YK Film Fest helping grow the local industry

In addition to screening 27 great short and feature-length films of circumpolar and contemporary cinema, the 8th Annual Yellowknife International Film Festival has organized an impressive lineup of workshops and opportunities for people wanting to learn more about the industry.

This year’s festival – bigger, bolder and more sophisticated – in many ways mirrors what’s been happening in the NWT’s burgeoning film industry. Thanks to high profile series like Ice Pilots NWT and Ice Road Truckers, interest in the North by southern and international production companies has never been higher.

“Today alone I’ve had five inquiries from production companies in L.A., Japan and Toronto,” Camilla MacEachern, associate film commissioner for the NWT, said Tuesday.

But northern filmmakers telling home-grown stories are who organizers of this year’s festival are catering to with a series of workshops with industry leaders. At Sunday’s Pitching Panel, budding media-makers will get a chance to float their ideas with industry heavyweights such as Raf Katigbak of VICE, Lauren Davis of Telefilm, director Michel Poulette and Chris McNutt of NorthwesTel Community Television.

“It’s like one-on-one speed-dating sessions with key industry decision-makers,” says filmmaker Kirsten Carthew, a festival organizer who helped put together the workshops.

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“The more we do programming like this, the more we’re also sending a message out to industry leaders to come to Yellowknife.”

Other programs include: casting workshops for actors, learn how to make your iPad animation with the NFB, casting workshops for filmmakers, and a public talk with VICE on Sunday at 3 p.m. at NACC.

Carthew says there’s still a ways to go before incentives and support for NWT filmmakers match those in Yukon and Nunavut, but the momentum is growing.

MacEachern says Industry, Tourism and Investment provides filmmakers in the Northwest Territories with film production and marketing support under the Support to Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Policy. The $100,000 pot assists applicants with costs associated with completing films, and was recently expanded to include support for small production and trailer/pitch production.

The festival kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. with the premiere of France Benoit’s Kiri’s Piano at NACC, followed by an opening reception and the screening of Michel Poulette’s heralded Maïna (trailer below) a story of Innu and Inuit conflict before contact with Europeans.

For a full festival lineup and information on the workshops, visit the festival website.

Maïna Trailer HD] (HD 720p)

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