The first official screenings of short films began Friday evening at 7 p.m. and the Odd Fellows Hall was jam packed, with standing room only. The main reason for this was that the first slate of films was Yukon and Beyond, featuring seven Yukon shorts — including a quartet by Dawson filmmakers. Needless to say, that generated an avalanche of local interest.
The films began with Freeze Up Meltdown, a comedic short by Chris Clarke, David Curtis, and Francis Bouffard. It was the winner of this year’s 48-Hour Film Competition, and depicts an isolated family’s mental unraveling when their most precious supplies dwindle.
This was followed by KwÄday DÄn Kenji (Long Ago Peoples Place) a documentary by Traolach Ó Murchú. The film relates the creation of a cultural interpretive centre on the traditional land of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, and offers a poignant insight into what it means for the participants to share their culture with others, and how reconnecting with the past and with elders affected them personally.
Next was another indigenous submission, When Water Covered the Earth, an animated short by Mary Code. This Sayisi Dene Legend was recorded in 1974 and was told by John Clipping, the filmmaker’s late father. The film takes a trip into the distant past, about 12,000 years ago, when animals worked together to save the world. It is also a fascinating glimpse into the universality and power of myth.
The fourth feature was The Klondike Viking, one of two submissions by veteran Dawson filmmaker Lulu Keating. The documentary tells the colourful story of Bill Hakonson, a Norwegian immigrant who settled in Dawson City in 1943. Hakonson’s indomitable spirit and entrepreneurial flair enabled him to start many successful businesses, and to finally find the secure family life he didn’t have as a child.
Next up was Released by Chantal Rondeau. This moving documentary follows First Nations embroidery artist Karen Nicloux, who gives a first-person account of putting her life back together — including reconnecting with her children — utilizing her gift of sewing, after a battle with addiction and serving multiple jail stints.
This was followed by Prayer for the Not Prayer Worthy an experimental film by Dawson filmmaker Krista Davis. This quirky and artful piece aims to reposition idols, soulless beings, nonbelievers, sinners — and cats — to the height of the gods, in order to construct a new story of creation, purpose and reverance.
The grand finale was Lulu Keating’s Broke Down Dawson Town. It tells the story of Harry and Tom, who arrive in Dawson, broke but hopeful they’ll find gold and the answers to all their problems. Instead, they encounter a strange town with stranger people. Well, perhaps strange to outsiders, but not to the appreciative audience, since the production featured a cast and crew full of Dawsonites. This was the first of two episodes. Episode 2 will screen Sunday at 8 p.m.
— Dan Dowhal