The Big Finish Has Us Laughing, Crying, and Pondering

Local band Corn plays before the pierogie eaters during the DCISFF's Easter Sunday Street party.
Local band Corn plays before the pierogie eaters during the DCISFF’s Easter Sunday street party.

Despite three jam-packed days featuring a dozen screenings, workshops, artist talks, video festival, art displays — not to mention a pierogie street party — it’s nevertheless still feels like a surprise when the Dawson City film fest finally comes to an end. So, if you program a final screening called The Big Finish you’d better be prepared to deliver.

That was definitely the case, as the last set of All-Canadian shorts was shown Sunday night to another packed house at the Odd Fellow Hall. With the hundreds of films viewed by the DCISFF’s volunteer selection committee, and the scores screened over the Easter weekend, these were certainly some of the most entertaining and beautiful, and a perfect way to wrap up another terrific Dawson International Short Film Festival.

bf11000 Plateaus is a 3-minute experimental animation produced by Steven Woloshen. Made entirely in the front seat of a car (as the artist waited for actors, directors, and techies on Montréal film shoots) and produced with simple art tools, this short handmade film creatively celebrates the joy of road maps and travel … all to the accompaniment of some great jazz.

bf2The Hall by Guillaume Blanchet was another Montréal entry.  This four-minute comedy shows a man’s creative solution to a personal housing crisis, as he cleverly and funnily capitalizes on the way Montrealers expand their apartment space by leaving shoes, boots. baby carriages and other personal belongings outside their front door.

bf3Created by former Dawson Filmmaker-in-Residence Michelle Latimer, Nimmikaage (She Dances for People) is a beautiful experimental film that is both a requiem for and a tribute to Canada’s First Nations, Métis, and Inuit women. To the mesmerizing soundtrack of  throat singing, the piece deconstructs the layers beneath the recorded pageantry of Canadian nationalism.

bf4Menagerie by B.C.’s Julien Gallese, is an animation that, despite being largely black-and-white outline drawings, is almost psychedelic in its pacing and mindblowing shape shifting. The film depicts a bird in the water who is dreaming about a forest, an ocean liner, and himself. Then the tide drifts him to a strange shore.

bf5Yet another Québec entry was French Kiss at the Sugar Shack by Emmanuelle Lacombe. Funny as well as touching, the film follows two teenagers and their friends during a school trip to a sugar shack at a Maple farm. There, the two teens experience their first taste of love under the watchful eyes of their classmates.

bf6Doll House by Chad Galloway and Heather Benning is an experimental film that shows the fiery demise of The Dollhouse, which stood for decades in a frozen field just off of a prairie highway. The film counterpoints the warm colours contained within the weathered structure with the harsh, seemingly ninhabitable hinterland outside. In the artists’ own words, it is “a visually ravishing portrait of destruction.”

bf7Judging from the audience laughter, Beat Around the Bush by Brianne Nord-Stewart was very well received. (Nord-Stewart was present in the audeince, and also co-hosted a Saturday workshop on Directinf and Editing for Drama.) Her film was a very funny (but also, at times, moving) depiction of  a 75-year-old woman with Alzheimer’s who decides, with the help of her nursing home pals, that it’s time to have her very first orgasm ever.

bf8The Big Finish’s big finish was the much-anticipated Part 2 of Lulu Keating’s Broke Down Dawson Town. The episode shows the cheechako couple Harry and Tom as they try to stick it out in Dawson. With familiar references to the local ice pool, Free Store, dog mushing, and housing shortages, the film was raucously well-received by the hometown crowd.

— Dan Dowhal