The Whistler Film Festival is over for another year, but my head is still swimming with images of The Hef, vegetarian goblins, artistic imagery from a fashionisto’s directorial debut, and the alpine vistas of Chamonix. An eclectic mix of films – and a few great parties – made for a very entertaining weekend.
Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, a film by Brigitte Berman, examined the lift of “The Hef.” I was pleasantly surprised by the film because all I had known about him prior to watching the documentary is that he wears a silk bathrobe and is always surrounded by women less than half his age. What this documentary taught me is how much of a role Hugh Hefner played in the civil rights movement. He supported black actors, comedians and musicians when they were still discriminated against and provided a voice for human rights activists in his magazine and TV shows. He also published blacklisted writers, who were accused of being communists. Anyone who can date seven girls at a time at the age of 82 is a winner in my books.
Documentary: Best Worst Movie
Switching gears, Best Worst Movie, directed by Matthew Paul Stephenson introduced the audience to the cast of cult B-Grade horror film, Troll 2. Jason Whyte, a writer for efilmcritic.com introduced the film as his favourite documentary of 2009. Stephenson, a child actor who starred in Troll 2, revisited the cast 18 years after the film was released and examined its cult phenomenon. The story unravels into a crazy tale of what happens when you combine an Italian director, a language barrier; a cast of amateur actors; and horror movie enthusiasts. I was pretty much laughing throughout the film and am now so excited to watch the 80s classic: a film about a family that goes on vacation and encounters a colony of vegetarian goblins who try to turn them into trees. You might note that there are no actual trolls in this film.
On Saturday evening, was on a VIP party at the Blake Jorgenson Gallery before heading to the Pique Newsmagazine-sponsored film, A Single Man.
Special Presentation: A Single Man
This highly anticipated film is the directorial debut of Gucci design legend, Tom Ford and is already generating an Oscar buzz. The modelesque characters, beautiful cinematography and truly compelling story are clearly the work of a man with amazing eye for detail and art.
The Dose.ca Official Afterparty at the GLC was the ultimate end to the evening. Ace McKay was there to add a little flare with her Go Go Dancing partner, fishnets and hula hoops. Meanwhile, local DJ Mat the Alien spun his characteristic mash-up house music. The highlight of the evening was definitely Edmonton-based singer, Krystle Dos Santos, whose buttery voice croons out soulful jazz-inspired tunes.
Whistler Film Festival ended on a high note – really high, like Mont Blac, Chamonix high. Sunday’s Closing Gala brought the film Edge of Never directed by William A. Kerig, was an absolutely perfect way to end a weekend of arts and culture by bringing us all back to the awe-inspiring range of rugged peaks that surrounds this mountain town.
Closing Film: Edge of Never
Whistler was founded by people who live their lives on the edge of nature – and occasionally pay for it with their lives. The death of Whistlerite and legendary big-mountain skier, Trevor Petersen in 1996 was a blow to the ski world – and most significantly to his tribe of fellow adventure-seeking mavericks.
The Edge of Never focuses on Petersen’s son, pro skier Kye, who sewed his roots in the park and has, with age, gravitated towards big-mountain skiing like his father. Kerig assembles a motley crew of old school skiers – from badass skier Glen Plake to well-respected French alpinist, Anselme Baud – to groom Kye to ski the very run that killed his father: the Exit Couloir on the Aiguille du Midi on Chamonix.
Chamonix – which, at times has averaged one alpine death per week – is no stranger to danger. Those of us who have never been there ourselves, were absolutely blown away by the vastness of the mountain and the incredibly sketchy off piste access points. Let’s face it – we have it pretty easy here in Whistler. No climbing over steep stone walls and iron ladders to grab our fresh turns.
Edge of Never wasn’t just a film with ski porn; although watching Glen Plake in action was certainly a lot of fun. It told a much deeper story about what drives people to dedicate their lives to the mountain life. And there’s no better place to tell that story from than Chamonix, the heart of alpine culture.