Dawson City International Short Film Festival 2013 / Film Fest

Meet the Commish Reception Launches Festival

Lucille’s Ball Feature is Film Fest’s First Screening

The 2013 edition of the Dawson City International Short Film Festival has officially kicked off. While there had been a flurry of noticeable activity all week long as a cadre of volunteers, shepherded by Fest producer Dan Sokolowski, scrambled to finish last-minute preparations, everything became the real deal at 6 p.m. this evening when the cork was popped on the opening reception.

Presented by KIAC (the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture) along with Yukon Energy, the DCISFF has been an Easter weekend tradition since 2000, and is notable for being among the most northern film festivals in the world. It is a weekend of great films, enthusiastic viewers, interesting guests, interactive workshops, and fun social events.

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Yukon Film and Sound Commissioner Nova Alberts and Dawson City Mayor Wayne Potoroka at the opening reception of the 14th Annual Dawson City International Short Film festival.

The guest of honour at the inaugural soirée was newly minted Yukon Film and Sound Commissioner Nova Alberts, and indeed the event was titled Meet the Commish. Alberts mingled with partygoers and local luminaries at the ODD Fellows Hall, and shared some ideas for bolstering the interactive digital media industry in the Yukon. She comes here following a tenure with the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association (SMPIA) focusing on advocacy, communications, and professional development for the media production industry in Saskatchewan.  Prior to her work at SMPIA, Nova spent over 12 years producing a wide range of television programming that collectively has aired in over 175 countries.

Afterwards, at 7:30 p.m. the first screening of the festival took place. It was the much-anticipated Lucille’s Ball, a full-length feature written and directed by Dawson’s own Lulu Keating. The film is a moving and quirky drama depicting the personal odyssey of the protagonist, Lucille, during the 1970s, as she makes the full circle from “sexual miscreant to mother without a guidebook.” Rear-projected location stand-in shots and interspersed animated sequences gave the film a distinctive stylized look, and added to its sometimes kinky appeal. The obvious home-court advantage in showing the film in Dawson notwithstanding, it was a lovingly-crafted, innovative, and entertaining cinematic outing that was well-received by the audience, who gave Keating a raucous ovation.

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Veronica Verkley, (at left) collaborated on the animation for Lucille’s Ball with Lulu Keating (right). Lulu holds a congratulatory bottle of champagne given to her by audience members after the film’s screening.

Keating thanked the many supporters who helped the project come to fruition, starting with the citizens of Dawson City. The first money for the production came as an Advanced Artist Award from Yukon Arts for writing the script in the fall of 2008, and subsequent funding and support came from the Canada Council for the Arts, the Yukon Film and Sound Commission, Telefilm Canada, and Superchannel. Local artist and art-college instructor Veronica Verkley also co-created the film’s animated sequences with Keating.

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Vancouver actor Britt Irvin playing the title role in the feature film Lucille’s Ball, written, directed, and co-produced by Dawson’s own Lulu Keating.

At a Q&A session afterwards, Keating  fielded questions from the audience and gave some insights into the making of a feature film on a shoestring budget. She had nothing but praise for Vancouver actor Britt Irvin, who plays the lead role and, indeed, steals the movie with her acting and singing.  Keating admitted she had a hand in writing the songs used in the film, and says she was inspired  to expand her repertoire of artistic talents by some of people she has met since moving to Dawson City.

Keating and Lucille’s Ball story editor Roslyn Muir, who also wrote and produced a short that is appearing in the festival,  will be hosting a workshop called Deconstructing Lucille’s Ball tomorrow (Friday 29 March) at 1 p.m. at the Yukon School of the Visual Arts.

Blog post contributed by Dan Dowhal, Writer-at-Large. Danny is a Toronto-born author and digital media producer who first came to the Yukon as a Berton House Writer-In-Residence. His novels include Skyfisher and Flam Grub. He now makes his home in Dawson City.

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