While the Dawson Film Fest has technically been underway since Thursday night’s special screening, and yesterday included workshops, socials, and the kick-off of Cold Cuts, it was finally time to get down to the main course on Friday night – the shorts. And there was no better way to get that ball rolling than with the 7 p.m. screening entitled Yukon and Beyond. This year’s collection of films featured works from a dozen Yukon filmmakers, including five from Dawson. Not surprisingly this screening is always well attended, with many locals turning out to support their neighbours and peers.
After DCISFF director Dan Sokolowski introduced those filmmakers who were in the audience, it was time to get down to watching the shorts themselves. From thought-provoking documentaries to moving dramas to hilarious send-ups, the eclectic gaggle of films –14 in all – covered the gamut of genres and styles. Many, however, had some aspect of northern life in their theme.
The films included: Lapse, a stop-action animation with a surprise ending by local artist and teacher Veronica Verkley; Jim Robb’s Yukon by Andrew Connors and Zoë Toupin, a biographical documentary about one of the Yukon’s best-known artists and illustrators; Annie’s Reel, a poignant 2D animation that showing a nursing-home resident transformed in time; Singing Through an Illness by Nicole Edwards, showing a Yukon musician’s brave battle to overcome a debilitating chronic illness; The Art of Balance by Karen Mackay (who won the MITY first film award last year) showing stone-balancing artists from around the world at a Ottawa festival; Dead Caribou Dialogue by local favourite Lulu Keating, an experimental short about communing with the spirits of the animals we consume for food; Forever Mom by Jessica Hall and Julie Robinson, an intimate and highly-stylized look into mothers coping with children with disabilities; Winter by lisa g., a thought-provoking, cross-generational look into winter life in Old Crow; RA.D.AR by Zoë Toupin, Moriah MacMillan, Rosemary Scanlon, Meagan Deulling, and Geneviève Doyon, an experimental film about a young woman disaffected by the past life of her re-purposed apartment building; The Wolverine : The Fight of the James Bay Cree by Ernest Webb, depicting the Cree Nation’s resistance against uranium mining in James Bay, Québec; Remembering Claire by Dawsonite Evelyn Pollock, a moving story showing an old man’s fight to cling to his identity and memories of the love of his life as his mind is ravaged by disease; The Future of Northern Agriculture, a mockumentary by local writer and filmmaker Meg Walker; and We Are From Ontario, a hilarious send-up of the immigrant experience in Northern Canada through interpretive dance and spoken word poetry by Chris McNutt.
— Danny Dowhal