret Life Wins

You may ask yourself: so what's all the fuss about a 4-day film festival, on the road to Squamish, 2 hours from Vancouver, nestled in the crisp, high altitude of mountainous Whistler, BC?

The fact is, both Vancouver and Whistler are prepping for the 2010 Olympics with corporate sponsors lining up to get their foot in the door, 3 years ahead of the winter games.

Couple that with director Norman "Rollerball" Jewison touting the Whistler Film Festival as the Canadian version of Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, and you have the makings of an important film industry event.

Saturday night parties at this year's WFF officially kicked off with the 'UBCP High Performance Cocktail Party'. Invite-only guests were whisked away to a Blueberry Hill estate for a wine reception attended by BC film performers and Union of British Columbia Performers' staff, toasting shared accomplishments in another banner year for Canadian film performers.

Later that evening, over at Whistler Village's the Garibaldi Lift Co., the delegate action picked up at the traditional WFF 'Festival' party, while masses of people jammed cheek-to-cheek for the DGC-BC District 'Anniversary' party at the Bearfoot Bistro, including beautiful actress/producer Kristanna "Painkiller Jane" Loken, promoting her newest film "Lime Salted Love" and showing interest in a developing feature called "Ladies First", currently with Vancouver's Cinevu Films.

After hours, Russell Brewing provided hospitality for celebrity guests of HNR/Sneak Peek at both the Sundial Boutique Hotel and ResortQuest Whistler 'Valhalla'.

During a Sunday morning buffet brunch at the Westin Hotel, a packed ballroom celebrated "The Secret Life of Happy People" by Stéphane Lapointe, winner of the $15,000 Borsos Competition for Best New Canadian Feature Film, presented by the Directors Guild of Canada - BC District Council and supported by Telefilm Canada.

The jury, comprised of director Jewison, actress Lisa "Water" Ray, and Anagram Pictures' Andrew "Fido" Currie, chose the film from a field of six finalists.

Cash awards for Best Actor and Best Actress, Borsos Competition, presented by the Union of BC Performers (UBCP) were awarded to Andrew W. Walker for "Steel Toes" and Catherine de Lean for "The Secret Life of Happy People".

The $2500 film grant award for Best Cinematographer, Borsos Competition, presented by Kodak Canada was awarded to John Ainslie for "SK8 Life".

The $5,000 Best Documentary Award presented by CBC Newsworld was awarded to "Air Guitar Nation", directed by Alexandra Lipsitz.

The Best Mountain Culture Film Award went to "Let It Ride!" by Jacques Russo, presented by Whistler Blackcomb, recognizing a film that celebrates mountain experiences, mountain places and mountain people.

The cash award for Best Short Film presented by Movieola - The Short Film Channel was awarded to "Love Seat" by Kris Elgstrand.

The festival and Citytv jointly announced that "Oppenheimer Park", by Adam Higgs won the theme-based BC screenwriters' Short Scripts competition presented by Citytv's 'CineCity: Vancouver's Stories'.

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