Bucman Coe will perform at the WFF Music Cafe.

It’s called ‘Canada’s coolest film fest’ for a reason — five days of movie magic in the mountains. But, as we’ve come to realize over the last 15 years, the Whistler Film Festival is about so much more than the movies. There’s a depth and a rich substance to the festival beneath the glitz and glamour of the movies. From December 2 to 6 Whistler celebrates the stars, the writers, the music, the world premieres, and the myriad of things that go into making movie magic. If the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) is the granddaddy of North America film festivals, WFF is the irreverent cousin, always up for a party, always ready to be wheeling and dealing and making things happen, always fun.

Here’s a must-do list, beyond the Whistler Film Festival movies, so you don’t miss a thing at this “little” festival that has made a very big name for itself.

Tribute to Kiefer Sutherland

Kiefer Sutherland will be honoured with the WFF 2015 Trailblazer in Acting Award at this year’s festival. The tribute event is an intimate evening and conversation with Sutherland. Afterwards, the WFF will showcase the Western Canadian premiere of Sutherland’s new movie, Forsaken. It’s a classic western drama in which Kiefer stars alongside his father Donald Sutherland. It’s the first time the father/son duo have shared scenes together on the big screen — a performance worth seeing. The tribute to Sutherland will take place on Friday December 4. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Millennium Place. Tickets are $25. Forsaken will show at the Rainbow Theatre at 9 p.m. for $15.

Kiefer Sutherland will be honoured with the WFF 2015 Trailblazer in Acting Award.

Kiefer Sutherland will be honoured with the WFF 2015 Trailblazer in Acting Award. Photo: Whistler Film Festival.

Spotlight on Robert Carlyle

The Whistler Film Festival’s Maverick Award goes to Robert Carlyle this year. There will be a special night that includes an intimate conversation with the Scottish actor. No stranger to the big screen — The Full Monty, Trainspotting, Angela’s Ashes — Carlyle is coming to the festival for his role behind the scenes. The WFF welcomes his feature film The Legend of Barney Thomson in his directorial debut. Whistler will be the North American premiere of the movie, a macabre comedy about a barber from Glasgow, suspected as a gruesome serial killer. The intimate conversation with Carlyle takes place on Saturday December 5. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. at Millennium Place. Tickets are $25. Check out Barney’s antics later that night at The Legend of Barney Thomson at the Rainbow Theatre. Tickets are $15.

The Legend of Barney Thomson is Robert Carlyle's directorial debut.

The Legend of Barney Thomson is Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut. Photo: Whistler Film Festival.

Whistler Film Festival Music Cafe

Just as good movies are set to good music, the WFF has its own original score. It’s called the WFF Music Café and this year it’s bigger than ever as the search continues in the film industry for good music to go along with film. The first evening showcase, at Garfinkel’s on Friday December 4, features five artists: Morning Show, Little India, Derrival, SAVVIE, and Wooden Horsemen. The après showcase on Saturday December 5 features: Find the Others, Alexandra
Staseson, Buckman Coe, Kaylee Johnston and David Morin.

Find the Others feature at the Whistler Film Festival Music Cafe.

Find the Others feature at the Whistler Film Festival Music Cafe. Photo: Whistler Film Festival.

Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch

Movie writers also have their voice at WFF, beyond the words in their screenplays. It’s called the Variety 10 Screenwriters to Watch and this will be its fourth year in Whistler. Screenwriters will share their stories and give you insight into what goes on behind the scenes. Hear from Meg LeFauve who wrote the Disney smash hit Inside Out, or Mike Le, who wrote Patient Zero. There’s a reason these 10 have been chosen as screenwriters to watch. Keep your eye on them here at the afternoon event on Dec. 5.

WFF15 Opening Gala: Carol

Speaking of screenwriters to watch, last year screenwriter Phyllis Nagy was on Variety’s Top Ten list. Flash forward one year later. Nagy’s movie Carol will open the Whistler Film Festival with its Canadian premiere. Nagy adapted Patricia Highsmith’s original novel ‘The Price of Salt’ to retell the forbidden lesbian love story, set in the 1950s, on the big screen. It stars Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara. And it’s already getting Oscar buzz. You can say you saw it first in Whistler. Carol takes place on Wednesday December 2 at 8 p.m. at the Whistler Conference Centre. Tickets for the opening gala are $30.

Shortwork Showcase

While the Oscar buzz-worthy movies like Carol often get the biggest play, there are a lot of hidden gems within this festival too, like the Shortwork Showcase on December 5 featuring a mix of short films. Based on the names alone, this is a must-do at WFF this year. Short films include: How to Carry Big Foot Home, Bacon and God’s Wrath, and Dude, Where’s My Ferret?

More information can be found at www.whisterfilmfestival.com. Discover for yourself the reason why this upstart little festival has survived and thrived for 15 years in the mountains.

If you’d fancy a mountain getaway to bring out your inner film buff, contact our friendly Whistler Concierge services. With insider knowledge, they can plan your perfect ‘movies in the mountains’ experience.

Gibbons Whistler

Gibbons has been celebrating with people since 1979. We operate venues, run festivals, brew beer, talk travel and throw parties.