18 January 2017


The World Documentary Award sponsored by Super Channel was a tie between SLED DOGS directed by Fern Levitt and THE WILL TO FLY directed by Katie Bender and Leo Baker. The jury deliberated and had a hard time picking a winner but there was consensus on the top three films. In the end, they chose to give honourable mention to MR. ZARITSKY ON TV and the award for the Best Documentary at the Whistler Film Festival is a tie between THE WILL TO FLY and SLED DOGS.

The World Documentary Jury includes notable documentarian and WFF Alumni Roger Larry (CITIZEN MARC), Documentary Filmmaker Madeleine Grant (Winner of 2015 Hot Doc’s Audience Choice Award and 2015 Winner of the Best Documentary at Whistler Film Festival for THE BACKWARD CLASS), and Avi Federgreen, the talented producer and founder of IndieCan Entertainment who is also attending with two titles at the festival, KISS AND CRY (producer) and MENORCA (distributor).

The Best Mountain Culture Film Award presented by Whistler Blackcomb went to THE WILL TO FLY directed by Katie Bender and Leo Baker. In an unanimous decision, the judges have chosen “THE WILL TO FLY as the winner of this year’s Mountain Culture Award for the way in which it drew the audience into the subject matter, capturing trials and victories of athletic and psychological determination. It was obvious that the filmmakers clearly put absolutely everything into this film and the telling of Lydia’s emotional and personal story.”

The Mountain Culture Jury includes local writers and filmmakers, Feet Banks, founding editor of Mountain Life: Coast Mountains magazine and the co-founder of Whistler’s infamous Heavy Hitting HorrorFest, and Rebecca Wood Barrett, five-time finalist of the World Ski and Snowboard Festival’s 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown, and pro-athlete, two-time Red Bull Cold Rush winner, and filmmaker Sean Pettit, who has produced several award-winning ski films under his company Superproof Inc.

The trophies presented are locally made, traditional first nations hand-carved ‘talking sticks’. These were used in village meetings and discussions to make sure everyone’s voice was heard.  The filmmakers were honoured to receive them.

Whistler Film Festival press release here.