Watching a movie at a drive-in theatre isn’t just a nostalgia trip; it’s also one of the safest and easiest ways to enjoy cinema during a pandemic. This is why the Yukon Film Society (YFS), in cooperation with the Yukon Arts Centre and Whitehorse Street Food Festival, and with help from CJUC and the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre (KDCC), is presenting two nights of drive-in movies in Whitehorse and Carcross this September. It’s part of the Government of Yukon’s Great Yukon Summer programming.
After a successful run of drive-in movies last summer, YFS decided to have another crack at it this year, as Whitehorse’s public movie theatres are still closed and the window during which the weather allows for outdoor movie screenings in the Yukon is incredibly small.
Much of the content movie-goers will be able to see this year is Canadian-made, including some shorts by Canadian filmmakers. These will be screened before feature films. According to YFS artistic director, Andrew Connors, YFS has always played a prominent role in bringing Canadian-made and Indigenous-led content to Yukoners.
“Canadian cinema often gets short shrift in the distribution world,” Connors said. “An important part of our role as an exhibitor of films and media art is championing the voices of Canadian creators. Even when the commercial cinemas were open here, it was very rare that a Canadian film could be seen on screen there.”
Connors has been an independent filmmaker himself for over 25 years and has been involved in lots of film festival organizing and pop-up movie projects around the Yukon throughout his career. He said there are challenges with any project. Putting together a series of film screenings is always a lot of work. Luckily, the pandemic didn’t make the logistics of staging a pop-up drive-in cinema too much more difficult.
“It’s a really great presentation format during a health pandemic, so I wouldn’t say there’s a lot of extra work,” said Connors. “Yukoners in general are pretty good about maintaining physical distancing, but we’ll have lots of volunteers to manage that.”
The feature films being screened as part of these events include 202 Pixar movie Soul, as well as the 2000 Coen Brothers film O Brother, Where Art Thou? Also featured will be two Canadian feature films. One is a documentary called You Are Here: A Come From Away Story, which is about the making of the Broadway musical Come From Away. The other is Beans, an award-winning, Canadian-made, coming-of-age drama centering on a 12-year-old Mohawk girl during the Oka crisis of 1990, when an Indigenous uprising created massive tensions between Quebec and Canada for a turbulent 78 days.
“It’s a really powerful film,” Connors said of Beans.
The film screenings in Whitehorse will take place Sept. 10 and 11, with the wall of the public library as the screen. The second night will include a free screening of Beans. The Carcross event, which is free access, will feature Beans and a program of Yukon short films at the Carcross/Tagish Learning Centre. Spaces are limited for all events, so attendees must purchase tickets in advance through the YFS Square Store. For the free screenings, attendees must register through Eventbrite.
“To bring cinema outside in a unique atmosphere is always really cool—we’re just generally excited,” said Connors. “It’s a really lovely payoff when there’s a parking lot full of people and they’re just so happy to be having that experience and coming together in a trying time when they haven’t been able to come together and watch movies in a shared experience for quite some time.”
To check out the schedule and find tickets, head over to yukonfilmsociety.com/.