2014 DCISFF Award Winners

As challenging as it was to sort through hundreds of submissions in order to put on the 15th Dawson City International Short Film Festival, it’s even harder to pick the winning entries. The DCISFF screenings offer so many quality short films, in a wide variety of genres and formats, and spanning the gamut from hilarious to heartrending,  that juries and audiences alike have great difficulty singling out individual films for awards.

Nevertheless, the hand wringing and agonizing is over, and the decisions have been made. Congratulations to all the filmmakers whose films were displayed over the four days of the Festival, but special kudos to these entries selected for formal recognition for the Lodestar Award (for best film from outside the Yukon), Audience Award, and MITY (Made in the Yukon) awards.

DestroyerLodestar Winner
by Kevan Funk
 MohawkMidnightRunnersYukon Brewing Audience Award
Mohawk Midnight Runners
by Zoe Hopkins
 SelPortraitWithMigraineMITY Award
Self-Portrait with Migraine
by Kathryn Hepburn
 McFarlaneMITY Award (Runner Up)
My Friend Anne
by Arlin McFarlane
 LikeARiverMITY Emerging Artist Award
Like a River
by Erin McKnight
 DealWithItSisterMITY Emerging Artist Award
(Runner Up)

Deal With it Sister
by Julie Robinson
 YouDontKnowJackMITY Youth Award
You Don’t Know Jack
by Kyle Nixon

The Big Finish

DCAS Board Member Peter Menzies leads the DCISFF audience in some appreciation.

DCAS Board Member Peter Menzies leads the DCISFF audience in some appreciation.

With almost a hundred films to watch, plus workshops and social events, all packed into an intense three days, you might think the attendees at the 15th Dawson City International Short Film Festival had had enough by the time Sunday night’s last screenings rolled around. But, judging from the size and enthusiasm of the final audience, this was far from the case.

Before the 8 p.m. screening, aptly named The Big Finish, Dawson City Arts Society board member Peter Menzies took the mike to thank the sponsors and contributors, and to allow the audience to wallow in a moment of well-deserved appreciation for not just the resounding success of DCISFF, but for all the many and varied events and activities successfully staged by KIAC in the past year.

Then it was on to the shorts, which were again an eclectic and awe-inspiring mix of genres and ideas. Fittingly, the very last one shown was the tongue-in-cheek Ordinary Gold, shot last year while filmmaker Brian Lye was Artist-in-Residence here, and featuring a dozen Dawsonites in the cast.

Some of the special DCISFF behind-the-scene contributors receive flower bouquets and flowers from DCISFF producer Dan Sokolowsky

Some of the special behind-the-scenes contributors receive flower bouquets and acknowledgement from DCISFF producer Dan Sokolowsky

The Alchemy Café proprietor (and Film fest volunteer projectionist) Florian Boulais welcomes giuests to the After Party.

The Alchemy Café proprietor (and Film Fest volunteer projectionist) Florian Boulais welcomes guests to the After Party.

After the screening, Film Fest producer Dan Sokolowsky gave special — and much-appreciated — thanks to Front-of-House Manager Karen MacKay (whose tireless and long-standing volunteer efforts, by the way, have just garnered her an award from the Yukon’s commish) and to Allie Haydock and Blake Cameron, the inspired caterers who provided festival goers with delicious, and considerately healthy, eats all weekend.

The real finish, of course, was the After Party, held for the first time at Dawson’s newest venue, The Alchemy Café. Weary but exuberant contributors and volunteers de-stressed, mingled, and partied inside the beautifully hand-crafted wood venue until the wee hours. Even the aurora borealis came to the party, putting on a memorable display of dancing light overhead. It was a well-earned chance to wind down and celebrate another successful Film Fest.

— Dan Dowhal 


Sunday Barby Sunday

Attendees at the 15th Dawson City International Short Film festival took it to the streets on Easter Sunday.  At suppertime, they were treated to the now-annual DCISFF Street Party and Barbecue out on Princess Avenue, in front of the KIAC building.

The  Dawson City Volunteer Fire Department puts on the heat as they cook up the BBQ fare for the Street Party

The Dawson City Volunteer Fire Department face the flames as they cook up the BBQ fare for the Street Party

As has now become traditional, members of the Dawson City Volunteer Fire Department were out to flip burgers and grill sausages for the grateful festival goers, while local band The Naysayers provided musical entertainment.

Some clouds showed up, chilling the air a little more than has been the norm over the weekend, as the DCISFF has enjoyed fabulous sunny weather, but those wanting to head inside, or have a beverage with their yummy BBQ meal, were able to head across the street to Bombay Peggy’s, who are also one of the film fest’s sponsors.

— Dan Dowhal

Dawosn's own Naysayers perform for the Street Party crowd

Dawson’s own The Naysayers perform for the Street Party crowd

Emerging Artists Screening a Fan Favourite

Rach year the DCISFF has one special screening, titled Out of the Cold, devoted entirely to emerging Yukon artists — those who are having films shown for the first time. With several local filmmakers and their subjects in attendance, this Easter Day matinee is consistently one of the most popular events of the entire Film Fest weekend.

This year did not disappoint. The Oddfellows Ballroom was filled, and the spirit in the hall was ebullient. The offerings were eleclectic and of excellent quality — so much so that several attendees casting fan-favourite ballots comnplained of how tough the choice was.

