Yellowknife's Dead North Film Festival dead ... for now

In a news release on Monday, the organizers Jay Bulckaert and Pablo Saravanja said they're giving the festival "a rest for the foreseeable future."

Organizers say the festival took a lot of time and resources, and they need a break

A poster for the Death North Film Festival in 2015. Over eight years, the festival saw about 220 short films made. The organizers have announced they're giving it a rest for the time being. (Dead North Film Festival)

The Dead North Film Festival is ending its run after eight years, at least for now.

In a news release on Monday, the organizers Jay Bulckaert and Pablo Saravanja said they're giving the festival "a rest for the foreseeable future."

"We know this comes as a shock to many of you and are sorry for that," the statement said.

The festival touted itself as the "world's only circumpolar genre film-making festival." It was established in 2012 and in that time saw more than 220 short films, which were mainly horror, made across the circumpolar north. 

The organizers say COVID-19 is not the reason for the decision, though they noted that this year's festival would have been "dramatically changed" as a result of the pandemic.

"The reality is that our decision to put it to bed has been on our minds for a long time," the statement said.

A file photo of Dead North Film Festival organizers Jay Bulckaert, left, and Pablo Saravanja. The pair said they need a break from organizing the festival, which they called a 'monumental task.' (Joanne Stassen/CBC)

'Monumental task'

Bulckaert and Saravanja said despite support from the community and sponsors, the festival was primarily subsidized by their company, the Artless Collective, and took months to co-ordinate, which meant parking other projects. It also took a personal toll, they said.

"Hosting Dead North is a monumental task, and simply put, that kind of effort is just not sustainable for us anymore. We are tired. It's time for us to take a break, catch our breath and refocus our energy," the statement said.

The pair said it could mean a year's hiatus, or more, but stressed that it is "not dead."

"We hope by investing more time and energy here, the studio will usher in a whole new era of media production here in the N.W.T."

Filmmakers taking part in Dead North had two months to produce original shorts in "some of the world's coldest climates," its website says. The films premiered at an event at Yellowknife's Capitol Theatre each year.

Some short films from Dead North went on to screen at major festivals, like Cannes and imagineNATIVE.


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