Yellowknife film fest 'shining a spotlight' on northern filmmakers

The 11th annual Yellowknife International Film festival kicks off in the capital on Wednesday, and it's screening more Northern films than ever before.

11th annual festival runs from Oct. 25-29 at Yellowknife's Capital Theatre

Tatiana Maslany and Dane Dehaan star in Two Lovers and a Bear by Montreal director Kim Nguyen. It premieres at the Yellowknife International Film Festival this week. (MaxFilms)

The 11th annual Yellowknife International Film festival kicks off in the capital on Wednesday, and it's screening more Northern films than ever before.

"The northern films, oh my goodness I'm so excited for them," said the festival's producer, Nancy MacNeill.

"We've got just a really awesome variety of things that are going to be of really particular importance to northern audiences. A lot of stories that haven't been told this way before."

Organized by Western Arctic Moving Pictures, this year's film fest is focusing on stories from across the circumpolar North, "shining a spotlight" on N.W.T. filmmakers, its website says. Along with feature films, shorts and documentaries, the festival includes workshops and panels.

MacNeill is looking forward to The Mad Trapper, by Inuvik director Dez Loreen, and When They Awake! — it looks at "Indigenous musicians in a moment of cultural and political resurgence," according to the festival website.

"It's been a project about cultural and music education across the North," MacNeill says. She says the film had a "huge premiere" at the Calgary International Film Festival a few weeks ago.

"Now we get to bring them home a little bit, and that's going to be fun."

The Last Walk, by local director Jerri Thrasher, is a joint project from the N.W.T. and Norway. It follows a woman setting out on the harsh land to find her sister, who was banished from the community.

Journeys to Adäka

From Yukon, Journeys to Adäka premieres Wednesday night. It follows seven artists from Alaska and throughout the Yukon on their journey to the Adäka Cultural Festival in Whitehorse.

"It's also a personal journey," said Fritz Mueller, one of the filmmakers. "People are overcoming various challenges and growing into who they are. It's a story of discovery and healing and reconciliation."

"It's been a really magnetic event," added co-director Teresa Earle. "These individuals have become friends. So we feel very much like we've been along as witnesses of this journey."

Two Lovers and a Bear, a feature film shot in Iqaluit by Academy-award nominated director Kim Nguyen, plays on Friday. Edna's Bloodline, which follows former Nunavut commissioner Edna Elias as she traces her family history, premieres on Saturday.

The festival will also have some well-known international movies, including I Am Not Your Negro that delves into race in America, and Borg/McEnroe about the rivalry between Swedish tennis legend Björn Borg and American John McEnroe, played by Shia LaBeouf.

The festival runs from Wednesday Oct. 25 to Sunday Oct. 29 at Yellowknife's Capitol Theatre. The full schedule can be found here.

With files from Loren McGinnis


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