Days 155-162: Whistler Film Festival

After not getting much sleep the night before, I took a nap and then talked with my best friend, Misty, on the phone. I looked out the window as we talked and could see that snow was falling! I had been waiting for this day for nearly a month.

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The next day I walked to the gym and worked out. The walk was always beautiful, but it was definitely colder outside.

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It was Monday night and time for another free game night at the library. I arrived and saw my two new friends from Japan who I had met at game night two weeks prior. There was another girl from Japan, a guy from Germany, and a girl from Germany who joined us.

We decided to play Monopoly since the girls from Japan had never played before. The girl and guy from Germany had played before, but not a lot. I grew up loving that game, so I was pumped to teach new people how to play.

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Kristina was from Germany and helped me teach the others. Saya, Misato, and Serena from Japan were quick learners. Kristina was in Whistler with a one-year working visa. She was working at a hotel in housekeeping. Misato and Saya were also there for a one-year working visa. We didn’t get a chance to talk too much because we had to play the game.

We were only allowed two hours and by the time we started to play, we had an hour and a half. After an hour, I realized all of the properties were sold, but not many people had a set. They couldn’t buy a house or a hotel, so each time someone landed, it was only $15 for rent. I told the group they needed to start trading, negotiating, and making big moves because we only had 20 minutes left to play. The game can take many hours, so I helped facilitate trades to move it along. Even though we were allowed to stay a little later, we had to quit playing before someone actually won.

We finished around 9:30 pm and I walked over to Brickworks, a pub, to get a drink and some food. When I sat down at the bar, the Irish bartender asked me if I wanted the same beer that I had two nights before when I was there with Josh. I thought it was awesome that he remembered me and my drink – I was definitely feeling like a local.

I spent the next few days writing, working out, and living in my little studio. On the city’s website, I saw that the Whistler Film Festival was in town. I bought a ticket to a few showings and was looking forward to watching some new movies.

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My first showing was on day 160 at 9:00 pm. The movie was called Stockholm and featured Ethan Hawk. The only other film festival I’ve attended was Sundance in Park City, Utah, several years ago. I saw the movie Boyhood, which also features Ethan Hawk. The movie was great! It is about how the phrase “Stockholm syndrome” came about when an American robbed a bank in Stockholm and held hostages. The movie was well done and entertaining. Once it ended, the director was there to answer questions from the audience.

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The next evening, at 9:30 pm, I took the bus to the village and walked around. The funny thing about Whistler is that it seems most people are in their 20s-30s, but there are hardly any children around. It often feels like living in an international college town full of snowboarders and skiers who love to party. I ended up at Blacks to listen to some live music. I sat alone at a tall cocktail table and enjoyed the one-man band.

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The next morning, I had my next movie showing: Untogether. The movie is about relationships and was ok. The Executive Director was there and talked about how dramas don’t make a lot of money at the box office, so they need people to support them at festivals.

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I walked over to Portobello’s for lunch. At the register, the girl told me that she also saw the movie Stockholm. She said her boyfriend was bummed that they didn’t have cocktails and she didn’t know it was based on a true story until I told her. Clearly she didn’t stay for the Q & A.

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I walked around the Fairmont Chateau and then down the street to the Four Seasons Hotel because they had a Festival of Trees. Outside, frost covered the ground. Each blade of grass and fallen leaf was covered in crystals. It was a cold walk over there and my nose started to run.

Inside, there were several Christmas trees beautifully decorated in the lobby. Downstairs, there was a tree-decorating competition, which included a tree surrounded by hockey sticks and an upside-down tree.

In the afternoon, I headed to another theater that was playing An Audience of Chairs, a film about a woman struggling with mental illness. The movie was very well done and I couldn’t help but cry throughout it. I was embarrassed when they turned on the lights for the Q & A with the director. However, the entire theater was full of tear-streaked faces and sniffling noses.

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I walked around the village afterward and it was now dark outside. I was thankful for the darkness so my puffy eyes could be concealed. As I walked back towards my car, I saw a sign for a showing of The Radicals. Tickets were still available so I bought one and stood in line.

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The documentary touted itself as “environmentalism meets action sports,” so I thought it would be interesting. It was made by some locals in Whistler and I sat next to the director in the packed theater. The documentary was just ok. The problem with it is that they had two themes going on: the beautiful shots of snowboarders flying down the mountain in the powdered snow; and the activists fighting against the salmon farms and BC hydro for limiting water in native villages. I understand they were trying to connect it because some snowboarders have become activists, but I felt like the movie should have focused on one of the topics.

After the movie, they had around eight to ten people at the front to answer any questions. Most of them were the native tribe leaders who were interviewed in the film. Unfortunately, nobody was doing a good job of moderating and a couple of people told extremely long-winded stories, often repeating themselves. It took about an hour to get through the stories and monotoned pleas for activism. I wanted to get up and leave, but I’d have to walk in front of everyone, so I just sat there.

Overall, the film festival was great and I had a chance to support independent artists and their films. If you’re ever near a film festival, I encourage you to buy single tickets and see the films you’re interested in seeing. It’s a great way to help ensure the production of movies other than big box-office hits.

Post Edited By: Mandy Strider
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