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Whistler Film Festival. Bright Lights

With over 80 films screening at the 13th annual Whistler Film Festival, plus a packed schedule of sweet galas and parties, it can get tricky figuring out exactly which movies to watch. Fortunately, there are no wrong answers because returning Director of Programming Paul Gratton has selected an incredibly diverse and satisfying field of movies for Whistler this December 4-8, 2013.

Paul watched hundreds of films while curating the program and we got him to narrow it down even more by giving us his Top Five Must-See Films of Whistler Film Festival 2013.


10:00 PM Thursday December 5, 2013 at the Whistler Village 8 Cinemas.
12:45 PM Saturday December 7, 2013 at the Whistler Village 8 Cinema.

Paul says,
“Sturla Gunnarsson is an acclaimed Canadian director with Icelandic roots and he seems to have a particular affinity for shooting in the snow, which is something not a lot of Hollywood-based directors might have. This is a genre film, more of a mainstream feel—imaging Universal Soldier set in Northern Ontario. It’s got a great cast and a ski-doo chase scene! I thought having a world premier Sci-Fi thriller would be a great way to kick off the Late Night series this year.”

The Crash Reel

Closing Gala – 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM Sunday December 8, 2013 at the Rainbow Theatre

Paul says,
“This is just a great documentary. I was completely engrossed. There’s lots of halfpipe action but then Kevin Pearce suffers an injury and everything changes. Through the use of home video and the cooperation of his family it transcends the sports genre and becomes a film about accepting limitations and about the love of family. To close out the festival I look for a film that’s appropriate for our beautiful setting here and with this one, you can’t help but feel respect for what the mountains can do. The director Lucy Walker will be here too. She’s been twice nominated for Oscars and it wouldn’t surprise me if this was her third time in the running.”

Filthy Gorgeous: The Bob Guccione Story

7:00 PM Friday December 6, 2013 at the Rainbow Theatre (with Caligula)

Paul says,“Director Barry Avrich has been doing documentaries on powerful media moguls and this one is on Guccione, who we don’t really know much about. We have an image of him as an open shirted, gold-chain wearing publisher of Penthouse but actually he let women run that empire while he pursued other interests like painting and space exploration. He started Omni magazine, he tried to build a hotel in Atlantic City, and he had the aspiration to make the greatest XXX film of all time. He spent $16 million in 1970 and ended up with the folly that was Caligula. It’s a curio in the history of film and there’s never been anything like it so we are dusting it off and screening Caligula right after Filthy Gorgeous. It’s a bit like a car accident, overblown and kind of incoherent, but how many XXX movies can boast Malcolm McDowell, Peter O’Toole and Helen Mirren in the cast? It’s fun to throw in a nod to film history, even if it’s a traffic, accident it’s fun.”

Meth Head

9:30 PM Saturday December 7, 2013 a Millennium Place

Paul says,“This indie film was submitted on DVD and after watching it I thought: this is the performance of a lifetime for Lukas Haas. I knew he was good but this is incredible. Lukas plays a middle-class yuppie who happens to be gay and is out partying when he gets offered some crystal meth. He tries it and takes to it like a fish to water and the film chronicles his descent into addiction hell. It’s interesting to see the rationalizations and justifications. Often meth or crack smokers are depicted as lowlifes beyond redemption but what I liked about this is he is a middle-class guy, a yuppie. He has friends and a family, he has support and my response was that this film shows that every drug addict is someone’s son or daughter or brother or loved one and you can’t forget the humanity as you look at the incredible suffering these people put them through because of the sickness. This performance is so strong; I hope a distributor will pick this film up.”


Jingle Bell Rocks!

9:15 PM Thursday December 5, 2013 at Millennium Place
9:45 PM Friday December 6, 2013 at Rainbow Theatre

Paul says,“Every so often I come across a documentary I can only describe as pure delight. This one is about the filmmaker, Mitchell Kezin, acknowledging that he has OCD and has collected obscure Christmas albums from a young age. He used to hate Christmas songs but then he found a B-Side of an old Nat King Cole song about the boy Santa forgot. Young Mitchell realized Christmas music isn’t all religious-or-santa-themed and it can be about serious subject matter and his life’s mission became to buy and collect the most obscure Christmas songs he could find. Then the internet arrived and he learned there are other people just like him. What’s delightful is the filmmaker shares a dozen of his favourite songs— there is a Vietnam Christmas song in there and the others are all way off the beaten track and some are very catchy. I figured Christmas is coming and we have snow in the Village – what a perfect documentary to get seasonally appropriate with. It’s a Canadian film too and we are always here to promote Canadians.”

The 13th annual Whistler Film Festival takes place December 4-8 2013 and you can get accommodation, lift tickets and more information at See you in the theatre!


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.