I’m a little late to the blog party this year, I know. It was a really different festival for me this time around, and somehow there wasn’t a lot of extra mental space for writing and photographing. In previous years, I would go to all of the workshops and most of the screenings, and would take some down time throughout the weekend. This year, I attended every single screening (except the Youth screening, because it was happening at the same time as the First Eyes screening and also I don’t mix well with small children). Attending every single screening–including Thursday evening’s presentation of The Herd and the Artist in Residence screening on Sunday afternoon–meant watching 111 films in 3 and a half days. And wow–it was intense. Amazing and inspiring and all that good stuff, but also rather challenging.
The festival told some difficult stories this year, and even much of the comedy was rather dark and twisted. Which I like, of course. I think it’s great that we don’t shy away from showing films like Throat Song (this year’s Lodestar winner) and North Boys, because films like that are so thought-provoking and moving, and they tell stories that all too often don’t get told.
My favourite screening from the weekend was definitely Strange Things Done on Friday night. The difficult stories are important to tell, but I do love to laugh and this particular late night screening was just the right mix of funny and weird and dark. I particularly enjoyed Love Birds. The acting was incredible, and I appreciate how the film almost seemed to move beyond language with those performances.
Other favourites from the weekend include Marv Newland’s CMYK (because my love for Marv is a love that will never die), Wild Life, The Mechanism of Spring and Bird Boy. All great animations that make my own efforts seem very, very feeble. Tabula Rasa, The Washing Machine, and FTW also deserve a special mention. And my unofficial award for Best Secretly Brilliant film would have to go to Tractor Chicken Scene from Our Footloose Remake. I went into that Saturday night screening feeling like my eyeballs were about to fall out of their sockets, and then Remake renewed my faith in film. It was totally hilarious, and also a really great way of skewering the lack of creativity that plagues big-budget Hollywood filmmaking. I’d take a handful of interesting short films over a blockbuster any day (although after seeing the Remake, I may have to watch the original in all its Bacony glory).
There are too many good films to mention. I could keep listing all the things I enjoyed, but what would be the point in rewriting the schedule here? Just go look at the line-up again, and assume that the whole weekend was amazing. Because it was. Basically, at this point you should be dying of jealousy that you weren’t here. Just go ahead and set aside next Easter weekend for a trip to the Dawson City International Short Film Festival. It won’t disappoint.
And it isn’t just good films, of course. I loved hearing Caroline Christie speak about her work as a film editor during Sunday morning’s workshop, and then being able to continue the conversation at Peggy’s later that night. I hope I also managed to convince Danielle, who attends many film selection nights throughout the winter, to pick up a camera and try putting something together for the 1 Minute Film Challenge. There is something to be said for making and not just watching.
Thanks to Dan for another great festival, and to the volunteers, and to Georgia for the great food, and the filmmakers for their great work. See you next year.