If you’ve ever been to a slick film festival Outside, you will have seen a short signal film before each program. It heralds the professional stature of the festival.

Dawson City is no different: Yukon-made signal films will introduce each screening. This is yet another indication of how far the Dawson City International Film Festival has come in 10 years.

In celebration of the anniversary, the festival breaks into a gallop with a retrospective of award-winning films from previous years. David Curtis, festival founder and director, curates Thursday night’s exceptional program.

Dawson will host another “Dawson” – avant-garde filmmaker from Winnipeg, Deco Dawson. He conducts a Master Class on Friday afternoon. Enthusiasts will remember his Dumb Angel from the 2006 Festival. Events like this and even some of the screenings are free.

Then it all gets a bit out of control, a cinéfest explosion.

All weekend, the OddGallery window will be screening a video loop. The Long and the Short was shot at summer solstice and winter solstice by Gwen MacGregor and Lewis Nicholson. Their show is interrupted for the Friday-night outdoor screening – a program projected onto Princess Street.

Hey, it was amazing last year – over 100 people watched in a windy -20.

Bill MacGillivray and Terry Greenlaw are an inspirational filmmaking team from Halifax. Their Master Class is on Saturday afternoon. I’ve been watching MacGillivray’s defining dramas since the 1970s.

In 1981, Picture Plant was incorporated to produce documentaries, dramas and a hugely popular TV series, Gulliges. Their documentary, Silent Messengers, screening Saturday night, explores the mysteries of the Inuksuit, the sacred signs of the first inhabitants of the North, shot in Nunavut.

One of the festival’s greatest rewards is its role in the growth of Yukon filmmaking.

This year there are 37 homegrown films. Among Yukoners is Teslin filmmaker Duane Gastant’ Aucoin with his documentary, My Own Private Lower Post. Mary Jane Moses will attend from Old Crow with her film Dinji Shik Trat Tat Gwich’ii (which means “man who always lives in the bush”).

One Dawson City family will be there all weekend: Suzanne Crocker had a hand in four productions, three of which were made in filmmaking workshops. Her son, Sam, and daughter, Katie, entered their animations; husband Gerard Parsons made a follow-up to his Canoe Builder of the Mighty McQueston.

A healthy Whitehorse contingent will attend, including Werner Walcher who has four profiles of children as well as the documentary, Follow Your Dreams. Terry Haines (Vancouver) and Jeff Winch (Toronto) will join them.

Scott Amos (Victoria) will screen his newest work accompanied by a live music performance by Rozalind MacPhail. They are artists-in-residence in the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture residency program.

The scriptwriter of Margaret’s Museum will attend this year’s festival. Gerald Wexler conducts a screenplay writing workshop.

And, if that’s not enough, programs of work from around the world culminate in the always-packed Emerging Artist screening with over 20 films by local yokels.

Festival producer Dan Sokolowski says,”People come out to watch the films and crave that stimulation. Hundreds of films from hundreds of different people’s points of view. If it weren’t for the crowds, we wouldn’t keep doing it.”

For tickets and more information about the festival, contact KIAC at 993-5005 or visit www.kiac.ca.