A Sokolowski Twin Pack

Visitors to the Atlin Arts and Music Festival this weekend can look forward to an excellent lineup of films to round out their entertainment schedule, thanks to the Yukon Film Society.

Featured on Saturday is a pair of films that feature some breathtaking vistas of the beauty of Canada from a Yukon filmmaker, as well as a look at an iconic Canadian troubadour.

Dan Sokolowski is the programmer of the annual Dawson International Film Festival.

A graduate in fine arts from University of Ottawa, he’s also an accomplished filmmaker, whose most recent work, Degrees North, is a lyrical blend of stunning landscape photography, original artistic animation and a thoughtful musical score.

Filming with a pair of 16mm Bolex cameras, Sokolowski made 10 different cross-country road trips, covering a distance of over 50,000 kilometres. His idea was to capture the essence of a Canadian panorama, from south to north.

Starting at the southernmost tip of the country, Pelee Island at 42 degrees latitude, is on the same parallel as parts of northern California.

Sokolowski’s camerawork emphasizes the lush vegetation of the region and the alluring waterscape.

His vista is soft and flowing, in sharp contrast to the rocky prominence of the next area of the country he captures, the northern shore of Lake Superior, at 48 degrees latitude.

From here, Sokolowski moves ever north, through the western badlands, finishing up in the Yukon and above the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories.

His film is totally devoid of narration, with only the lapping of the waters, the cry of loons and the soft serenade of waterfowl for accompaniment, as well as a gentle score from Halifax’s Peter Togni and his combo, and vocal work from Ottawa’s Ian Tamblyn.

Degrees North is a captivating experience not to be missed.

Ron Hynes’s craggy visage has graced Newfoundland stages for some 40-plus years. He started playing guitar at age nine, switching from piano lessons to playing Buddy Holly licks, and by age 16 he was offered a recording contract.

The Man of a Thousand Songs, a new musical documentary produced in St. John’s, is a candid and frank portrayal of the ups and downs of his career.

Majoring in coffee house at university, in his words, he slept on pool tables and toured all over the island.

In 1976, Hynes scored big on the folk circuit with his poignant recording of Sonny’s Dream, a song that’s been covered by many artists, which he claimed he dashed off in 10 minutes.

The film details his years with a local musical sketch comedy group called the Wonderful Grand Band, who were the successors to the famed CBC stars CODCO, until the death of group member Greg Sexton and the disbandment of the troupe.

Hynes’s professional life was marred by a deep-seated cocaine addiction in the mid- ’90s that almost destroyed him, bringing out a troubled facet of his personality that he refers to in the film as “the other Ron”.

Hynes is acknowledged by his peers as one of the most prolific and durable songwriters around. Sokolowski’s film is a glowing tribute to his versatility and heartfelt genius.

The Man of a Thousand Songs plays at the Atlin Arts and Music Festival Saturday, July 7 at 10:15 a.m. in the Globe Theatre, followed by Degrees North at noon, with Sokolowski in attendance.

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