YFS News

Feb. 15

Available Light Film Festival 2019 wrap-up press release


Available Light Film Festival 2019 sets new records with highest attendance to date, a Yukon film opens the festival, achievement of gender parity in programming and four sold-out screenings.

Whitehorse, Yukon (February 21, 2019)

The 17th annual Available Light Film Festival opened with a Yukon-made film for the first time in the festival’s history, set a new attendance record of 8600 admissions, took audiences on an emotional and thought-provoking journey through 80+ feature-length and short films and achieved gender parity in the overall programming. How to Bee (Dir. Naomi Mark) and This Mountain Life (Dir. Grant Baldwin) were the best attended Canadian documentaries resulting in sold-out screenings and ended with standing ovations for both films. The Canadian fiction films that brought out the biggest audiences were Firecrackers (Dir. Jasmin Mozaffari) and Edge of the Knife (Dir. Helen Haig-Brown + Gwaai Edenshaw). The international films that garnered the highest audience numbers were a sold-out screening of If Beale Street Could Talk (Dir. Barry Jenkins), the Icelandic enviro-thriller Woman at War (Dir. Benedikt Erlingsson), and two other Oscar-nominated films: Shoplifters (Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda), and Cold War (Dir. Paweł Pawlikowski).

The ALFF Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Documentary went to This Mountain Life. The ALFF Audience Choice Award for Best Canadian Feature Fiction film went to The Grizzlies. The ALFF People’s Choice Award for Best Film also went to This Mountain Life. Thanks to Super Channel for sponsoring these awards.

The ALFF Opening Gala included a welcome by Ta’an Kwach’an elder Julia Broeren and remarks from Minister Jeanie Dendys, Tourism and Culture, Yukon Government and representatives from Telefilm Canada and Canada Media Fund. The Opening Gala Film was Whitehorse filmmaker, Naomi Mark’s How To Bee, which drew in a community unabashed in their pride and support for their Yukon born-and-raised filmmaker. A stunning portrait of father – daughter connection, Naomi tells the story of her relationship with her father through the practice of beekeeping to articulate the nuances of the cycles of life, the intricacies of relationships, and the sting of loss.

For this year’s ALFF Kick-Off Concert, Yukon Arts Centre presented the Snotty Nose Rez Kids with DJ Kookum. Local artists Tahltan Havoc, Jeremy Parkin, John Stosh, and the youth who participated in the Youth Hip Hop Video Workshop (co-presented by the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre and the Yukon Film Society) opened the show. This exciting event filled with dancing and celebration brought out an incredibly diverse Yukon crowd.

On Saturday February 2nd, the festival continued with an afternoon of free programming at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre. Focused on Indigenous and Northern programming, the afternoon featured a screening of Tia and Piujuq (Dir. Lucy Tulugarjuk) with many families in attendance, a Keynote address delivered by Dene author and storyteller Richard Van Camp about healing through storytelling and cultural connection, and the world premiere screening of Three Feathers (Dir. Carla Ulrich), a film adapted from Van Camp’s graphic novel of the same name and produced entirely in the NWT. Richard’s riveting presentation was standing room only in the KDCC Multi-purpose room and had the audience sharing stories and connecting deeply with the presentation. It was a special event, and one that left a lasting impression on the ALFF audience and festival team.

This year's ALFF Industry conference (Feb 1 to 5) was another success! There was an attendance of 450 admissions for workshops, meetings, receptions and networking events. ALFF Industry hosted 19 out-of-territory industry guests and included sessions on directing, financing, grant-writing, tax credits and interprovincial co-productions. Five of these events were free to the public. New this year was the attendance of representatives with two private production funds: the Bell Fund and Rogers Group of Funds. There were also productive meetings with the documentary Channel and Hot Docs leading to potential financing for Yukon film and digital media projects in 2019. As well, the ever popular ALFF Pitch Event awarded $11,000 in cash prizes and services to winning pitch filmmakers Kerry Barber and Aud Fischer. The ALFF Industry conference presenting partner was Yukon Media Development, Yukon Government

