I have been operating between competition screenings for about ten years now, however I’ll always remember my first encounter with a bear a number of ft away from me on the snow-covered pavements as I used to be trudging by 5 ft of snow to catch one more screening on the Whistler Movie Competition.
There was a quick second of eye contact earlier than it raced into the forest, and as I headed to my screening, I remembered considering, “Now that could be a second I will always remember.” It is my model of what I wish to name the Canadian Cocaine Bear — a beautiful black bear operating into the snow.
Earlier than the pandemic drove the world to a standstill, I usually travelled out of Canada to hotter locations to gasoline my soul with probably the most breathtaking views and cultural experiences I may discover. Nonetheless, the pandemic challenged me in additional methods than one: with journey being restricted, all I may do was create a Pinterest board of journey locations and get misplaced in outdated photograph albums. Exploring my never-ending mess of a closet turned the closest factor I needed to pandemic journey.
However because the world began to take again a bit of normalcy post-pandemic, I had the chance to journey to completely different Canadian movie festivals to discover the back-to-theatre expertise in cities round Canada. My time there allowed me to understand what different movie festivals in Canada needed to supply and opened my eyes to the fantastic thing about numerous Canadian cities, particularly after I had by no means wished to journey in winter. I realized to marvel on the gems of nature in our personal yard — all whereas attending to get pleasure from one among my favorite issues on the earth: movie festivals and discovering new movie communities.
Accessible Mild Movie Competition (Whitehorse, Yukon)
Canadian winter has solely ever given me chills — and never the horror film type (though I do love these too). The concept of going to an excellent colder vacation spot in Canada in winter was not one thing that I had ever even thought of. I imply, who desires to be exterior in destructive 20 levels? So after I was provided the chance to attend the Accessible Mild Movie Competition in Whitehorse, I flinched momentarily questioning if I may brace the chilly — nevertheless it was maybe the perfect choice I made this winter.
Nestled between snowy mountain peaks and breathtaking landscapes is the town of Whitehorse. It’s situated on the standard territories of two First Nations: the Kwanlin Dün and the Ta’an Kwach’an Council. The Accessible Mild Movie Competition is a celebration of Northern, Canadian and worldwide cinema. This competition allowed me to discover native Yukon-produced movies that most likely would not have been on my radar in any other case.
Of all of the movies I noticed, I cherished the Yukon-shot Polaris, which was precisely what the synopsis describes it as: “a loopy motion film set within the far north within the 12 months 2101: assume Mad Max on skidoos.” I additionally cherished the Yukon documentary Voices Throughout the Water, which follows two grasp boat-builders as they apply their artwork and discover a approach again to steadiness and therapeutic. It wasn’t simply the chance to expertise native movies, however the local people that welcomed us as we sat in on business pitch conferences and spoke to native filmmakers concerning the Indigenous communities that resided there.
When not catching movies on the competition, I tried to catch some emotions with nature. One of the crucial lovely moments that also lives in my head rent-free was witnessing the Northern Lights in Whitehorse. It was really a particular expertise to face across the hearth beside the cabin ready for Mom Nature to show her beautiful inexperienced lights that danced throughout the sky whereas 1000’s of stars shined brightly above.
On the finish of the competition, I noticed that if I watched these movies at dwelling on my laptop computer, I would not have skilled the tales in the identical approach. As tacky as it would sound, there was a sure spark that got here with being in the identical metropolis and the group when watching these native movies that made this a seamless movie-going expertise in Whitehorse.
Whistler Movie Competition (Whistler, B.C.)
Whistler is a picturesque postcard setting that immediately reminds you of a Hallmark film (or a dozen of them). It has lengthy been the go-to vacation spot for many who love snowboarding and snowboarding. However as somebody who has two left ft in relation to any winter actions, that meant that it was by no means on my wanderlust listing.
However the second I obtained off the bus in December, I felt like I used to be transported to a film set. The snow-capped mountains had been proper there, greeting me each morning enroute to the film screenings. And at night time, after the opening night time celebration, I will always remember merely strolling alongside the streets adorned with stunningly lit Christmas bushes. It was really magical.
The fantastic thing about the Whistler Movie Competition is that moviegoers can attend motion pictures and panels throughout the day whereas taking a break at lunch to move up the mountains and ski. At lunch, I soaked within the cultural and culinary choices. Situated not removed from Whistler Village is the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre — the primary of its type in Canada, situated on the shared, conventional territories of the Squamish Nation and Lil’wat Nation — the place I educated myself on the Squamish and Lil’wat cultural histories, traditions and practices. On different days, I sat at one of many many picnic tables within the village taking within the mountain views that had been proper there whereas devouring treats from purebread, a household bakery in Whistler that had probably the most scrumptious bakery choices.
One in every of my most memorable days concerned watching actor and filmmaker Jason Priestley introduce his documentary Offside: The Harold Ballard Story, then attending a masterclass in cinematography and a networking reception with native filmmakers and writers, adopted by a day on the Blackcomb Gondola to the highest of the mountains to benefit from the lush landscapes whereas having a fine-dining expertise on Blackcomb at Christine’s Restaurant.
One thing I by no means would have tried in any other case was an expertise that was really useful by a number of different writers who raved about this place after I heard them talk about the Whistler Movie Competition. It was a go to to the Bearfoot Bistro, dwelling to the coldest vodka tasting room on the earth at -32 levels Celsius. Sitting collectively sampling vodkas and sharing the movies we had cherished seeing was the right strategy to finish the movie competition expertise. After I do return, that is undoubtedly going to be a convention I will stick with it.
Blue Mountain Movie Competition (Ontario)
I had by no means been to Blue Mountain earlier than, so a summer time journey for the Blue Mountain Movie Competition was an excellent alternative to get to expertise one other competition not too removed from dwelling. Identical to Whistler, it was a vacation spot I hadn’t been to since I do not ski.
The competition provided a mixture of panels, movies and artistic boards for moviegoers and movie critics. The competition allowed movie critics and moviegoers to attend panel discussions and grasp lessons with business leaders, together with a “filmmakers on the high” closing celebration that passed off on the high of the mountain. One other spotlight of the competition included a Blue Mountains places tour that added to the competition expertise.
One movie on the competition I significantly loved was Slash/Again, the Canadian Inuit sci-fi movie directed by Nyla Innuksuk in her characteristic debut. Innuksuk was additionally in attendance, and I had the distinctive alternative to ask her about her movie and the making of it as she stayed behind after the screening.
My most memorable second on this journey was a artistic discussion board that concerned a day hike with award-winning Canadian filmmaker Patricia Rozema. As we hiked up the steep mountain, we might cease and take within the views whereas she shared behind-the-scenes movie tales that had been simply fascinating. The scenic view from the highest was merely a bonus to the tales.
These movie festivals had been really one-of-a-kind experiences. I would by no means imagined watching a neighborhood movie with the group (there’s nothing that beats that) after which strolling out of the theatre and feeling such as you’ve been transported to the movie set on location with the beautiful backdrop. The screen-to-life translation really was the reward of the competition expertise.
My need to return to theatres, join with different moviegoers, and discover new locations in Canada post-pandemic has solely been elevated since attending these fests. It linked me to a way of journey and confirmed me the ability of getting out of my consolation zone. It even jogged my memory of what I like a lot about movie within the first place!
It is the small joys of that first bear sighting (!), or the fantastic thing about the dancing Northern Lights because it lit the skies in our personal yard, or just connecting with a neighborhood movie group — these are the moments that make the sub-zero temperatures price it.
Journey bills to Whitehorse and Whistler had been coated by a promotion marketing campaign from Telefilm Canada, which had no editorial involvement on this story.