On Easter weekend the ballroom of the Oddfellows Hall will be filled with hundreds of short film fans celebrating the 17th edition of the Dawson City International Short Film Festival (DCISFF) and cramming in as much as they can of the 500 hours of screen time that will fill up the days. This is the spring highlight of the programs offered by the Klondike Institute of Art and Culture.
It’s three weeks away as producer Dan Sokolowski sits downstairs in the southeast corner of KIAC headquarters, planning schedules and downloading videos for the festival. It’s his tenth year in the producer’s chair.
Seventeen years ago the 150 or so selections made from the 400 submissions might have arrived on video tape or on DVDs, but it’s pretty much all digital downloads now, and the process takes so long that Sokolowski and his volunteers have taken to calling this “the month of downloads.”
Films were chosen over the course of several months, in five or six intense screenings attended by roughly 36 volunteers in total, though not all at the same time. The selection committee tried to take into account the variety of themes and genres, and part of the producer’s aim is to have each screening be a mix of different styles and lengths.
Most of the ten screenings will take place in the ballroom, which will be enjoying a new sound system this year. The “Cold Cuts” screening will take place at the Confluence Gallery at the Yukon School of Visual Arts. A First Nations themed screening will be held at the Dänojà Zho Cultural Centre.
The festival costs around $97,000 to stage, with about $42,000 of that coming from in-kind donations, and the rest from grants, sponsorships and other donations.
Aside from film screenings, the weekend will feature workshops on various aspects of film and video. The two current KIAC Artists in Residence at Macaulay House, Gail Noonan and Sam Decoste, will be workshopping animation techniques. Brianne Nord-Stewart, whose film “Beating Around the Bush” is on the program, will be on hand with the lead actress in that production to talk about some of the choices they made in shooting the film.
Mike Maryniuk will demonstrate his “found material” style of filmmaking.
Dawson’s own Reuban Ward’s Everybody Knows Me went home with the most hardware at last Month’s Dead North film Festival in Yellowknife, winning for best picture, best director and best actor. It will be shown at DCISFF.
Sokolowski is pleased at the abundance of Yukon made films this year. Once there were only a few, then enough to make up a couple of screenings, and now there are so many that they’re spilling over into other screenings.
There will, weather willing, for Easter weekend in early this year, be a street dance and feast once again, with music by local band, Corn, and 500 pierogies cooked by a host of volunteers.
The festival will begin with a couple of longer films, “Memory Trap” and “The Grubstake” on Thursday evening before the short films take over and run through Good Friday and the weekend to Sunday.
The event will wrap up on Sunday evening with the presentation of the various awards, including the whimsical MITY (Made in the Yukon) statue which is always constructed of some combination of wood, wire and duct tape.