The debut selections consisted of: Daisy’s Christmas, a dog’s-eye view of Xmas holiday preparations and celebration; The History of Typography, a clever and engaging short that covers centuries of developments in font design in 3 minutes; Like a River, a poignant and stirring documentary about a 9000 km canoe tip and personal odyssey to raise awareness of mental illness; Pippi Goes On Strike, depicting the peccadilloes of a pet mouse; Grey Matters, a mystery mockumentary set on the outskirts of Dawson; Our Life River Changes, a thought-provoking look into climate change through the observations of experts and elders living on the Yukon River; Enough to Get By, a drama about a hard life triggering warm memories; Deal With It, one disabled person’s inspirational and brave call-to-arms against her handicap; b, a touching documentary about how one remarkable mother inspires her daughter to embrace aging; Sound Faith, a blind person’s emotional and intimate performance of the spiritual Amazing Grace; and North Watch, a hilarious animated comedy about a TV producer pitching Yukon-based shows to executives.

— Dan Dowhal, Writer-at-Large

Eager fans pack the house at the Emerging Artists screening

Eager fans pack the house at the Emerging Artists screening

Helping Yukon’s Filmmakers Get Funded

One of our missions here at the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture (KIAC)  is to support artists and art creation. So, among the film screenings, get-togethers, and workshops at the 15th Dawson City International Short Film Festival were several invaluable information sessions for  Yukon’s filmmakers. Their objective was to help those looking to create films in the north to understand where to find various sources of available funding, and to understand what the qualifications and procedures for those funds are.

Ian Reid of the Canada Council for the Arts

Ian Reid of the Canada Council for the Arts

At noon, Ian Reid of the Canada Council for the Arts outlined the different programs available from the CCA that can assist filmmakers and media artists in the north. Much of the information can be found at their website, so Ian showed how to navigate through the site, and offered several handy tips to help with the application process.

At 5:45 p.m. one of the Yukon government’s representatives covered programs specifically for Yukoners. Kevin Hannam, a film commissioner for the Yukon Film and Sound Commission walked the audience through the Yukon Filmmakers Program, and gave a breakdown of amounts that

Kevin Hannam of the Yukon Film and Sound Commission is introduced by DCISFF Producer Dan Sokolowsky

Kevin Hannam of the Yukon Film and Sound Commission is introduced by DCISFF Producer Dan Sokolowsky

can be applied for, as well as eligible expenses, how to calculate budgets, and other project and procedural considerations.

Kevin was followed by Chris McNutt of Cable 9 Community Television from Whitehorse. He let the audience know about a special limited-time incentive for northern producers just announced by the Canada Media Fund, and outlined Cable 9′s ability to help in this application process. (CMF applications require proof of a broadcast license, and C9 productions qualify in this regard).

The bottom line is that Yukon filmmakers have a variety of resources available to them to help fund and foster their projects, and they should explore these avenues fully before undertaking development and production.


Chris McNutt of Community Cable 9 in Whitehorse offers advice for filmmakers approaching the Canada Media Fund.

All the speakers also emphasized that there are contact people available in their organizations to counsel and advise people looking to tap into the network of funding.

Dan Dowhal

The Kids Are Alright

Today’s first screening showed that talented filmmakers can come at an early age. The 2 p.m. Yukon Youth showing featured 11 short films by Canadian kids, including five by Yukoners. From the whimsical to the profound, and from animation to documentaries, the young artists displayed real creativity in their stories and their production techniques.

Not surprisingly, films by Dawsonites garnered the most enthusiastic reception. Jack Amos, who has already made a name for himself in local theatre, tackled the world of cinema with his claymation piece Cirq “no” soclay. Tess Crocker, whose mom Suzanne has also shown at DCISFF in the past, produced a drama mystery titled The Secrets of the Secret Mansion. Oliver Fiegel’s documentary The Rib Off chronicles a fierce local cooking competition.


Dan Dowhal

Yukon Talent Shines at First Screening of Shorts

DCISFF producer Dan Sokolowsky acknowledges filmmakers in the audience

DCISFF producer Dan Sokolowsky acknowledges filmmakers in the audience

The 2014 DCISFF’s first slate of short films took place at 7 p.m. in KIAC’s Oddfellows’ Ballroom, and played to a packed house. Titled Yukon and Beyond, nine of the 11 films in the line-up came from Yukon filmmakers, including several local Dawsonites. In fact, in making the introductions, festival producer Dan Sokolowsky pointed out that there was someone in the audience representing each and every one of the films.

Yukon Minister of Tourism and Culture Mike Nixon (who’s son Kyle, by the way, is showing a film in tomorrow’s Yukon Youth screening) gave some official greetings and acknowledgements, and then the audience was treated to a cinematic smorgasbord of shorts.

The offerings were eclectic, but all engaging. They included Cent-Free Nation Meg Walker’s tribute to the now-defunct Canadian penny, Wedding on Mussel Island, a poignant family memoir by Lulu Keating, Kerry Barber’s Pieces, an edgy experimental piece, the imagery-ridden animated Self Portrait with Migraine by Kathryn Hepburn, and the whimsical Drifting Home by Karen McKay (who also manages the festival’s front of house operation).

Look for more great Yukon-generated content throughout the rest of the festival.

Dan Dowhal