To commemorate National Film Day, which transpired immediately at the start of this year’s Dawson Film Fest, the Saturday 7 p.m. screening was a free Reel Canada smorgasbord — or should that be poutine — of made-in-Canada short films. As always, the pieces not only reflected the immense variety of the mosaic that is Canada, but also showed a diverse portfolio of cinematic styles and approaches. The results were made even more poignant by the fact that this is our country’s sesquicentennial year.
Traces du Futur by Ontario’s Peter Mettler came out of Switzerland’s Visions du Réel program. Filmmakers at the festival in the past 20 editions celebrate the event’s anniversary by each making a short film in which they expose their view of the fixture. This film is a surreal and visually-rich three-minute vision by Mettler.
The Grandfather Drum is a unique 11-minute animation by Michelle Derosier. It follows the true story of Naamowin’s drum, revered for its healing powers by the Anishnabek First Nation, and subsequently lost as Christianity and government disrupt the delicate balance between the sky-world and the underworld.
No Cultural Value: The Artwork of Armand Lemiez by Mike Maryniuk of Manitoba tells the story of folk painter and sculptor Armand Lemiez, who tried unsuccessfully for nearly 10 years to will his land, outdoor sculpture installations, and 500 paintings to the province, which deemed the outsider art to be valueless.
Tracking Sasquatch (Field Report #4) is a 4-minute experimental film by Christina Battle of Ontario. This is the fourth chapter of an ongoing series on tracking Bigfoot, and employs Google Earth imagery plus cryptozoology-related text generated, sourced, and scoured from various articles and essays found on the internet.
Mutants is a drama by Alex Dostie of Quebec. This edgy coming-of-age story set in the summer of 1996 follows the ups and downs of young Keven Guénette, to whom “life throws a curveball in the face … and it strikes.” Influenced by his paraplegic baseball coach, Keven learns about sex, young love, and making choices.
Little Folk of the Arctic is a three-minute animation by Nunavut’s Neil Christopher. It relates Inuit tales of little folk said to inhabit the high Arctic. The mythical beings shun human contact but over the years hunters have gathered stories and expereinces to help us understand these diminuitive denizens of the tundra.
God’s Acre is a moving and thought-provoking drama from Alberta. Starring Lorne Cardinal (who will be familiar to viewers of Corner Gas) the short film tells the story of an older aboriginal man being forced to adapt to the constantly-changing world being forced upon him by climate change.
— Dan Dowhal