Oscar-Worthy Watchin’ at WFF

Oscar-Worthy Watchin’ at WFF

It’s movie time in Whistler from November 29 to December 3 as ‘Canada’s Coolest Film Fest‘ pulls out all the stops with an incredible line-up. There are 87 films (46 features and 41 shorts) from 15 countries, including award season fare, Canadian content, and more female directed films than ever before. So grab your popcorn, as this is going to be one epic movie binge.

Oscar-Worthy Films at WFF

Touted as one of this year’s Best Actor and Picture Oscar front-runners, WFF is set to open with Joe Wright’s Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman and Lily James. Endorsed by Winston Churchill’s estate, the film tells the story of Churchill’s refusal to engage in peace treaty negotiations with Nazi Germany during WWII. England was facing its darkest moments: France had fallen, America had not joined the war, and invasion was imminent. The fate of Western Europe hangs on the newly-appointed British Prime Minister who must decide whether to negotiate with Hitler or fight on against incredible odds. You can catch this film on November 29, as part of the festival’s Opening Gala event. The trailer gives us the tingles…

I, Tonya is based on the unbelievable but true events. It’s the darkly comedic tale of one of the most sensational scandals in sports history. American figure skater Tonya Harding, played by Margot Robbie, was the first American woman to complete a triple axel in competition, but her legacy was forever defined by her association with an infamous, ill-conceived, and even more poorly executed attack on fellow Olympic competitor Nancy Kerrigan. Catch this on December 2, ice, ice baby…

Last Flag Flying has a star-studded crew including Breaking Bad star Bryan Cranston, and funny man Steve Carell. This  American comedy-drama is directed by Richard Linklater with the screenplay by Linklater and Darryl Ponicsan. It’s based on the latter’s 2005 novel of the same name where former Navy Corps medic Larry “Doc” Shepherd (Steve Carell) reunites with ex-Marine Sal Nealon (Bryan Cranston) and Reverend Richard Mueller (Laurence Fishburne) to bury Doc’s son, a young Marine killed in the Iraq War. You can catch this film November 30 and December 1.

Home-Grown Talent

Bookending the festival is Whistler’s very own filmmaker Darcy Hennessey Turenne with her film The Moment, which digs into the history of freeriding. Set in the backwoods of British Columbia this is the story of a small movement of fearless mountain bikers and filmmakers with no money, no sponsors and no rules who rose up and challenged the status quo by turning the previously benign sport of cycling into one of the most dangerous sports ever imagined.
A must-see documentary told through wildly outrageous and rare archival footage, balanced with interviews from some of the most legendary names in Freeride Mountain Biking. A professional mountain biker herself Darcy is known for her storytelling ability as a filmmaker, so we can’t wait to see how her two passions collide in this film premiering at the festival on December 3.

Want to Learn About Filmmaking with Jodi Foster? Here’s how.

WFF is presenting the World Premiere of Becoming Iconic, which delves into the experience and wisdom of superstar directors, Jodie Foster, Adrian Lyne, Taylor Hackford, and John Badham. In this documentary, we follow first-time feature filmmaker Jonathan Baker, who, after years of working in the trenches, finally got to direct his own film, Inconceivable (2017), with a dream cast of Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway. We join him on a quest to “become iconic”, but we don’t have to start from scratch. He’s done the hard part and opened the door to the inner sanctum, giving us access to the stories of some of the best actor-directors of our time.

This impressive group of actors and directors shine a light on the filmmaking journey in an attempt to answer Jonathan’s question – we can learn from the masters, but how do we become one? They candidly share the perils of directing their first feature films, discussing the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality, how they had to cling to their vision with grit determination and attempt to ignore the rampant criticism that comes along with putting a story out into the world.

We had the opportunity to chat with Jonathan about what inspired him to make this documentary, and what he hopes it will give to audiences worldwide.

“I decided to put myself in the documentary because that way I was a peer to the people I was interviewing,” explains Jonathan. “The main storyline are these superstar directors telling us, from different perspectives, how they became iconic by creating something iconic. Alongside this, I have my own storyline of the hell I went through directing Inconceivable. I got to stand next to these superstars and be enlightened by them. I believe that if you touch gold, there’s a piece of gold in you. Once you’ve done something that puts you at an ‘iconic’ level you’ve moved through a ceiling and joined a certain club – but it’s a rough ride to get there and so few make it. This is that story – about respecting the journey, learning from the icons, and taking that knowledge to push yourself through the ceiling and to become iconic.”

This documentary will have particular resonance to the many creators who are coming to Whistler with their first films in tow or to anyone who’s watched a big blockbuster movie and thought, how did they do that? Jonathan believes it also fills a gap for film students who need to be exposed to the business side of filmmaking, how to work with actors, read emotions, and stick to the vision of their story. In short, it’s how to get schooled by people who have walked the walk, and talked the talk and made the box offices billions. You can catch Becoming Iconic on December 1 and December 2 at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

Bundle Up

We haven’t even scratched the surface of what’s on offer at this year’s festival as there’s just so much going on. The ShortWork Showdown and Artist Spotlight Series are part of their events programming, and if you’re ‘industry’ then there are some incredible learning, networking, and pitching opportunities that you should check out.

If you know you’re likely to go to more than five films or go with friends and family then you should look into the six and ten pack ticket bundles to save your dollars! Single films are $16.50, and a bundle of six comes to $82.50 – so you basically get a movie for free. The only problem is which one to choose…

Have fun at the movies!


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