Winona Ryder Ping-Pong Rumors At the 11th Filmmakers Showdown - Dee Raffo
As the five-minute call sounded around the Whistler Conference Centre, by the same woman who does missile launches in James Bond movies, people scurried back to their pre-marked seats like shredders on a pow-day. A veritable who’s who of Whistler notoriety packed out the 11th Filmmakers Showdown, one of the top events at the TELUS World Ski and Snowboard Festival.
Donning a sombrero and followed by a Mariachi band Feet Banks took to the stage, maracas and mic in hand. Doing his best Antonio Banderas impression he welcomed everyone and introduced the show in Spanish. Just as people started to shoot each other anxious glances he switched back to his usual Canadian English, the relief was palpable – they did not want to miss a word.
This event sold out in eleven days, although there a few held back for on the day squabbles. They had over 30 entries, which were narrowed down to just 10 for the finals aired last night at the showdown. $10,000 was up for grabs, as well as an additional $5000 if the winning team shot with an Olympus camera – silly not to really. The mystery prop, that has to appear in every film entry, was a “made in china” Styrofoam airplane. Five judges had the daunting task of choosing a winner, and the crowd was armed with a ping pong ball to make their “People’s Choice” vote.
Harley Francis was the first up to the stage, a second time finisher he casually dropped the f-bomb when introducing his latest entry “Instacam”. A complex plot suggesting systematic annihilation, with scenes of inter-vegetation relations giving it a funny edge, while a sinister sleeper agent did his dirty work. What a way to kick-start the night.
No one wanted to be “Skip’s friend” in Whistler’s very own Bollywood production by Rebecca Wood Barrett and Lisa Fernandez. Their entry “Rush” certainly got the laughs as ski ballet made a comeback on the big screen. Skip endearingly wants to train in ski ballet after hitting the kickers in the park just doesn’t do it for him anymore. In the meantime his family forms an intervention against his new headband-wearing hobby.
Stepping up the sophistication, Mark O’Krafka presented “Zero”, inspired by the mandatory prop it was the tale of a little airplane trying to find his way home. Whilst filming they lost half a day of shooting when they lost the original plane in the river and bought more only to realize they were all the wrong colour. With Japanese sub-titles giving it international flair (although the plane was made in China) it had a very cinematic feel to it using the stunning backdrop of Squamish to its advantage.
First timer from LA, Andrew Putschoegl, introduced his film “Ladybeast” which had people roaring with laughter. Reminiscent of the character from Summer Heights High with a touch of Twilight thrown in for good measure, the camera follows a blonde “beast” through the woods only for her to emerge and seduce a local ski bum. Just as he falls in love after their first kiss she retreats back to the forest – “No one can tame the ladybeast”.
“Draw Something” by the dynamic duo, Pete Thompson and Pete Whitaker, was very clever. A hung-over looking red headed dude draws a carton of milk on the memo board on the fridge only to discover whatever he draws is delivered. Then ensues a montage of crazy antics around Whistler village with a bit more dancing thrown into the mix.
9 Lives Adventures aimed to draw awareness to the fact that they believe that disability is not a state of body, but a state of mind. Their video by Joel Caros, shows quadriplegic, Matt Thola, ripping up the slopes in his sit-ski as well as ruling at the skate park. A thought-provoking piece about friendship, understanding, and changing social stereotypes.
The best-dressed crew of the evening, from Vancouver, Gilbert Giacomini took to the stage to introduce their film “Something That Needs Attention”. This was the evenings first true love story – a hard sell in Whistler, commented Feet Banks. This beautiful and poignant entry saw a girl and boy in the forest playing with the prop airplane, however he heads off to meet another young lady and is caught in the act. The girl leaves a broken airplane, which he attempts to fix but to no avail. It brought a tear to the eyes of the audience (ok, maybe that was only me).
Five-time finalist and two-time champion Jonny Fleet took to the stage to introduce their film “Jonny Meets Jonny”. When asked why he keeps coming back he said, “I keep coming back to this room because it’s the best room in the world – besides my bedroom that is.” Offending Aussie girls left right and centre it focused on Jonny who, even when equipped with a time machine, could not manage to stay away from the alluring Aussie “girl” at the end of the night who repeatedly gives him crabs.
We refer to Whistler as “the bubble”, and this is the theme that filmmaker, Adam Teolis, decided to run with in “Just One Season”. After completing one winter at Whistler the protagonist tries to move on only to find he’s trapped inside the bubble – sound familiar? Hilarity ensues.
As the evening drew to a close first times Jonathan Peterson and Chad Hamilton ended the night with “Good Times”. A documentary exploring the interesting lifestyle of GTing that they commented was going to “blow our minds”, and that it did. Leaving the audience with a cliff-hanger ending, literally, this was a great wrap up to an already extraordinary evening.
The judges awarded “Zero” best in sound and best overall, with the team walking away with the $15,000 in prize money. “Rush” was the People’s Choice winning $1000 to spend in the State of the Art exhibition.
- Dee Raffo