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Whistler Film Festival Day 2 – movies, celebs, amuse bouches

Whistler's Convention Centre, where much of the action takes place. Rachel Fox photo.

When movies go to the mountains – 2011 Whistler Film Festival Day 2

– by Rachel Fox

Other than seeing lots of movies and hob-nobbing with people far more interesting that myself, the best thing about the Whistler Film Festival is having the opportunity to make the trek up the mountain to this gorgeous little ski town. I fled the cold Ontario winters of my youth for the more temperate fare of B.C. for a reason, but I will put aside my bias towards the white stuff when it comes to this place. It really is lovely. And so much fun!

This is the ridiculously gorgeous view from my hotel room. Rachel Fox photo.

I’m staying at the Listel Hotel, which is literally steps away from the heart of the village and the Convention Centre where a great deal of the festival action takes place. I’ve been enjoying the free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast but am annoyed with myself for forgetting my bathing suit as the Listel has a hot tub. A friend offered to lend me her bikini and after I was done laughing told her, in all seriousness, “Rachel doesn’t do bikinis.”

My room at the Listel. It's messy now. Rachel Fox photo.

I’ve taken in some screenings since coming up here, notably Jason Reitman‘s new movie Young Adult and director Randal Cole‘s high-concept thriller 388 Arletta Avenue, which is one of the six films nominated for this year’s Borsos Award for Best Canadian Feature.

A fireside (sans fire) chat avec Café de Flore director Jean-Marc Vallée. Rachel Fox photo.

Director Jean-Marc Vallée is also nominated for this year’s Borsos Award for his new film Café de Flore, starring Vanessa Paradis. He is one of this country’s greatest talents, with credits including the Genie-award winning international commercial smash C.R.A.Z.Y. and the Oscar-winning The Young Victoria.

His latest was one of the most gorgeous, romantic films I’ve seen in ages and I just absolutely adored it. You know what made me adore it even more? That it’s Canadian. (It’s how I roll.) I had the opportunity to interview him about the film and will have more on that. Soon.

Jay Baruchel accepting his award. Rachel Fox photo.

Canadian actor Jay Baruchel is best known for comedic turns and is firmly ensconced in Judd Apatow‘s stable, though dramatic roles in films like Clint Eastwood‘s Million Dollar Baby also figure on his increasingly impressive resumé. Baruchel was honoured with both a tribute from the Whistler Film Festival and its first-ever Screenwriter to Watch award for his work in co-writing the hockey-comed Goon. Directed by Michael Dowse (It’s All Gone Pete Tong, FUBAR), the hockey comedy will be released in Canada on Feb 24 and stars Baruchel, Sean William Scott, Liev Schreiber and Allison Pill.

Variety magazine's Steven Gaydos in conversation. Rachel Fox photo.

Jay Baruchel. Rachel Fox photo.

The revealing, intimate, and often funny conversation was held at the conference centre and led by Steven Gaydos, Executive Editor of Variety (a major festival sponsor). Baruchel opened up about everything from his humble family life in Montreal to being seriously bullied at school as a kid. The fiercely patriotic actor, who despite the Hollywood fame opts to reside in Montreal, spoke with great zeal about his passion for Canada and Canadian film, and told the audience how he “wanted to do for Montreal what [David] Cronenberg did for Toronto.”

Jay Baruchel. Rachel Fox photo.

Following Baruchel’s tribute, all the cool kids head over to the swank Bearfoot Bistro, conveniently located (for me) at the Listel Hotel. As awesome as after-parties can be, I’m a firm believer they’re even better when the coatcheck is in my room.

Bearfoot Bistro's Chef Melissa Craig (left) shows off her wares. Rachel Fox photo.

The wine was flowing and the food was fabulous. Executive chef Melissa Craig had mouths watering with gourmet sliders, satay, sushi, insanely gorgeous amuse bouches dessert sticks (I have no idea what was in them – but man, were they good) and the creamiest ice cream I’ve ever had made on the spot – with liquid nitrogen! Very El Bulli.

This is how good sushi can look on a mountain. After-party noshing at The Bearfoot Bistro. Rachel Fox photo.

Days here are largely full of happy coincidences and pleasant surprises, leading credence to  the festival’s prophetic tagline: “Prepare for the unexpected.”

Adrian Grenier made an entourage-free appearance. There's no way my camera could possibly do justice to his eyes... Rachel Fox photo.

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