EXCLUSIVE: Whistler film festival unveils first titles for 21st edition

Six Canadian films will world premiere at the festival alongside a special theatrical presentation of Jane Campion's The Power of the Dog.

A  special presentation of Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (pictured) and world premieres from Luc Picard and Carl Bessai are among the first titles announced for Whistler Film Festival’s 21st edition.

This year’s festival, which runs from Dec. 1 to 31, will include a lineup of up to 40 feature films and six short film programmes. Once again the festival will opt for a hybrid model, with in-person screenings taking place during the first five days and virtual screenings available via the WFF platform.

The in-person festival will include films available exclusively in-theatre, conversations with film talent as part of a Signature Series event, as well as in-person panels, workshops and networking opportunities for its industry Content Summit, taking place from Dec. 1 to 10.

The Content Summit will also include online components with one-on-one virtual market meetings and virtual programming. Other online components include filmmakers Q&As and a virtual awards celebration.

Netflix drama The Power of the Dog, directed by Campion and starring Benedict Cumberbatch, will have its Whistler theatrical premiere at the festival as a special presentation.

The first of the festival’s world premiere films are five Canadian features and one Canadian copro. The scripted world premieres include Evelyne (Raven West Films), directed and produced by B.C. filmmaker Bessai, whose feature In Her City was selected for WFF in 2020. Evelyne stars Zimbabwean-Canadian actress Rumbie Muzofa as a woman who emigrated from Africa and is taken in by a kind caretaker.

Confessions of a Hitman (Christal Films Productions), directed by Quebec actor Luc Picard, who also stars in the film. It tells the true story of a paid assassin in Quebec who killed 28 people on behalf of biker gangs over the course of 25 years while also working as an informant for the police.

Altar Boy, the feature-length directorial debut of Toronto’s Serville Poblete, who produced the film alongside writer and star Mark Bacolcol. It tells the story of a Filipino-Canadian teen who runs into a number of obstacles while trying to date his crush, including petty crime and an overbearing mother.

Inès (Les productions du moment) is directed by Quebec filmmaker Renée Beaulieu and stars Roy Dupuis as a sexually abusive father who tries to keep his daughter under his control as she attempts to break free.

The lineup includes Canadian documentary The Secret Society, directed by Edmonton’s Rebecca Campbell and produced by Frederick Kroetsch and Bonnie Thompson. The feature is part of a lineup of documentaries at WFF that feature women’s issues and shines a spotlight on the legal challenges women struggling with infertility can face when trying to find an egg donor.

The sixth feature is Canada/Malta copro Carmen (Aiken Heart Films/Falkun Films), directed by Valerie Buhagiar. The film is set in 1980s Malta and follows a 50-year-old woman who has started over and finds herself listening to confessions at the local church.

The five Canadian films are eligible for WFF’s Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature, which includes a $15,000 cash prize, sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada B.C., and a $20,000 production prize, sponsored by Company 3.

Image courtesy of Netflix