Short Film Fest Flurry

A close look at goths who ride Winnipeg buses, an animation about Yukon sledding, and films about climate change will appear among more than 100 short films that will screen in Dawson City from April 21 to 24.

This year marks the 12th edition of this annual event that has increasingly become a highlight of the town’s active cultural calendar.

“Every year, the quality of our submissions gets better and better, making it a harder pool to choose from,” says festival producer Dan Sokolowski.

Most of the three-day festival is devoted to multiple programs of short films. It’s a format that could easily be watched online, but people still seem to enjoy crowding into the ballroom at KIAC (the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture) to eat popcorn and soak in the filmic ambiance.

“Despite the internet’s popularity, it’s still always fun to get together and watch projected movies in the dark, picking and arguing over your favourites,” Sokolowski says.

Every year the festival invites several special guests who infuse each installment of the event with its own special character. This year is no exception.

Special visitors include St. John’s-based composer Rozalind MacPhail, who will open the festival playing live music with the work of 11 Newfoundland filmmakers on screen.

Travelling from Toronto are actor and director Michael Greyeyes, who will lead a workshop on actor-director communications, and executive director of Bravo! FACT, Judy Gladstone, who will discuss the in’s and out’s of producing and marketing a short film.

What about films that combine documentary and opera? It’s not an established genre but documentary filmmaker and York University professor Brenda Longfellow will lead a workshop on Friday called “From Documentary to Documentary Opera”.

“Over the last two years, I’ve been working on a series of musical shorts which use opera, animation, faux interviews and shamelessly anthromorphized animals to explore social issues,” Longfellow explains in her artist statement.

“After spending three years completing a conventional film on the environmental crisis (Weather Report, 2007), which had exactly zero impact, I began to think about approaching the issue of climate change from an entirely different perspective.”

Longfellow will work with participants to create a short collaborative film about climate change in Dawson.

The kicker: it will take place over the course of that single afternoon, and the final product will screen later that night.

Her film Carpe Diem, which looks at the environmental disaster of the Alberta Tar Sands, screens in the festival on Saturday night.

And that’s not all in terms of special events: current KIAC artists-in-residence Marcia Connolly and Angela Joosse plan to debut a film created during their seven-week stay in Dawson this spring.

For those itching to take a break from the ballroom screenings, the ODD Gallery will be set up to show short films by Vancouver new media artist Isabelle Pauwels.

And for those itching to get outdoors altogether, a barbecue on Sunday afternoon will offer a break from the theatre’s dark confines.

Despite the excitement created by the special guests and events, Yukon filmmakers will maintain a prominent place within the festival’s programming.

Our Changing Homeland, Our Changing Lives was shot in Old Crow and produced by Yukoner Tookie Mercredi, who produced the six-part series Out in the Cold for Discovery Canada a few years ago.

Mercredi’s film looks at some of the rapid changes climate change is bringing to the Vuntut Gwichin homeland.

Work by emerging and established filmmakers from Whitehorse, Old Crow and Dawson City can be seen in several screenings, in particular at “The Spell of the Yukon” program on Friday night.

And continuing the theme of the spell, Istvan – even there no kiddin’ – a film byformer ODD Gallery director Mike Yuhasz – is allegedly providing him an excuse to come North again for a visit.

The list of Yukon filmmakers is too long to print here, but can be found with all the other details about films from Burundi, the rest of Canada, Finland, Spain, the United States and more at

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