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International film festival hits the road
Eight Canadian productions to be screened in communities

Sarah Bradfield
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 10, 2014

The Yellowknife International Film Festival (YKIFF), hosted by Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP), is back for its seventh year. From Feb. 15 until March 15, the YKIFF will be making their rounds through Fort Simpson, Inuvik, Fort Providence, Hay River and Fort Smith.

NNSL photo/graphic

Film Uvanga, directed by Marie-Hélène Cousineau and Madeline Piujuq Ivalu, is an 86-minute feature film that explores the fractured life of a small Igloolik family. Uvanga is the second film from the filmmakers that won Best First Canadian Feature Film in 2008 at the Toronto International Film Festival. - photo courtesy of YKIFF

This year's tour highlights eight films from NWT, Nunavut, Yukon and Southern Canada, at various locations within the communities, at no cost to the public.

According to Executive Director of WAMP and YKIFF organizer Jeremy Emerson, the YKIFF On the Road Tour has received positive responses from communities in the past.

"They really appreciate the effort that we're putting in. We offer it free of charge, and communities have been optimistic about that. They had a few ideas of how to do things better, and we are trying to react to those," said Emerson.

Lynn Canney, last year's programming coordinator for Open Sky Gallery in Fort Simpson, attests to the success of the 2013 tour within her community.

"We had a good turnout, and everybody was happy with the films. It's a special experience to see Northern films in such an intimate Northern setting," she said.

However, the difference this year is significant. The tour will be offering filmmaking workshops in selected communities.

"We've sent feelers out to our regular community partners, as well as a few new ones, to see who was receptive to workshops. Taking advantage of the schools within the communities has been successful source," said Emerson.

In fact, YKIFF created a recent partnership with Deh Gah School in Fort Providence, and will be conducting a documentary workshop with students enrolled in the Keepers Program in March

The Keepers Program, founded by Deh Gah principal Lois Philipp, is an experiential learning opportunity for youth to promote and foster healthy environmental and cultural relationships.

"We were in discussion last year when we were preparing the grant. Here was this opportunity, and it worked that we would come to Keepers Camp to help the kids document their experience.

"It includes hours of ski-dooing, camping, cooking, trapping and snowshoe travel. We will be doing the workshop with the kids for five days, with the potential to screen the films the kids produce," said Emerson.

"We're bringing the kids in on Feb. 21 until March 1," said Philipp, "We're going into our fifth year of the program."

"Last year we didn't have the workshops, so that will add value. We can establish relationships with people face to face. Although based on budget, I can see it rotating through the communities," Emerson added.

The screening will also make its way to Inuvik Feb. 28 and Hay River and Fort Smith between March 13 and 15.

In partnership with the Fort Smith's Northern Life Museum, a workshop with film director Michelle Naomi Swallow is also in the works.

"It's a learning experience about what's out there. It helps inform us about what to do," said Emerson.

Next year, Emerson hopes to push promotion further through community newspapers and hopes that participants will increase their documentation of the film screenings through photography or feedback.

"This is what WAMP is about.

"This is what's going on in the territory, and it's inspiring to get involved."

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