On the day we met to discuss the 11th Dawson City International Short Film Festival, producer Dan Sokolowski was just finishing getting the 40-page program into final shape to go to the printers.
He looked a little tired, but I was on deadline and showed him no mercy.
“What’s new this year?” I snapped, clicking on my PDA recorder.
He pondered briefly.
The first new thing about this year’s festival is a carry-over from last year’s, at which it was announced that 10 Yukon filmmakers had been commissioned to create 10 two-minute films. The parts of the 10 North project are linked by the first and last words that they were given to use.
On Thursday, April 1, the festival will open with a film by Stefan Popescu and Katherine Berger.Nude Study is, says Sokolowski, the first independent feature drama shot in Dawson City.
“It uses a lot of local actors,” Sokolowski says.
Also that night, Dave Bidini, of Rheostatics fame, will be on hand and on screen, featured in a documentary called Hockey Nomad, in an animation based on hisFive Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica, and in person, to talk about his obsession.
This all means that Thursday will be an actual full night.
Oscar winner Chris Landreth (for Ryan in 2004) will be along to teach a master class in animation, featuring computer techniques and to show his follow-up film, The Spine.
Marv Newland, who created the 1969 cult classic, Bambi Meets Godzilla, will deal with the history and practice of traditional 2D animation.
There will also be an abundance of material from Spain this year, 12 short films from documentary style to comedy and drama.
“They’re obviously putting on a big push in Spain, not only in production values but in getting them out,” Sokolowski says.
Of course all the films being shown here – over 100 of them from Thursday to Sunday night – are new to Dawson. They’ve been selected by a shifting group of dedicated regulars who have come out each week to preview, evaluate and fight over the 300-plus submissions that have been received.
Lots of locals make the film festival work, and the program has thank-yous to over 50 people before the weekend even begins.
Most of the action will be in the ballroom at the Odd Fellows Hall on 2nd Avenue, though one set of films (By the Light of the Moon) will be shown outside, against the wall of the building, in spite of Daylight Saving Time.
Some years that has been a cold experience.
“It looks like our biggest problem this year will be having it dark enough. Peggy’s (across the street) is white and reflects beautifully in the window. Wendy (Cairns) wouldn’t let me paint it black. I told her I’d use water colour and it would just wash off with the rain, but she didn’t want me to do that.”
There will be a Youth Screening at the KIAC School of Visual Art on 3rd Avenue. Films by First Nation creators have been bundled together for a special showing in the luxury of the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre on Front Street.
On the final night, flimmakers will wait with bated breath to see who has won the three MITY (Made in the Yukon) awards (for experienced artists, emerging talent and youth) as well as the Lodestar and Audience Choice awards.
By the end of the weekend the audience should be reeling..