Out of the Cold, the DCISFF’s Sunday 1 p.m. screening, is often the venue for showing films by emerging Yukon filmmakers, including debut productions on many occasions. That was again the case this year, with several offerings by first- or second-time artists, combined with submissions from some veterans. Many of the filmmakers were in attendance in the packed Odd Fellows Hall, and festival director Dan Sokolowski took a moment before the screening to introduce them, adding an extra layer of enthusiasm to the already buzzing crowd. The slate also included a trio of films from indigenous filmmakers dealing with the emotional scars of residential schools. These were produced as part of a joint program between the Tr’ondëk Hwëch’in First Nation, Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC), and the Yukon School of the Visual Arts (SOVA).
The screening started with At The Copa, and two-minute animation by current SOVA student Heeyoung Chung. Filmed with paper puppets and without dialog, the film is based on the song ‘At the Copa’ and creatively relates the tragic story line contained within the original classic Barry Manilow song.
And Last – Chapter 8 by former Dawsonite Jay Armitage, was an experimental 3D animation depicting Robert Service’s thoughts and feelings on leaving Dawson City for the last time. Arimtage did all the animation himself, including recreating buildings of the Gold Rush era in considerable architectural detail.
Light on the Path from Georgette MacLoed is a poignant animation that tells the story of a young girl struggling to survive the difficult times after she loses the only people who can protect her. Although told in a simple fashion, the piece touches on deep themes of resilience, hope, and exploring inner strength to overcome difficult family times.
Take the Wild from emerging Dawson filmmakers Krista Davis and Cari Tangedal is an exquisitely shot and edited experimental film that uses the metaphor of the Wild as an older, wiser lover encouraging us to let go of the structures and expectations of City in favour of getting caught up in her knowledge, her rhythms, and her extremes.
On a slightly more lighthearted (but no less poignant) note, Garbage Truck Santa by Brendan Preston, is the heartfelt story of Wayne Henderson, a City of Whitehorse Garbage Collector, who 20 years ago wore a Santa suit to work and unwittingly started a holiday tradition that has captured the heart of a community. Now kids and seniors alike revel in the yuletide spirit Henderson selflessly delivers in his tricked-out garbage truck.
Transformation by the Yukon’s Jackie Olson is a short but powerful animated piece that describes itself simply as “words to give you strength.” The film combines imagery with poetry to echo a message of hope and resilience.
Dancing Wind by Yvonne Shorty was the second of the First Nations submissions. The documentary explains how the struggle to overcome the legacy of the residential school system, which tore children away from their families, and often subjected them to degradation and abuse, is an ongoing journey for the victims.
The Grand Journey Here by Dawsonite Chris Healey also struck a chord with the hometown audience. The short experimental film tells about a big move across (and around) the continent to Canada’s North. The filmmaker based his work on a true conversation he had in a Klondike tavern.
Golf The Yukon drew the most laughs from the audience, and the film’s subjects (and partners), done up in quasi-formal attire, were in attendance. The work by Dawson favourite son Paul Robitaille tells the story of six friends who set out to golf every course in the Yukon, spanning 2000 kilometers, in under 72 hours.
The final indigenous short was entitled Shadow Spirit. Using shadows projected onto fabric, the piece by Dawson’s Kylie Van Every is a touching documentary in which she pays tribute to her father. In contemporary fashion, it includes a short blooper reel at its finale.
The screening concluded with High Tea by local film matriarch Lulu Keating (who has four submisisons in the festival). It was a three-minute comedy telling the story of an elderly women, whose glory days are long gone, as she rediscovers joy.
— Dan Dowhal