Available Light Film Festival 2021 Audience Choice Winners and Recap

March 2, 2021

Available Light Film Festival 2021 hybrid event successfully launches online and finds new audiences across Canada

Whitehorse, Yukon (March 1, 2021) The 19th annual Available Light Film Festival sparked audiences and filmmakers in an exciting 18 days of cinema, networking, concerts and filmmaker talks over 80+ virtual and in-person events. Attendance of these events included: 4600 event/film streams, 1120 admissions to in-cinema events and 400 patrons engaging with media art exhibition throughout the city for a total of more than 6000 admissions. The actual number of people who enjoyed ALFF programming this year likely exceeds 8000 admissions since ALFF Online content was watched by more than one person in many of the households where streaming took place.

Audiences at in-cinema screenings and streaming from home were asked to rate every film they watched in order to determine the ALFF Audience Choice Awards winners. The winner of the Made in the North Award Best Feature, Beans was also the audience favourite overall film and the ALFF Audience Choice Best Canadian Feature Fiction. Tracey Deer’s coming of age drama set during the 1990 Oka Crisis was the hit of ALFF 2021 and drew the biggest audiences alongside local favourite, First We Eat, Suzanne Crocker’s eating local in Dawson City film, which is the ALFF Audience Choice best film for Best Canadian Feature Documentary. The other Canadian films that brought out the biggest audiences were Monkey Beach (Loretta S Todd), Shiva Baby (Dir. Emma Seligman), Little Orphans (Dir. Ruth Lawrence) and My Salinger Year (Philip Falardeau). The International films with the highest audience numbers were My Donkey, My Lover and I (Dir. Caroline), Stray (Dir. Elizabeth Lo), and The Painter and the Thief (Dir. Benjamin Ree).

The Top Ten ALFF Audience Choice films were:

1. Beans
2. First We Eat
3. The Painter and the Thief
4. The Reason I Jump
5. Keyboard Fantasies
6. Crock of Gold: A Few Rounds with Shane MacGowan
7. Driveways
8. The Truffle Hunters
9. The New Corporation
10. Gaza Mon Amour

Attendance to this year’s Available Light was a very different experience with two thirds of the program streaming virtually and one third experienced in-person.  Overall highlights included: 13 sold out in-cinema events at the Yukon Arts Centre, 73 films were screened, including 8 world premieres, 3 filmmakers from diverse communities received the newly launched Made in the North Award and parity of overall programming was gender equal. For this year’s ALFF Opening Night at the Yukon Arts Centre, Music Yukon helped the festival present Whitehorse-based electronic musician, Jeremy Parkin who performed live to a video he had assembled using footage he shot on VHS tapes this past summer. This concert preceded the in-cinema screening of the ALFF opening film, Beans and made for a memorable festival opening night.

With the move to presenting ALFF virtually, the festival was able to reach new audiences across Canada by screening right in their homes. Of the 1300 households that streamed films and events on ALFF Online, 372 of those were households outside Yukon and the NWT with the greatest viewership in southern Canada coming from British Columbia, which constituted 10% of online ticket sales. About 70% of all the content on ALFF online was available to Canadian audiences. All artist talks, panels and virtual events such Available light Cabaret concerts and the Dinner and a Movie cooking class with Toronto Chef Luke Donato were available worldwide and as such, ALFF content reached audiences in eight other countries.

The ALFF Pitch Prize was awarded to Douglas Joe at the ALFF 2021 Short Film Pitch Event on Tuesday February 9. The pitch for Douglas’ project Sheka Dizhi closely won out in a field of six outstanding projects pitched by a diversity of teams from Whitehorse and Dawson City. Douglas will receive the Northwestel Community TV Prize of $5000 cash and $2500+ in-kind production services from Yukon Film Society towards the production of his dramatic short.

As previously announced, this year, Available Light Film Festival (ALFF) was thrilled to award $10,000 in cash prizes to three outstanding films by underrepresented filmmakers with films in Official Selection at ALFF 2021: The Made In the North Award presented by Canada Goose (MINA) for Best Canadian Feature film went to the coming of age drama, Beans by Mohawk filmmaker, Tracey Deer. An honourable mention went to No Visible Trauma, a documentary that skillfully analyzes events that build to a dismal and stunning portrait of the misuse of authority by the Calgary Police Service. The MINA for Best Northern Short Film went to K’i tah Amongst the Birch by Melaw Nakehk’o of Yellowknife, NWT. The MINA for Best Canadian Short Film went to Sing Me A Lullaby by Toronto’s Tiffany Hsiung. The Made in the North Award is made possible by Canada Goose and is designed to advance the talent of Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and LGBTQ2S+ Canadian filmmakers with a focus on those living in northern territories.

Despite travel restrictions limiting the usual guests and industry delegates attending in person, ALFF still facilitated meaningful engagement with filmmakers virtually and in person, including; Charles Officer, Amanda Strong, Michelle Derosier, Tracey Deer, Jennifer Abbott, Suzanne Crocker, Daniel Vernon, Lulu Keating, Naomi Mark, Marty O’Brien, Tiffany Hsiung and Douglas Arrowsmith, to name a few.

ALFF Industry sessions were entirely virtual this year and were well attended by more than 60 emerging and established filmmakers from across Canada . Film and media industry presenters included decision-makers, the Indigenous Screen Office, the NFB and public financing institutions participated in ALFF Industry sessions and networked with creators throughout western Canada. Organizations included: CBC Docs, Indigenous Screen Office, Crave/Bell Media, Telefilm Canada, The National Film Board of Canada, Knowledge Network, Northwestel Community Television, Yukon Media Development, the Arctic International Film festival in Russia and the Canada Media Fund. “It was an honour to have facilitated such an impactful experience for so many creators and audiences alike,” said, festival director, Andrew Connors.

The Yukon Film Society humbly acknowledges that we are based on the traditional territory of the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation and that we live, create and benefit within this territory. Shä̀w níthän. Kwä̀nä̀schis. Gunalchîsh. The Yukon Film Society gratefully acknowledges the annual support of Yukon Arts Operating Fund, Lotteries Yukon and Canada Council for the Arts. The ALFF 2021 presenting partner was Canada Goose. Mahsi Cho to all the public funders, sponsors, community partners, artists, audiences, industry presenters, festival staff, venue staff and volunteers who participated and supported ALFF 2021.

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