From eating 100 per cent local in the North to outhouse humour

Ever since Available Light Film Festival launched 19 years ago, it has brought to its audiences stories of different ways of life and different perspectives. Alongside international filmmakers, the festival has always shone a spotlight on homegrown talent.
This year, four films from Dawson City will be featured for online streaming across Canada. As the daylight starts to sneak back into the sky, but the cold settles in, it’s the perfect time to get cozy at home and break free of the winter blues with the stories these filmmakers will tell during ALFF, taking place from Feb. 5 to 22.

First We Eat
The feature-length documentary by Suzanne Crocker puts her family in the middle of a northern experiment: can a family of five live for a year on food exclusively grown, gathered, or raised around Dawson City?
Crocker was inspired to try this experiment after her kids visited the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in Teaching and Working Farm. On the farm, they learned that, while 100 years ago Dawson was able to produce 97 per cent of its own food, these days the same percentage is imported.
Beyond issues of food sovereignty amidst food chain disruptions due to weather and the pandemic, Crocker’s concern was also sparked by the nutrients and freshness of our food.
“I [learned] that the majority of vitamins in fresh greens are lost within five days of picking,” says Crocker. “Which made me wonder how much nutrition was left by the time fresh spinach reached my plate in January. The more I thought about it, the more I realized all the implications of a long food chain, including not really knowing where our food comes from or how it is produced.”
Amidst the story of food in the North, and of creating ingredients we all rely on being readily available in stores, First We Eat is a story of family dynamics and community.

Ëdhä Dädhëcha̧ / Moosehide Slide
Part of North by North: Short Films from Yukon and Northwest Territories
The four-minute short by Dan Sokolowski was made in collaboration with Tr’ondëk Hwech’in citizens and elders to tell the story of the legendary Moosehide Slide in the north end of Dawson City.
The film premieres at the festival and was inspired by the mystery of the phenomenon and the differing views on how it occurred—“one mystical and one rooted in science.”
“The Moosehide Slide is such an omnipresent force in the landscape up here,” says Sokolowsi. “It seems to be the overseer of everything and hence holds a lot of mystery.”

The Salt River Water Walk
Part of North by North: Short Films from Yukon and Northwest Territories
A year ago, Dawson City filmmaker Krista Davis travelled with the Salt River Water Walkers through an Arizona desert. Nibi (Water) Walks are Indigenous-led, extended ceremonies to pray for the water. Every step is taken in prayer and gratitude for water, our life-giving force.
While the film began as a story about the landscape, for Davis it turned into a story about the world of Sharon Day, the Ojibwe elder who leads the walks.
“It was the stories she shared and her commitment to the water, to the Indigenous youth, and to a worldview where radical change is possible when we develop relationships of care with the land, animals and people around us,” says Davis. “Sharon is kind of like a river herself, powerful, perpetually moving forward, nourishing those around her.”
Davis will also have media art in the Downtown Video Art Crawl taking place in four downtown Whitehorse storefront windows from Feb. 7 to 13.

Off the Record
Part of North by North: Short Films from Yukon and Northwest Territories.
In this short comedic mockumentary, Yasmine Renaud and Cud Eastbound tell the fictional story about the disappearance of “genuine thinker” and aspirer to the Guinness Book of World Records, Steven Henderson.
For all Yukoners, the hilarious and at times frustrating portrayal of using an outhouse in the winter is sure to spark recognition and commiserating laughs.
“I am excited to share a little comedy or a simple chuckle during these dark times,” says Eastbound. “I’ve always been fascinated with how other folks deal with maintaining an outhouse in such a cold climate … I think most Yukoners can [relate].”

All four films will be available for streaming on-demand on ALFF Online. The Available Light Film Festival begins Friday, Feb. 5 and ends Monday, Feb. 22. This year’s festival is a hybrid of in-cinema and online screenings and events. Visit alff.ca for details. You can also check out the events on Facebook.

Available Light Film Festival 2021