Whistler film fest branches out

The upcoming 10th anniversary of the Whistler Film Festival will be its biggest yet, with an additional day added on to the festivities.

‘Moving from four to five days will allow us to increase the number of films and have repeat screenings,’ says Shauna Hardy Mishaw, cofounder and executive director of the Whistler Film Festival Society.

Over 80 films from around the world will be screened at the B.C. fest, running Dec. 1-5, while even bigger expansion plans are in the works as Whistler heads into its tenth year.

‘We have a track record, we have had some critical success and we’ve helped facilitate $50 million in deals,’ says Hardy Mishaw. ‘It’s time to take it to the next level. We want to be one of the top film festivals in the world and an epicenter for advanced training for professionals in screen based media,’ she explains.

To make this a reality, the Whistler society launched a $5 million Future in Focus Campaign last year to raise money to build a permanent home for the festival; increase its year-round programming offerings; and build international awareness of the festival.

The first pivotal part of the expansion plan is to spend $2.5 million to transform the defunct Rainbow Theatre (the town’s original movie house) into a digitally advanced 300-seat theatre with improved sound and projection technology.

The goal is to turn the theatre into one of the first DCI 2K (Digital Cinema Interface) compliant facilities in Western Canada. It will also include a 1,000 square foot festival lounge.

‘The festival theatre will become the permanent home for the Whistler Film Festival and Industry Forum, as well our year round programming,’ explains Hardy Mishaw.

Meanwhile, another $2.5 million of the campaign funds will be used to enhance the festival’s programming and raise its worldwide profile.

Hardy Mishaw says WFF is at the halfway mark towards reaching their fundraising goal. The festival has until 2012 to raise the money, which will come from a combination of government grants, private donors and corporate sponsors.

The Whistler Film Festival annually attracts over 11,000 audience members and over 500 industry delegates. It awards $45,000 in cash prizes.