Celebrate the Art of Filmmaking this Weekend

The cupboard behind Dan Sokolowski’s head is still covered with the multi-coloured Post-it notes he’s been using to assign the 86 short films in this year’s Dawson City International Short Film Festival to various categories for Friday, Saturday and Sunday screenings that will fill up this Easter Weekend.

The films were selected by a group of people that varied from four to 12 viewers, meeting twice weekly (except during the really cold weather) from October to February.

At this writing, Sokolowski was still eating up the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture’s (KIAC) bandwidth and stressing Northwestel’s capacity by downloading the digital files needed to screen the films. This stage of the process has taken about three weeks.

In keeping with past practice, there will be a long film shown on Thursday, April 13, as an item distinct from the one minute to 30 minute shorts that have been placed in the 10 screenings.

This year it’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, the 120 minute documentary by American filmmaker Bill Morrison that tells the story of 533 films that came to Dawson between 1910 and the 1920s, and ended up part of a landfill behind Diamond Tooth Gertie’s. They were unearthed when the Bonanza Centre Recreation complex was being built in 1978.

This film has already been shown in New York and is making the circuit, but this will be its Yukon premiere. Morrison will be here, along with Mike and Kathy Gates, who were involved in the film discovery when they were were both employed here. They are in the film and provided a lot of the research.

The 10 film screenings, beginning after the Cold Cuts Video Festival Opening Reception at 4 p.m. on Thursday, have titles like Yukon Projections, Up River, Beyond the Aurora, Reel Canada, Down River, Strange Things Done.

While most of the screenings will be held in the KIAC Ballroom, the Cold Cuts session will be in the ODD Gallery (downstairs). The “First Eyes” screening, which features films on First Nations themes, will be held at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre.

Before Friday’s evening events begin, there will be a four-hour afternoon Video Boot Camp put on by Yellowknife’s Artless Collective. The aim is to produce a number of one minute films over the weekend and have them ready to show as part of Sunday night’s final screening, just before the presentation of the Made in the Yukon Awards.

Sokolowski is very excited to have Artless Collective participating in this year’s short film festival. The collective’s Dead North Film Festival is exclusively about Northern films, and he says they are doing great work.

On that theme, though, he is happy to report an increasing number of Yukon made films at the short film festival, including entries by Suzanne Crocker, David Curtis, Daniel Janke and Lulu Keating, along with a strong group of films by young people this year.

On Saturday, Max Fraser will present a talk called “Bringing Focus to Digital Media,” based on his experience creating the web-based companion to his 2015 documentary Bond of Strangers.

Also on Saturday, Chris McNutt of the Screen Production Yukon Association will host a roundtable discussion on media training opportunities in the territory.

On Sunday, Gail Maurice, whose film Assini won last year’s Audience Favourite Award here, will hold a workshop titled Scriptwriting from Personal Experience.

That will be followed by KIAC’s current artist-in-residence, Sarah Gignac, screening two of her short films, and talking about her use of magic realism and fantasy.

Sunday’s supper will feature homemade perogies served outside KIAC on Princess Street, with music provided by Dawson’s Corn.

The final film screening, Break Up, will be followed by the awards ceremony and then by a live concert party with a band from Prince George called Frontal Lobotomy.

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