There were 59 events and exhibitions at ALFF 2019; including 10 world premieres, 15 Yukon-produced films, 26 films directed by women, 2 virtual reality projects, 3 short film programs, 2 media art exhibitions and 7 live musical performances. ALFF Industry included 19 events: panels, master classes, artist talks, ALFF Pitch Event and a CBC Yukon radio remote broadcast. The festival set a new attendance record with total 8600 admissions for all events. Fifty-four filmmakers and artists were attendance for their screening or performance and ALFF Industry hosted 19 decision-makers, broadcasters and funding representatives at ALFF Industry. Guests Elizabeth Castle and Marcella Gilbert with the documentary Warrior Women, took full advantage of the ALFF platform to champion the strength and resilience of Indigenous women. In addition to the February 3rd screening of Warrior Women, a film about the women of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in the 1970s, there was a high- school screening, a lunch-hour panel discussion at Yukon College, and a screening of Warrior Women followed by a talking circle at the Carcross/Tagish Learning Centre on Tuesday Feb 5th. Thanks to the support of Council of Yukon First Nations, Carcross/Tagish First Nation and Tetlit Gwich’in activist Bobbi Rose Koe, Elizabeth and Marcella’s stories and experiences reached many people in the Yukon and sparked many connections. “It was an honour to have facilitated such an impactful experience for so many people,” said, festival director, Andrew Connors.

To reach new audiences and expand the frame around cinema discourse, Available Light was proud to showcase thought-provoking and bold films such as Firecrackers, Les Salopes or the Naturally Wanton Pleasure of Skin, and Border. These films, along with the films of the ALFF Experimental Series (Black Hole Mama, The Goose, Fausto and Mangoshake) were just some of the films that generated some terrific discussion about the art and story of cinema.

With the support of ALFF presenting partners Yukon Energy and Best Western Gold Rush Inn, Industry partner; Yukon Media Development, Yukon Government and premier sponsors and annual funders: Arts Fund, Lotteries Yukon, Canada Council for the Arts, Yukon Arts Operating Fund, Telefilm Canada, Canada Media Fund, Air North – Yukon’s Airline, The City of Whitehorse, Northwestel Community TV and Super Channel, the Yukon Film Society was able to host more than 70 filmmakers, artists, musicians and industry delegates from across North America for performances and screenings of their work and to participate in ALFF Industry events. Filmmakers and guests in attendance at screenings and performances included: Julia Kwan, Richard Van Camp, Elizabeth A. Castle, Marcella Gilbert, Neil Macdonald, Shayne Putzlocher, Renée Beaulieu, Kat Jayme, Heidi Piiroinen, Ida Calmegane, Sandra Johnson, Daniel Janke, Millefiore Clarkes, Allan Code, Kelsey Eliasson, Karine Genest, Marty O’Brien, Sean Devlin, Jasmin Mozaffari, Brendan Preston, Peter Jickling, Patrick Keenan, Jeremy Emerson, Ashley Evans, Silver Kim, Helen Haig-Brown, Odile Joannette, Naomi Mark, Vivian Belik, Lulu Keating, Jeremy Parkin, Casey Koyczan, Camilla MacEachren, Dan Sokolowski, Martina Halik, Tania Halik, Murray Battle, Joey O’Neil, Paris Pick, Pablo Saravanja and Jay Bulckaert. The Available Light Film Festival would like to thank the following sponsors for their support for making another great festival possible: Northwest Territories Film Commission, Outpost 31, National Film Board of Canada, Yukon North of Ordinary, Directors Guild of Canada, Driving Force, Jazz Yukon, Screen Production Yukon Association, Muktuk Adventures, La Tournée Québec Cinéma, Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre, Music Yukon, Carcross/Tagish First Nation, Council of Yukon First Nations, Bobbi-Rose Koe, Arctic Star printing, Winterlong Brewing, Yukon News, Yukon Conservation Society, Yukon East Coast Cultural Club, What’s Up Yukon, The Finnish Film Foundation, Association franco-yukonnaise, Chinook Booking Services, Claim Café & Food Co., Kobayashi + Zedda Architects, Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon, Karen Walker & Wayne Tuck, Miche Genest & Hector MacKenzie, Molotov and Bricks Tattoo, Ordish & Ordish Professional Accountants, MEADIASolutions, Midnight Sun Coffee Roasters, Hot Docs International Film Festival, Documentary Organization of Canada, Jackleg Films, True North Respiratory, Northern Council for Global Cooperation, Klondike Kettle Corn, Friends of McIntyre Creek, Icycle Sports, The Collective Good, and The Miner’s Daughter.

And a huge mussi cho and shäw nithan to the 50+ volunteers, venue staff, presenting filmmakers and artists, visiting industry delegates, ALFF production team and festival audiences!

The 18th annual Available Light Film Festival will take place from January 31 to February 9, 2020 in Whitehorse, Yukon.

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