Ghosts, Bees and Wagons

The Yukon Film Society offers its Available Light Cinema showings again this Sunday at the Yukon Arts Centre.

The varied bill of fare includes an iconic comedy classic that features lots of Canadian talent – just in time for Halloween, a fascinating documentary, an offbeat western, and an array of animated films geared for the whole family.

A day full day of film entertainment starts at 2 p.m. with the 1984 hit, Ghostbusters.

Featuring Canadians Rick Moranis and Dan Aykroyd, and directed by Canadian Ivan Reitman, this hilarious tale of defrocked parapsychologists who rid New York City of assorted ghouls and prehistoric spirits – replete with their proton packs and de-slimers – holds up well, even after 30 years.

At 4 p.m., there’s a program of new National Film Board animated films from across Canada, followed by the spectacular new documentary, Queen Of The Sun at 6 p.m.

Queen Of The Sun looks at the Colony Collapse Disorder, which threatens the existence of honeybees all over the world, with disastrous implications for the survival of life on the planet as we know it.

The widespread use of insecticides over the years, combined with the agricultural practice of monoculture (planting the same crop year after year, to the point of soil exhaustion) has played havoc on honeybees.

Whole colonies are wiped out as bees leave their hives, become confused by the effects of insecticides on their systems, and fail to return to their colonies.

In a beautifully photographed film, director Taggart Siegel combines interviews with international beekeepers and scientific facts to portray a worldwide crisis that is potentially more threatening than global warming.

Artificial, mechanized honeybee production and a diet of a destructive, high-fructose syrup diet have rendered them susceptible to attack from mites and viruses, further decimating their population.

The simple, yet vital, act of pollination from plant to plant is what keeps our global supply of crops going. With the death of bees, the bald fact is that we also die, as crop failure occurs on a global scale.

Siegel’s powerful and important film does hold out hope, however, as beekeepers and agriculturalists discuss ways the crisis can be averted.

Rounding out the day’s film fare is Meek’s Cutoff at 8 p.m. It stars Bruce Greenwood, recently seen in Super 8 and Barney’s Version.

Greenwood plays Stephen Meek, a blowhard mountain man and trail guide who leads a wagon train of three families through the Cascade Mountains along the Oregon Trail in 1845.

Based on true events, it is a spare and understated film that contrasts the braggadocio of Greenwood’s talkative character with the stoic, trusting nature of the settlers he is leading to a better life in the Pacific Northwest.

Their trust in Meek soon turns to fear and suspicion, as it gradually becomes apparent that he has rendered the wagon train hopelessly and irrevocably lost by taking a shortcut through a winding desert trail.

In hooded sunbonnets that obscure their vision, the women of the group form a dramatic counterpoint to Meek’s blustering, and finally defy their cultural conditioning to stand up to him.

When the wagon train encounters a lone Indian on the trail, he advocates that the group kill the unknown warrior on the spot. It is the women who want to spare him.

Meek’s Cutoff is not your typical Western. Its action and motivation are slower-paced and more thoughtful. For that reason, many critics have called it an anti-western. But it’s well worth the time to savour its particular appeal.

Available Light Cinema is a new series of documentaries, contemporary and family films, presented monthly by the Yukon Film Society, with screenings in the comfort and superior sound of the Yukon Arts Centre.

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