As we close in on Easter Weekend, otherwise known locally as the Dawson City International Short Film Festival (DCISFF), I have to wonder if Dawson’s obsession with amateur video doesn’t have something to do with the fact that the town has no theatre.
Newcomers wouldn’t even know that there used to be one across the street from the Waterfront Building—it was damaged beyond all hope of repair in the flood of 1979, and was demolished a few years back to make way for Tasty Byte and the former Doghouse.
In these days of home video systems and 52-inch plasma or LCD flat screens, the lack of a local theatre may not be as much of a hardship as it once was, but there is still a hankering for big screens, big sound, and the presence of more than just a family group in the audience.
People here do turn out for the local options when they can.
The evening’s showing of the entries ins 48 Hour Film Competition earlier in the winter played to a packed house at the Odd Fellows Hall, and the same will be true for many of the screenings at the DCISFF in April.
People might never think to access all the free videos available on the National Film Board (NFB) website, but a fair number turned out when NFB representative Jesse Curell showed up recently to screen eight animations and documentaries from the NFB’s northern collection.
I don’t think they came simply to say hello to Curell, who lived here for a few years before moving on to her NFB job in Toronto.
The films were screened at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre (DZCC), which has what I guess you could call a scaled down auditorium seating and a decent projection system. DZCC director Glenda Bolt has been showing native themed movies there from time to time, especially as a treat for the students of the Robert Service School, and the DZCC will be one of the venues for the film festival.
There was also an evening showing of archival home movies and local films there during the recent Myth and Medium conference.
A more commercial endeavor has been taking place over the winter at the Dawson City Museum, where comfortable chairs and DVD projection have replaced the hard benches and the 16 mm projector of years gone by.
Last weekend was a typical set of recent releases, with Chipwrecked playing for the kids as a matinee on Saturday and Sunday, and The Iron Lady filling the evening slot.
Other films over the last few months have included Dolphin Tale, Real Steel, The Big Year, which was partly shot near here, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, and The Adventures of Tintin.
Aside from the admission, this project is assisted by donations from the Eldorado Hotel, Ray of Sunshine Variety Store, Dawson Home Hardware, Jimmy’s Place Video Store, Bonanza Market, the Raven’s Nook and Aurora Office.
The last movie of the season at the museum will be this coming weekend with War Horse and the kids’ matinee, We Bought a Zoo.
On a final video note, I understand that the episode of The Murdoch Mysteries, which was filmed in Dawson last summer, will have a special showing at the Palace Grand Theatre around the same time that it first airs on CITY-TV.
Fans of the show will be pleased to learn that while it is in its last season on that station, it has been picked up for renewal by CBC.