Now in its 15th year, the Available Light Film Festival kicks off on Friday, Feb. 3 with a musical performance by John K. Samson and the Winter Wheat. The festival features over 40 events: film, media art, live performances and artist talks. The films in the festival come from around the world and across Canada and film industry guests will visit Whitehorse during the festival, which runs until Feb. 12.
Find the full the schedule at ALFF.ca.
Special to the festival this year is a curated series of Yukon short documentaries that explore the wonder of the Yukon and its people. These documentaries will be screened on Feb. 6.
Pictures Don’t Lie
Written and drected by Dawson City filmmaker Lulu Keating, this film shares the storied life of a Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in elder, and the freedom and beauty within. A palpable slideshow reveals the loves, losses and unbelievable adventures of JJ Van Bibber and his kin. The documentary features photographs of the Van Bibber family and friends, set in astoundingly rugged landscapes and life’s real moments.
Carrying the camera all his life JJ, who passed away in 2012, comes to life again as it is his voice you’ll hear describing the fantastic photos of mushing missions through dangerous canyons, rafting the Yukon River to Dawson City, and his wife, Clara, protecting chubby children from conniving wolves. The photos reveal an intimate history of the Yukon. They serve as a chance window into a special life story, as well as a telltale document of cultural politics. Storytelling at its finest.
Written and Directed by Whitehorse filmmaker Kelly Milner, Shift focuses on the Montana Mountain, which stretches into the skies of traditional Carcross/Tagish First Nation territory in Carcross, Yukon.
The First Nation is modernizing its local economy through a grassroots initiative to build mountain biking trails and market Carcross as a world-class adventure tourism destination. The project has been running 10 years thus far and has been an immense success, attracting mountain biking enthusiasts from around the globe.
The unique thing about this project is that the trails are built primarily by the local youth of the Carcross/Tagish First Nation. The Singletrack to Success (S2S) Program has been a way to get youth involved, back out on the land, and literally shaping and building their community. The film garnered the People’s Choice Award from the 2016 Banff Mountain Film Festival.
Written and Directed by Vivian Belik and Naomi Mark, two Whitehorse based filmmakers, Underdog tells the story of Yuka Honda, a Japanese woman with an unlikely passion for dog sledding, who competes in the toughest mushing race on Earth: The Yukon Quest.
No matter what path you choose in life, it all somehow ties back into where you come from. Struggling to make ends meet, and grieving over her recently deceased mother, Yuka finds strength in knowing her mother is watching over her daunting quest.
Directed by Allan Code, a Whitehorse based filmmaker, Arctic Secrets is a symphony of immensely strong and surprisingly fragile elements that comprise the wilderness of the Yukon Territory. Stunning imagery abounds in this visual adventure through its waters, mountains, and forests.
Focusing mainly on the more arctic regions of the territory, Code and cinematographer Mike Code capture landscapes and habitats with UAV-mounted cameras (drones) that no helicopter or human could ever reach. Animals of the north have been astoundingly resilient to change and extreme weather conditions in the past. Like the small pika and marmot that live in the glacial moraines of retreated glaciers, and the nearly extinct bald eagle and trumpeter swan that made miraculous comebacks.
An unprecedented shift is occurring in the form of global climate change. Only time will tell what the full effects will be, but there are already some jarring and visible manifestations.
The Yukon’s diverse wildlife serve as an abnormally tough canary in a coal mine for our rapidly changing world.
The documentaries Pictures Don’t Lie, Shift and Underdog screen on Monday, Feb. 6 at 12 p.m. at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. Arctic Secrets screens Monday, Feb. 6 at 5 p.m. at The Yukon Arts Centre.