Lights, Camera, Avalanche: Whistler Film Festival

Lights, Camera, Avalanche: Whistler Film Festival

LEFT: Another day in the office. RIGHT:Avalanche forecaster Kevin Fogolin. Photos:Switchback Entertainment

Explosions, a helicopter crash, tense moments where life and death hang in the balance…

These are not scenes from the latest Hollywood blockbuster movie. Instead they come from SNOWMAN, the first feature-length documentary from Whistler ski icon and filmmaker Mike Douglas.

SNOWMAN features Douglas’ childhood friend Kevin Fogolin, an avalanche expert who follows his dreams into the mountains only to have everything snatched away in an instant when the helicopter full of explosives he is flying in crashes into the Coast Mountains. SNOWMAN will see its world premiere at the closing gala of the 2014 Whistler Film Festival.

“Premiering the film here is a perfect mix for us,” Douglas says of the three-year project. “We want to show our film to the community that has supported us for so long but we also want to show that Whistler folks are able to produce content that is bigger than just skiing or mountain biking.”

Celebrating its 14th year, the Whistler Film Festival has always looked well beyond the “biking and skiing” genres while also growing into one of the world’s preeminent champions of Canadian-made films. This year festival-goers can look forward to 87 films from 18 countries with an astonishing 22 world premieres.

“It’s cool to see the Whistler Film Festival gain cred in the mainstream film world,” says Douglas, who has screened short films at the fest before. “It’s really impressive what (festival co-founder) Shauna Hardy and her team have been able to do in a relatively short period of time.”

The opening gala of the 2014 fest features the Western Canadian Premiere of The Imitation Game, a WWII thriller starring Benedict Cumberbacht as an Englishman trying to break the Nazi’s Engima Code. The fest also features Late Night, Family and World Documentary programs as well as the 11th Annual Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature, which sees six Canadian films vying for over $30,000 in cash and prizing.

For Douglas, closing out his hometown festival with a mountain culture documentary that transcends the genre is a dream come true. “I think people have always had a fascination with extreme enviroments and lifestyles—even if they have no desire to do those sorts of things. One of the interesting things in SNOWMAN is the main characters are very ordinary people who happen to have extraordinary jobs. I’m hoping the audience will relate to them and the choices they’ve made. I hope the film sparks a discussion about the choices we make early in life and where those choices lead us.”

Douglas says this film has been the biggest job of his life but the local support and excitement has been phenomenal. “The film was made in this area and all the post production was done by people in Whistler and Vancouver,” he says. “And we had huge support here in our Kickstarter campaign, a Whistler Film Festival premiere just made sense.”

Mike Douglas and the SNOWMAN poster.Photos:Switchback Entertainment

The Whistler Film Festival runs December 3-7, 2014 and SNOWMAN plays at the Closing Gala Sunday December 7, 2014. Doors are at 7 pm. Get more info, accommodation deals and lift tickets (cause early season skiing is killer) at Whistler.com

Feet Banks

Feet Banks

Feet Banks moved to Whistler at age 12 so his parents could live the dream and ski as much as possible. He ended up living it too. After leaving home Feet did a few good stints in warmer climates and 4 years of writing school before returning to the mountains to make ski movies, hammer out a journalism career and avoid the 9-5 lifestyle as long as possible. He’s been a hay farmer, a hole digger, a magazine editor and has a jump named after him on Blackcomb Mountain, Feet’s Air. It’s tiny.

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