Canadian Filmmakers at Whistler
by Staff Editors
(November 14, 2023 – Toronto, ON) The 23rd annual Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has announced its full lineup. Founded in 2001 and renowned as “Canada’s coolest film festival,” WFF has become one of the Canadian film industry’s liveliest gatherings and one of Whistler’s signature cultural events. The festival will be taking place in-person from November 29 to December 3, 2023 in Whistler, BC, with online screenings available from December 4 to 17.
Among some of the festival’s biggest highlights—which includes 35 features and 62 shorts from 14 countries, from Oscar contenders to new breakthrough features—is a strong emphasis on Canadian voices. There is also a notable cohort of 53% majority female directors showing at WFF this year, an all-time high for the festival.
Rebecca Snow’s first narrative film, starring Christopher Heyerdahl and British actor Richard Armitage, The Boy in the Woods (still image above), is a remarkable, true-life Holocaust survival story set during the Polish deportation of 1943. Based on the wartime novel “The Boy in the Woods: A True Story of Survival During the Second World War” by Maxwell Smart, the feature was shot in North Bay, Ontario and tells the story of Max (Jett Klyne), a Jewish boy hiding in the forests of Nazi-occupied Eastern Europe during WWII. Max is an aspiring artist who escapes death when his selfless mother tells him to run away from the Nazi trucks which they are about to board. He befriends a farmer, Jasko (Armitage), and his family, who take him in. But with mounting pressure from the police and fear for his own family’s life, Jasko is forced to turn Max away.
An interest bit of family news, Rebecca Snow’s husband, Robert Budreau, is also showing a sneak peek of his film Queen of the Bones at the festival, marking the first time a husband and wife pair will both be screening films at WFF.
Actor Jonas Chernick and director Sean Garrity return to WFF with their World Premiere of The Burning Season (still image above), 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.
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.
Take a trip to 2045 where global environmental devastation has left humans scattered in a world where oxygen is scarce and trust is uncommon. Finality of Dusk is co-written and directed by Madison Thomas. Katarina Ziervogel, who is Deaf, co-wrote the intersectional script which features Indigenous and Deaf performers. Both are WFF Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship Program alumni.
Jazz-lovers take note! The new 4K restoration of the 1985 Canadian Oscar winner for Best Documentary, Artie Shaw: Time is All You’ve Got, will be screening at WFF this year. Directed by Brigitte Berman, the film is a classic biography, cataloging the life and music of the band leader and clarinetist, Artie Shaw.
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.
In She Talks to Strangers, director Bruce Sweeney ticks all of the boxes of dark comedy, finding humour in the pain of conjugal separation in telling the story of a divorce that ends in murder and a mother who is hellbent on covering for the real killer. The film makes its World Premiere at WFF23 and is a contender for the Borsos Competition, named for the late, renowned director Phillip Borsos.
WFF has a longstanding commitment to amplifying Canadian voices and talent, including with its Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature and highly competitive talent programs such as the Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship.
Click here for a link to the Whistler Film Festival on our December Film Festivals page.