February 21, 2024

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The Whistler Film Festival (December 2-6) is committed to supporting the voices of Aboriginal Canadian artists, and has confirmed the six filmmakers to participate in its third consecutive Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship.

New for 2015, WFF’s Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship has expanded into a three-day creative and business immersion experience to be held from December 3 to 5 during the Whistler Film Festival + Summit, and opened up nationally for up to six emerging Aboriginal Canadian film artists with short film, webisode projects or television pilots.

Designed to advance Canadian Aboriginal talent, this program focuses on strengthening and advancing short script projects by facilitating feedback from a group of mentor filmmakers who are successful, well-respected members of the Canadian film community.

“WFF’s Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship is an important opportunity for emerging Aboriginal filmmakers with short form content looking to establish themselves in the industry,” says WFF’s industry programming manager, Angie Nolan.

“The insights gained in the Fellowship help to grow and support the next generation of Aboriginal filmmakers [and provide a] launch pad for these unique and important voices in the landscape of Canadian storytelling.”

The six Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship finalists include:

  • Allan Hopkins (BC) with Indian Road Trip, which explores two unruly young men who are asked to drive a village elder from one side of the reserve to the other, with a supernatural force thwarting them.
  • Paul Swiderski (SK) with Killing the Dead, which follows two friends as they kill frozen zombies in a winter wonderland on the Canadian prairies.
  • Phoebe Sutherland (ON) with Rez Dog Team, a true story that follows the journey of unwanted dogs who form a dog team to embark on a journey of connection.
  • Roxanne Whitebean (QC) with The Paradigm, a dramatic horror about a woman’s journey to find refuge from hauntings by insidious cannibalistic beings. This project was awarded the APTN Drama Pitch Prize at the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival.
  • JJ Neepin (MB) [also an NSI Aboriginal Documentary grad] with The Quiet Corner, which follows a family trying to start a new life in France when the law comes knocking.
  • Mary Galloway (BC) with Unintentional Mother, which follows an Aboriginal girl who must choose between running from her abusive father or staying as a devoted nanny.

N. Bird Runningwater, Sundance Institute’s Native American and Indigenous Film Program Director, is the program facilitator and lead mentor. He said, “The Whistler Film Festival and this program are a valuable opportunity for First Nations filmmakers to present their work to a prestigious international audience and for aspiring filmmakers to learn in a dynamic environment. Short films are an important communication and storytelling tool and I look forward to helping these fellows share their voices with new audiences.”

Program mentors include: Jim Compton (MB), artistic director at the Adam Beach Film Institute; actor Lorne Cardinal (BC); director Monique Hurteau (BC); writer and producer Laura Milliken (ON); and Shereen Jerrett (MB), a writer and facilitator at the National Screen Institute.

Other industry experts participating in the program include Valerie Creighton (ON) president and CEO, Canadian Media Fund; producer Elizabeth Yake (BC); Monika Ille (QC); executive director of programming and scheduling at APTV; and Tania Koenig-Gauchier (BC), manager of programming – Western Region at APTN.

Days 1 and 2 of the Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship will focus on individual and project-specific feedback through a series of one-on-one sessions with four mentors as well as group sessions in order to strengthen their projects.

Feedback will include everything from where to take your script, to the changes the project may require in order to move it to the next level, as well as finding the film’s audience once it’s made.

The facilitator will provide high level strategic advice and counsel to the filmmakers over the course of the Fellowship helping them to address feedback from industry mentors.

On day 3 the participants will attend WFF’s industry summit where they will gain first-hand insight into the world of narrative, short-form storytelling through a full day of panel discussions, pitches, networking and screenings with filmmakers and industry experts including the MPPIA Short Film Pitch and the ShortWork Showcase screening and reception.

Participants will also have access to festival screenings and the WFF’s industry summit from December 3 to 6.

WFF’s Aboriginal Filmmaker Fellowship is sponsored by the Canadian Media Fund, Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Creative BC, National Screen Institute and the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre.

2015 marks the 15th anniversary of ‘Canada’s coolest film festival’ and ‘Whistler’s Best Arts & Cultural Event.’

Featuring innovative and original films from around the world and opportunities to connect with the people who made them, this year’s Whistler Film Festival (December 2 to 6) will be filled with a solid lineup of premieres, honoured guests, lively celebrations and unique industry initiatives. Find out more at whistlerfilmfestival.com.

WFF’s full lineup and film schedule will be available online on November 4. The festival’s online box office is now open for industry passes, VIP insider passes and ticket packages that allow you to select your films in advance and share them with friends and family.

New for 2015, WFF has introduced a festival credential that provides access to the Music Café, ShortWork Showdown and Festival Lodge, and is included in select ticket packages if purchased by November 30.

Individual film and special event tickets go on sale online on November 4 (until December 6). The festival box office opens November 4 for phone sales (1-877-838-FILM) and on November 27 for walk-up sales (located in front of the Whistler Conference Centre).

Air travel and ground transportation deals as well as best accommodation rates starting from $109 per night are now available. The Westin Whistler Resort and Spa is WFF’s official host hotel. WFF has 20 accommodation partners to choose from that offer special rates to Whistler Film Festival attendees. Book your accommodation early to ensure your perfect match and price. For information, go to whistlerfilmfestival.com.

The Whistler Film Festival + Summit are supported by the Government of Canada through Western Economic Diversification and Telefilm Canada, the Province of British Columbia, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, Tourism Whistler, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation and the American Friends of Whistler, and is sponsored by Variety, Cineplex, Creative BC, The Harold Greenburg Fund, Encore, Pandora, L’Oreal, Columbia, Sorel, Whistler Blackcomb, Gibbons Life, and the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler.

The Whistler Film Festival Society (WFFS) is a cultural charitable organization dedicated to advancing the art of film by providing programs that focus on the discovery, development and promotion of talent culminating with a must attend festival for artists, the industry and audiences in Whistler. WFFS produces one of Canada’s leading film festivals and industry summits, and plays a leadership role in offering project development programs for Canadian artists. Find out more at whistlerfilmfestival.com.

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About The Author

MUSKRAT Magazine

MUSKRAT is an on-line Indigenous arts, culture magazine that honours the connection between humans and our traditional ecological knowledge by exhibiting original works and critical commentary. MUSKRAT embraces both rural and urban settings and uses media arts, the Internet, and wireless technology to investigate and disseminate traditional knowledges in ways that inspire their reclamation.

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