Film tells story of Aboriginal youth who helped build Yukon bike trails

Two years ago, Kelly Milner had never made a film. Now, her documentary about Carcross's renowned mountain-bike trails, and the Aboriginal youth who helped build them, is headed to the Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Kelly Milner's 'Shift' tells story of aboriginal youth who built Carcross's renowned biking trails

'Everytime people watch this film, they say, 'It’s just so beautifully shot,'' Milner said, giving credit to director of photography Dave Hamelin. (Shot in the Dark)

Yukoner Kelly Milner is still gobsmacked by the news this week — her short documentary film, the first she's ever made, will be screened at a high-profile festival this fall and may end up touring the world.

'It kind of seems like a dream,' says Kelly Milner, a Yukon filmmaker, whose first film is heading to the Banff Mountain Film Festival next month. (Archbould Photography/Shot in the Dark)
"I'm still not sure that I've come down from it, in terms of realizing what we've been able to achieve with the film, and the story," she said. 

"It kind of seems like a dream." 

The film, Shift, tells the story of a group of Aboriginal youth in Carcross, Yukon, who spent years helping build what have become world-renowned mountain biking trails. So renowned, in fact, that they'll be visited next week by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

"This is a film about mountain biking, but it's also about something much bigger," Milner said.

In November, it will be screened at the Banff Mountain Film Festival, and could become part of the touring festival, which is screened around the world. 

'Icing on the cake'

The film shows the positive impact the project had on the young people, giving them a sense of purpose and responsibility.

"To see that recognized and to be able to screen it at an event like [the Banff Mountain Film Festival], is really special for me," Milner said.

The young people, with the support of their First Nation, spent years converting historic trails into a major tourist destination. (Derek Crowe)

"I was really getting tired of watching people skiing, or biking, or whatever — great, wonderful shots — but where's the story?"

Milner calls the festival "the total icing on the cake" of what's become an amazing, and in some ways, unexpected journey for her. Two years ago, she had never made a film, and didn't even know where to begin.

"To be able to set something that seems like such a lofty goal, and now to be there, is pretty special."

with files from Dave White