Dawson City International Short Film Festival 2017

Out of the Cold Lets Emerging Yukon Filmmakers Warm Up 

One of the more popular events at the Dawson Film Fest is always the Sunday afternoon Out of the Cold screening. This showing highlights up-and-coming Yukon filmmakers, including (not surprisingly, given the strong creative temperament of Dawson City) many local artists. It takes a lot of work to make a film, and even more nerve to put it out in front of audiences, but this year’s crop of fledglings did not disappoint. From quirky animations to stirring documentaries to mirthful dramas, the movies were as diverse and imaginative as the filmmakers themselves.

Trunk Road, Apt. 9 is a charcoal animation by Yukon SOVA student Kayza de Graff. The film depicts the residents of an apartment building, with the scenes being divided into five parts, narrated by an anonymous writer and her typewriter. The animation is simple but effective in its minimalist but creative composition and witty storytelling.

Ice Flow by Dawson’s Cynthia Hunt is a 10-minute documentary about freeze-up on the Klondike River that captures the beauty and the demands of the backwoods lifestyle. The day-to-day life of a couple making their preparations forms a backdrop, as Nature makes herself heard in the river’s gradual shift from movement to stillness. Meant to be bit players, some cavorting river otters steal the show.

Earth and Sky by Alan Code is a documentary describes itself simply as “it’s about the land.” But the touching film is more than that, as it pays posthumous homage to an old Yukon cowboy who has spent his entire life as an outfitter and guide. We watch — and learn — as he reminisces and passes on his wisdom to the next generation.

Originally produced as part of the 2016 48-Hour Film Challenge, Monty by Lee Caruthers is a tidy little tongue-in-cheek narrative about a woman who takes her old dog into the Yukon mountains. When the dog disappears, the woman calls, and searches, and agonizes over her canine companion’s fate.

Shift is a 30 minute documentary by Kelly Milner. Beautifully shot and infectiously inspirational, it relates how the indigenous youth from Carcross, Yukon have spent the past decade transforming traditional trails around their community into a world-class mountain biking destination — and changing themselves along the way.

Witch Therapy by Heidi Loos is the humourous story about married witches Zoey and Jordan. As happens in many a marriage, the couple has lost its magic … except in this case the magic is very real. So, the wiccan pair set out to find a solution by visiting a marriage counselor, with some unexpected and funny results.

Masters of Ceremony is another dog-driven film by Dawsonite Krista Davis on the subject of the YOLO (You Only Live Once) philosophy, as popularized by Canadian hip-hop star Drake. The canines show us how they adopt YOLO in their manifesto for extracting joy from every moment.

Nervous Poo by Nina Reed is a clever comedy about Jane, who, moments before her blind date, is sent rushing to the bathroom through nervousness, only to discover there is no toilet paper. But this is no toilet humour, as what ensues is both witty and heart-warming. An original and well-acted piece of filmmaking.


— Dan Dowhal


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