'A real honour': Fort McPherson buzzing with pride over film shot in community

'The Sun at Midnight', a full-length feature film shot in the N.W.T., is set to have its world premiere Sunday night in Fort McPherson.

'The Sun at Midnight' premieres Sunday night in the community

Fort McPherson's Sarah Jerome (centre) on the set of 'The Sun at Midnight.' The film marks Jerome's first foray into the world of acting. (Submitted by Kirsten Carthew)

A full-length feature film shot in and around Fort McPherson, N.W.T., is set to have its world premiere Sunday night in that community.

The Sun at Midnight tells the story of an unusual friendship between a hunter obsessed with finding a missing caribou herd and a 16-year-old urban princess, who, in the wake of her mother's death, is sent to spend the summer with her Gwich'in grandmother.

The film features Canadian actor Duane Howard, who played Elk Dog in 20th Century Fox's film The Revenant, as well as Devery Jacobs, the Canadian actor best known for her leading role as Aila in the award-winning feature film Rhymes for Young Ghouls.

'I'm really, really excited'

"I'm really, really excited about seeing the movie, because it's been a year since we filmed," said Fort McPherson's Sarah Jerome, who landed a leading role in the film.

"I was the grandmother of this young Gwich'in girl… who was a real city girl, and you can see that in the movie because of the way she was dressed and the way her hair was blond, and makeup and everything. A real city slicker."

The film marks Jerome's first foray into the world of acting, and she credits the film's director, writer, and producer, Yellowknife's Kirsten Carthew, for drawing her in.

Carthew, a former CBC journalist, has worked as a filmmaker and producer in Europe, the Middle East, Canada and the U.S.

Carthew on the set of The Sun at Midnight, a Canadian film which she directed, wrote, and produced. (submitted)

"I was really honoured, because she had so much trust in me, and I guess she saw the potential in me," Jerome said.

'I was just in my element'

Jerome says it was the relationship between her character and the teenaged granddaughter that helped her relate to her role on a visceral level.

"The part that really moved me was when we did the shooting at 8-miles, just below the ferry.

"I was explaining to my [character's] granddaughter… about the mountains and the caribou, and how the caribou came back every year in the fall, our source of food for generations.

"When I was talking to her about that, it just brought back so many memories of when we used to go up into the mountains because that's where we lived prior to going to the residential school.

"So that part really stood out for me, and I was just in my element trying to explain this to her."

'A real honour'

Jerome says she's not the only person eagerly awaiting Saturday's screening. She says the whole community is buzzing with excitement and pride.

'I think it’s a real honour... I mean it was filmed right in our community.' (submitted by Kirsten Carthew)

"I think it's a real honour for them. I mean it was filmed right in our community, and also up in the Richardson Mountains, which is such a big part of our community."

And it was a community effort. The Gwich'in Social and Cultural Institute became involved with The Sun At Midnight at the script stage in 2009, as a core funder and as a cultural advisor. Elders and community members workshopped the script and provided ongoing feedback throughout its evolution.

The film is screening at Fort McPherson's Chief Julius School at 5:30 p.m. Sunday night. It'll have its second screening at the Yellowknife International Film Festival on October 2.

with files from Wanda McLeod and Marc Winkler