The following was written exclusively for Miss604.com by Michelle Kim.
The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) seems to always fall at a strange time of year for me. Last year, it preceded a trip to see my ailing 95-year-old grandmother in Seoul (I had to race down the mountain like a madwoman to not miss my flight) and this year, the WFF preceded final exams. So, my apologies to Miss604 and to her beloved readers for not getting this post up sooner (though Iâ€™m happy to say, I think I aced my Korean Modern Fiction exam).
But timing of the festival (right before holiday season), and the compactness of the festival (both terrain-wise and time-wise) is exactly what makes WFF so unique, so intense, and my favourite festivals on the circuit.
The WFF always takes place early December over a four-day-weekend in the heart of Whistler Village, right below Whistler Mountain. Itâ€™s always been an amazing festivalâ€”incredibly tranquil and celebratory, kicking off the Christmas party season. But admittedly, at moments, one couldnâ€™t really tell that a festival was even going on. Attendees often faded into the alpine landscape or got lost among the local skiers and snowboarders as they made their way down and up the mountain again.
But this year was different. Maybe it was because the village was gearing up for the Olympics (through fences, I could see the Olympic/Paralympic park nearing completion), because there was way more anticipation in the air on that mountain this year. Though there were about the same number of films (80 films, including 36 feature and mid-length films and 44 shorts) and about the same number events at The Forum at the Whistler Film Festival (an industry conference that runs in conjunction with the festival) as in previous years, attendance for the ninth annual festival almost doubled.
I donâ€™t know exactly what it was, but there was a spark and intensity at the festival, one that was manifested by line-ups outside Village Cinemas, when Ivan Reitman (WFF held a special tribute to famed director), Kristen Kreuk, and Jennifer Bachiwal (sheâ€™s a personal hero of mine since high school) can be spotted in the same room, or when a swam of beautiful actresses leaving the annual Brightlight Pictures party at Araxi, intimidated and outnumbered snowboarders heckling them.
There was so much going on at any given moment, from the Forum, to the screenings, to the parties, that is was almost heartbreaking to choose one thing over another. But one this was for sure: it was all amazing. And the WFF is officially my favourite festival on the circuit. And itâ€™ll continue to grow while maintaining that close intimate feeling one gets from being huddled together on a mountain.
The Whistler Film Festival takes place in Whistler, British Columbia annually in early December. You can follow them on Twitter (@@WhisFilmFest) for updates year-round.
Michelle Kim is a Vancouver-based novelist and actor. You can read her other posts contributed to Miss604.com here.