I’ve been pretty much living at the Yukon Arts Centre this week-end, taking in as many of the Available Light Film Festival films as I can. Here are my observations:
Finding Farley: this is a beautiful, beautiful film. After Leanne Allison and Karsten Heuer created the movie Being Caribou, which is another must see, Karsten put out a book about the trip. On a whim he sent a copy to Farley Mowat, who wrote back to say how much he liked the book and invited them to visit him at his home on Cape Breton Island. The couple decided it wouldn’t be right just to fly or drive to N.S., so instead they along with their toddler Zeb and their dog Willow retraced Farley’s life story by paddling, portaging, taking the train, and sailing a boat to reach him. Zeb of course stole the show. He and his mom were at the screening and when people asked him what he remembered and liked most about the trip, his answer was ‘Hippos and fish’. Those darned hippos were everywhere it seems!
The Horse Boy: another absolutely beautiful, hopeful film about just how far parents will go to help their children be healthy. It’s the story of a young autistic boy and the trip that he and his parents took to Mongolia to be healed by shamanic means. I loved this movie.
H2Oil: this was very well done but pretty depressing. My feelings upon leaving the theatre? We are totally fucked!
Neil Young Trunk Show: this was the one film I was a bit disappointed in. I expected to hear lots of Neil talking. Instead, it was pretty much him in concert. Still good though to see my Neil.
CBQM: a story of the importance of a community radio station to the people of Fort McPherson. This film is simply delightful. So honest and innocent. Very funny. Reminds me of my days living in the Eastern Arctic. Like in this movie, people would send messages to one another via the local radio station. I remember one message from a wife who was livid after finding out her husband was having an affair. This wife sent a message via the radio for the adultress, warning her to stay away from the husband.
Crackie: a pretty dark film set in Newfoundland, with a wonderful performance by Mary Walsh and a very hopeful ending.
Prom Night in Mississippi: the promo line for this is “Nothing changes until you do.” Here’s how this film is described in the film festival program: Even though the US Supreme court ordered the integration of schools in 1954, integration didn’t happen in Charleston, MS until 1970. This was the same year that white parents refused to integrate the school’s graduation dance in favour of segregated proms. Charleston High School held its first-ever integrated prom in 2008, paid for by local resident and Academy Award-winning actor, Morgan Freeman. Saltzman captures the simmering racism and blossoming hope in this anachronistic town. This is a film that leaves one full of optimism for our world.
All in all, I think this is the best festival the Yukon Film Society has put on. And there are still some promising looking movies on tap for today. My picks are Soundtrack for a Revolution and Cooking with Stella. Maybe Reel Injun too if I can last that long.
One last note: the National Film Board’s web site has hundreds of full-length films that you can watch for free. We are very lucky in this country to have this organization, so do check out the movies it offers on-line.
Note: the photos in this post were taken from the Available Light Film Festival web site.