Canada’s coolest film festival, the Whistler Film Festival, is bringing movies back to the mountains to close out 2022. The 22nd edition of the festival, which kicks off with in-person screenings at Canada’s premiere ski resort November 30 to December 4 (and online beginning December 5), once again welcomes high-profile international films, ground-breaking Canadian cinema, award-season favourites, exciting short films and, of course, excited film lovers. This year’s impressive slate will prove a treat for eager audiences, with 41 features and 45 shorts from 19 different countries.
Nothing beats the shared collective experience of watching a film in a theatre surrounded by hundreds of fans, and this year, those making the trip to Whistler will be delighted by the festival programming, which includes a host of compelling stories from a wide swath of diverse creators.
“With a particular emphasis on Canadian content creators and distinct and emerging voices, Whistler Film Festival continues to fill a valuable niche within the film festival ecosystem,” Whistler Film Festival’s Executive Director, Angela Heck tells That Shelf.
“WFF has evolved into a premium showcase for exciting new motion pictures not previously shown at other film festivals. With our strongest lineup ever of Canadian gems, coveted international festival titles, and an inspiring selection of award-hopefuls, our 22nd edition hums with the energy and creativity that result when new voices mix with established filmmakers in one of the most awe-inspiring settings for a film festival.”
The festival kicks things off on November 30 with Noah Baumbach’s White Noise. The satire sees the prolific director re-team with his Marriage Story star Adam Driver and partner and muse Greta Gerwig, along with co-stars Don Cheadle, Jodie Turner-Smith. Based on a story by Don DeLillo and featuring a score by Danny Elfman and music by LCD Soundsystem, White Noise has been building buzz since its premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
There is plenty of Canadian cinema to take in as part of the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature. Highlights include the world premiere of BC-set thriller Exile, which stars Adam Beach as an ex-con living a reclusive life in order to protect his family from retaliation, the drama Colorblind about a single Black mother and her son who both suffer from colour-blindness while existing in a world that only sees the colour of their skin, and Broken Angel, the story of a Cree woman running from an abusive partner while dealing with unwelcome spiritual visions.
Canadians are also known for their top-quality coming-of-age stories and this year, Soft-Spoken Weepy Cult Child is the one not to miss. It tells the story of 16-year-old Hope as she navigates a uniquely complex life that includes a grandmother dying of cancer and a mother who is part of a tantric sex religious cult.
Other must-see films include the documentary Out In The Ring, which looks at the history of queer identity in professional wrestling, the relationship story Midnight At The Paradise with Liane Balaban and Allan Hawco, the hilarious boy band parody Boy City, and the road trip romp Niagara.
But perhaps one of the most unique Whistler entries this year is the female-led sci-fi tale Polaris. Described as “Mad Max on skidoos”, the Yukon-filmed story follows 10-year-old Sumi (Viva Lee), a female warrior raised by a polar bear in an arctic dystopian future. Filled with stunts and visceral action, Polaris previously played to raves at Montreal’s Fantasia Festival and the Sydney Science Fiction Film Festival where Lee won Best Actress and the film took home the Audience Choice Award.
Another high-profile Canadian festival premiere is Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. While audiences will be most familiar with Disney’s 1940 animated take on the adventures of the wooden boy puppet, del Toro’s inspiration comes from its literary origin which – in true del Toro fashion – is much darker. Featuring the voices of Ewan McGregor, Finn Wolfhard, Ron Perlman and Cate Blanchett, this is one fairy tale story that you won’t want to pass up the chance to see on the big screen.
There are also several festival favourites making their way to Whistler. This includes TIFF hits Alice, Darling, starring Anna Kendrick as a woman dealing with deep-seated relationship trauma, Baby Ruby starring Portrait Of A Lady On Fire’s Noemie Merlant as a young mother suffering from post-partum psychosis, and the marriage comedy The End Of Sex, which reunites My Awkward Sexual Adventure’s Jonas Chernik and Emily Hampshire. That Shelf’s own Courtney Small called it “a sharp and refreshing comedy” and “the perfect date night flick” making it one of the best picks for a cozy laugh at Whistler.
Going for more laughs is the Knives Out whodunit ensemble sequel Glass Onion. Daniel Craig returns as famed detective Benoit Blanc, who finds himself investigating yet another murder mystery with a cast of quirky characters played by Edward Norton, Kate Hudson, Janelle Monae, Dave Bautista and many more.
On the documentary front, the eye-opening doc Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On comes to Whistler alongside Laura Poitras’ All The Beauty And The Bloodshed, which sent shockwaves around the world when it won Best Picture at the Venice Film Festival over high-profile dramatic features like The Whale and The Banshees of Inisherin. A sure-fire Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Feature, the powerful and effective film follows the life and activism of Nan Goldin and the downfall of the Sackler pharmaceutical family.
Also screening are Canadian festival debuts Gringa, starring Steve Zahn and Judy Greer, and the whimsical indie Little Jar about a woman (Kelsey Gunn) in isolation who discovers the world of friendship thanks to Ulysses, a dead mouse in a jar. You can also catch the Montreal-set family drama Coyote from Katherine Jerkovic, whose Roads in February won TIFF’s Best Canadian First Feature prize in 2018.
For those that can’t make it to Whistler, the festival fun continues with select online screenings available across Canada between December 5 to January 2.
Follow along with That Shelf’s coverage from Whistler on Instagram beginning November 30.