41 features and 45 short films are heading to the 2022 Whistler Film Festival (WFF). The festival announced the line-up today for this year’s edition, which includes just over a dozen feature documentaries. WFF offers the world premiere of Offside: The Harold Ballard Story, directed by Canadian actor Jason Priestley. The film is a portrait of the controversial curmudgeon who owned the Toronto Maple Leafs and their home at Maple Leaf Gardens (now a Loblaws) and is a love-letter to Canada’s game. Hockey also takes the ice in Robbie Hart’s Ice-Breaker about the 1972 Canada-Soviet Union summit games.
The doc front at Whistler features two films from Australian director Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa) with her big screening study of rocky peaks, Mountain, and the Western Canadian premiere River, which examines the relationship between humans and bodies of water. Willem Dafoe narrates both films. The Whistler Doc Bloc also features Ryan Bruce Levy’s portrait of queer wrestlers in Out in the Ring. The film won Best Canadian Feature at Toronto’s Inside Out LGBTQ Film Festival earlier this year.
Sports and Music Docs
Joining Out in the Ring on the sports front are two films by Thierry Donard: Reset and Human Extreme. The former, which makes its Canadian premiere at Whistler, looks at young adventurers, while the latter nabs the festival’s closing night slot with the world premiere of Donard’s study of extreme athletes pursuing their passions as the environment on which they rely changes amid the global climate crisis. Stories of the extreme side of mountain life fuel Know Before You Go, directed by Mike Quigley. The doc features cautionary tales about learning the lay of the land while mountaineering.
Meanwhile, music docs turn up the amp at Whistler with Ron Chapman’s Revival ’69: The Concert that Rocked the World. The backstage music doc transports audiences back to an iconic event that included John Lennon’s first post-Beatles appearance and Alice Cooper’s encounter with an ill-fated chicken. Helping audiences get on their feet will be Buffy Sainte-Marie: Carry It On, directed by Madison Thomas. The film celebrates the Oscar winning singer, songwriter, artist, and activist.
Festival favourite All the Beauty and the Bloodshed continues its run with the B.C. premiere of the Golden Lion winner. Directed by Laura Poitras, the film about photographer Nan Goldin and her fighter against the Sackler family of Big Pharma infamy is a timely study of the relationship between art and activism.
Ten dramatic films, meanwhile, will vie for the Borsos Competition for Best Canadian Feature: The 12 Tasks of Imelda, directed by Martin Villeneuve; Adult Adoption, directed by Karen Knox; Broken Angel, directed by Jules Koostachin; Colourblind, directed by Mostafa Keshvari; Coyote, directed by Katherine Jerkovic; Diaspora, directed by deco dawson; The End of Sex, directed by Sean Garrity; Exile, directed by Jason James; Lissa’s Trip, directed by Jeffrey Lando; Midnight at the Paradise, directed by Vanessa Matsui; Niagara, directed by Guillaume Lambert; Polaris, directed by Kirsten Carthew; Rodeo, directed by Joelle Desjardins Paquette; Soft-Spoken Weepy Cult Child, directed by Irina Lord. No documentaries appear in the Canadian competition.
Other highlights at Whistler include the opening night selection of Noah Baumbach’s drama White Noise. The film previously opened the Venice Film Festival. Meanwhile, Whistler nabs the Canadian festival premieres of Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths. Iñárritu won back-to-back Best Director Oscars for Birdman and The Revenant, while del Toro won for The Shape of Water.
This year’s Whistler Film Festival runs in-person November 30 to December 4 with select online screenings streaming December 5 to January 2.