Whistler, B.C. – The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) has announced five Western Canadian actors selected for its 7th annual Stars to Watch program presented by UBCP/ACTRA. This year’s Stars to Watch finalists include Elyse Levesque as Danielle and Ali Skovbye in the role of Jeanne, both in the National Festival VOD Premiere of THE CORRUPTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE directed by WFF alumnus Jeremy Torrie; Paul Grenier in the role of Cody Kidd and Miika Whiskeyjack in the role of Precious Crow-Eyes in the World Premiere of INDIAN ROAD TRIP directed by WFF alumnus A.W. Hopkins; and Melanie Rose Wilson as Madonna Croft in the World Premiere of ALL-IN MADONNA directed by WFF alumnus Arnold Lim.
Each film will be available to stream online for a national audience within Canada from its premiere date until December 31 with THE CORRUPTION OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE premiering on December 7, ALL-IN MADONNA premiering on December 9, and INDIAN ROAD TRIP premiering on December 15.
WFF’s Stars to Watch program is a multi-day festival and industry immersion experience during WFF for selected UBCP/ACTRA member actors poised for international recognition who have features premiering at the festival. It is part of WFF’s ongoing commitment to promote Canadian cinema and talent on the world stage, and draws on homegrown talent from the four Western Provinces, with a specific focus on British Columbia, to put them into the bright spotlight provided by the annual December festival.
“Our 2020 Stars to Watch are an outstanding group of talented actors with roots in Western Canada who bring a depth and range of characters to life on screen. Each of the five actors are on a trajectory for international success, and we look forward to celebrating them and their films online at the Whistler Film Festival,” said Angela Heck, WFF’s Managing Director.
“Festivals like the Whistler Film Festival are a vital part of the entertainment industry’s infrastructure and UBCP/ACTRA is proud to support the festival as it reinvents itself to thrive in the context of the pandemic,” said Keith Martin Gordey, President UBCP/ACTRA, Vice President ACTRA. “The festival’s Stars to Watch program highlights the emerging talent from our Western Canadian and BC pool of world-class talent.”
New for 2020, the actors will receive professional development sessions that include one-to-one meetings with directors, agents and managers pre-festival as well as small group sessions with industry leaders attending the festival. The actors will also participate in a virtual hosted conversation as part of the Festival and Content Summit, and a virtual Red Carpet and hosted Q&As with their respective film teams on film premiere dates. The five Stars to Watch will be honoured in an online conversation on December 16 at 4pm PST hosted by Riley Chow, Contributing Editor at Gold Derby, and will be presented with a recognition award at WFF’s annual Awards Celebration taking place online on December 20 at 12pm PST.
WFF’s Stars to Watch is one of the festival’s nine talent programs providing creative and business immersion experiences for 56 Canadian artists this year – including screenwriters, directors, producers, and actors. Programs also include the Producers Lab, Screenwriters Lab, Indigenous Filmmaker Fellowship, Power Pitch Competition, Doc Lab and Women in Focus Mentorship. These opportunities are specifically designed to provide business immersion and creative opportunities for emerging and mid-career Canadian screen content creators and their projects. WFF also collaborates with several industry organizations by hosting specific third party initiatives including the Women in the Director’s Chair Industry Immersion, Women in Film & Television Film Market Preparation Mentorship, and the MPPIA Short Film Award Pitch with the Motion Picture Production Industry Association and Creative BC, which is on hold for 2020.
From December 1 to 20, WFF will deliver its 20th anniversary edition featuring a hybrid of online and in-theatre offerings. Festival attendees can look forward to 89 fresh films, including 32 features and 57 shorts curated in ten programs, selected from over 1,350 submissions. 30 features and up to 51 shorts will be available to national audiences online from December 1 to 31. Some restrictions apply in Quebec on a film by film basis. In-theatre screenings are planned from December 3 to 6 in Whistler, and December 4 to 6 in Vancouver. To ensure a safe viewing experience, provincial health and safety protocols are in place at both theatres and capacities are limited. All online films will be available to watch through the holiday season until December 31, providing an opportunity to purchase a unique film festival gift package for film buffs across the country. In addition, to support filmmakers challenged by these unprecedented times, WFF has pledged to share net online proceeds on a 50/50 basis directly with the filmmakers or Canadian rights holders.
Film highlights include previously unseen projects with over two-thirds of the feature offerings representing World, North American and Canadian premieres. Films in competition will compete for 16 film awards and $38,500 in cash and prizes from juries composed of leading cinematic talent. ‘Canada’s coolest film fest’ continues to support emerging, diverse and domestic talent with the inclusion of 18 first-time feature films, 13 feature films directed by women, and 71% of the program premiering Canadian content – more than any other Canadian film festival this year. 17 of WFF’s 32 feature films are either World or Canadian premieres. Programming strands this year include Canadian Vanguard, Doc Bloc, Films From Away, Mountain Culture, New Voices, Special Presentations and ShortWork.
Beyond the film-on-demand experience, WFF celebrates films and filmmakers through engaging, interactive talent talks as part of its Signature Series. To mark its 20th anniversary, WFF will also welcome back 20 celebrated filmmakers and actors who are WFF Alumni and will also feature three online special events, including the Spark Gala & Auction, Whistler Après and Awards Celebration.
WFF’s Content Summit returns with filmmaker and talent talks, and unique industry initiatives over the three week period, featuring more than 36 interactive sessions and meetings, and welcoming established industry leaders and content creators to its virtual mountain home to discover, network, and explore the ideas and actions shaping media entertainment.
The Festival’s online box office is now open at whistlerfilmfestival.com/
The Whistler Film Festival is funded by the Government of Canada through Telefilm Canada, and by the Province of British Columbia and the Resort Municipality of Whistler through the Resort Municipality Initiative, is sponsored by Creative BC, Cineplex, Netflix, Variety, William F. White International, Tourism Whistler, and RE/MAX Sea to Sky Real Estate. Discover more at whistlerfilmfestival.com.