WFF ’18: Bruce McDonald, Natty Zavitz features land world premieres

The festival's 18th edition includes a record 46% of projects directed or co-directed by women.
wff-2018 - CLAIRE'S HAT - Poster [677757]

Whistler Film Festival on Thursday (Nov. 1) put the finishing touches on its 2018 lineup, adding world-premiere screenings of Bruce McDonald’s Claire’s Hat (pictured) and Natty Zavitz’s Acquainted.

McDonald’s film, which documents what went wrong during the shooting of his 2001 feature Picture Claire, and Zavitz’s sophomore feature, starring Playback 5 to Watch alum Giacomo Gianniotti, will compete alongside 18 other Canadian projects in the Borsos Competition.

Previously announced world premieres in the section include Rama Rau’s Honey Bee, Carolyn Combs’ Bella Ciao!, Shelagh Carter’s Into Invisible Light, Maja Zdanowski’s In God I Trust, Jesse Zigelstein’s Nose to Tail, Shane Belcourt’s Red Rover and Jon Silverberg’s Woodland.

Also added to the lineup Thursday was Sébastien Pilote’s The Fireflies Are Gone, which won the best Canadian feature prize at this year’s TIFF, and Sophie Dupuis’ Canada’s foreign-language Oscar pick Chien de garde (“Watchdog”), both of which will make their Western Canadian premieres. Previously announced Western Canadian premieres include Deanne Foley’s An Audience of Chairs, Kristina Wagenbauer’s Sashinka, Geneviève Dulude-De Celles’ A Colony, Roz Owen’s Trouble in the Garden, Renée Beaulieu’s Les Salopes, or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin and Darlene Naponse’s Falls Around Her.

Also added to the Borsos program is Robert Budreau’s bank-heist thriller Stockholm, starring Ethan Hawke and Noomi Rapace. The Canada/Sweden corpo is making its Canadian premiere.

The festival on Thursday unveiled a roster of 85 films (50 features, 35 shorts), with a record 46% of those directed or co-directed by women or non-binary individuals. “I want to emphasize: it’s not tokenism,” director of programming Paul Gratton told attendees at a Toronto luncheon ahead of the 18th annual edition of the festival. As well, a typically high 69% of the features are Canadian, with Gratton adding he feels the quality of this year’s Canadian submissions was the best ever.

On the international front, Josie Rourke’s Mary Queen of Scots (U.S), starring Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, will open the festival, and surf doc Momentum Generation, from Jeff and Michael Zimbalist, will serve as the closing-night film.

Award-season contenders including Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, Barry Jenkins’ If Beale Street Could Talk, Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate and Mimi Leder’s On the Basis of Sex also join the 2018 lineup.

Meanwhile, the Doc Bloc section sees the world premiere of Canadian filmmaker Sean Patrick Shaul’s F*** You All: The Uwe Boll Story and the Canadian premiere of Brigitte Berman’s Hugh Hefner’s After Dark: Speaking Out In America, which bowed at Telluride. Other Canadian features screening in the Doc Bloc are Jaren Hayman’s This is North Preston and Roy Tighe’s Never Be Done: The Richard Glen Lett Story, as well as a pair of U.S. docs: Brian Bellinkoff’s Psychonautics: A Comic’s Exploration Of Psychedelics and Tom Donahue’s This Changes Everything.

In the shorts category there are world premieres for six Canadian projects: Nima Gholamipour’s Losing Spoons, Veronika Kurz’s 20 Minutes to Life, Ayden Ross’ How Long, Caid Dow’s I See Stars, Robert Moberg’s Way of the Hunter and Lilen Aimare’s Fantasmagoria. Other Canadian shorts screening include Brendan Brady’s Keep Coming Back, Steve Adams and Sean Horlor’s The Day Don Died, Ariane Louis-Seize’s Little Waves, Shannon Kholi’s Hunting Season, Chelsea Xinyi Chen’s I Will Keep Your Light, Derek Langer’s The Garage, Odessa Shuquaya’s Cedar Tree of Life, Meryam Joobeur’s Brotherhood and Kama Sood’s The Bus Stop.

This year’s festival runs from Nov. 28 to Dec. 2.