The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) was founded some 14 years ago by Shauna Hardy Mishaw, its current executive director. Over time, WFF emerged as a significant player within the Canadian film fest circuit. Known for its intimate, casual environment, WFF is a major draw for filmmakers and industry leaders alike (this year, industry attendance doubled!).
Mishaw’s loyal and tireless admin team consists largely of women, most of whom have been with the festival for many years, supporting WFF through its ups and downs and setting the stage for film-centric hospitality for which WFF is known. filmmakers and industry honchos mingle, and deals are made not only through scheduled one-on-one meetings, but also in the hot tub or on the ski slopes. Read on…
This year, the festival continued its trending upswing, attracting top talent and 11 world premieres. Paul Gratton, a long-time industry veteran and an undeniable movie lover is WFF’s artistic director, and shows a high degree of awareness of women’s accomplishments in film.
This year was a particularly strong one for women at WFF.
For starters, Kim Cattrall was honored as the first recipient of the festival’s Maverick Award. At her tribute, Cattrall spoke about the role of women in the film industry, the limited roles available for women over 40, and finding empowerment. Cattrall proves to be a convincing spokesperson for change in the industry.
The festival’s Spotlight On, an onstage live interview with an emerging star that’s presented by Elle Canada, was focused on Canadian actress Sarah Gadon.
In addition to the female focus on Cattrall and Gadon, this year’s WFF had several initiatives in place to help further women in film.
The WIDC’s Women In the Director’s Chair Industry Immersion practicum provided eight mid-career women screen directors with the opportunity to further their projects with input from leaders in all aspects of the film industry. Mounting their directorial debut feature films were, from the Northwest Territories, Kirsten Carthew (PROTOTYPE), Manitoba-based Rebecca Gibson (JANE GARBAGE), from Ontario, Renuka Jeyapalan (SEX WITH A PERFECT STRANGER), and Simone Stock (DARK HORSE), BC-based Kate Kroll, (ONE.LAST.STOP), Reem Morsi (LIPS), and Loretta Todd (MONKEY BEACH), and PEI-based, Jenna MacMillan WHO is developing a new web series, (GRAN BANDIT).
“These filmmakers are already established in their own right,” says Carol Whiteman, award-winning WIDC producer. “They have won awards and fellowships, some from our collaborating partners like Women In Film, the St John’s International Women’s Film Festival, and the Whistler Film Festival. We all see the talent that these women possess and the potential of their projects.”
Additionally, Women In Film & TV Vancouver organized the Film Market Preparation Mentorship, giving women directors and producers guidance down the various paths towards getting female-directed films before the eyes of audiences. Women in Film & TV Vancouver also organized a very lively and presented a very well-attended panel discussion and round table themed to women and leadership in the film industry.
For more information on the Whistler Film Festival, visit the festival’s official Website.
Additional reporting: Jennifer Merin