A file photo of Yellowknife's Capitol Theatre. Luisa Esteban/Cabin Radio
The 2023 Yellowknife International Film Festival will open on Wednesday with an in-progress screening of Kelvin Redvers’ feature Cold Road.
Cold Road is a thriller about an Indigenous woman and her dog trying to make their way north when a semi-truck driver starts hunting them on the highway.
Redvers said his movie is designed to be “edge-of-your-seat exciting but with a deep emotional heart, about a woman dealing with the grief of being away from home so long.”
Meanwhile, a short film about giving birth and anti-Indigenous racism in healthcare will receive its NWT debut at this year’s festival.
nihtâkwikihew/She Gives Birth, by Sadetło Scott and Heather Heinrichs, was screened for the first time at the Canadian Association of Midwives’ conference in Ottawa earlier this week.
The script for the film was chosen as the NWT selection for a 2021 program run by Bell Media’s Harold Greenberg Fund and supported in part by the NWT Film Commission. Scott and Heinrichs received $20,000 in funding as a result.
Screening as part of the 2023 festival’s Northern Shorts program at Yellowknife’s Capitol Theatre on Sunday, the film follows a woman in an isolated community preparing for the birth of her child.
When her plans to give birth at home are upended, she must leave her community and finds herself confronting racism within the healthcare system.
According to Heinrichs, the story is based on experiences she witnessed while working in an Indigenous community as a midwifery student.
“We wanted to really show the juxtaposition of the warmth and power of our traditional cultures and traditional midwifery, as there’s a lot of strength in that, and juxtapose that against the racism that people experience in the healthcare system,” she previously told Cabin Radio.
Other northern filmmakers on the schedule include:
Jonathan Antoine, Dene on the Land – Northern Shorts, November 5
Martin Rehak, The Fantastic Journey in Search of Turchacha – available online
This year, there are six online screenings accompanying 15 in-person screenings. (You can view the full schedule on YKIFF’s website, which also includes ticket information.)
Here’s what to expect beyond the world of NWT film at YKIFF 2023. Film summaries are provided by festival organizers.
Frybread Face and Me: Two adolescent Navajo cousins from different worlds bond during a summer herding sheep on their grandmother’s ranch in Arizona while learning more about their family’s past and themselves.
Lynx Man: Hannu has a love and connection to nature that surpasses most. It is the rare lynx in particular that has bitten into Hannu’s heart – so much so that he actually claims to be able to speak its language. So when a dead lynx turns up in his forest, he dons an animal mask, crawls down on all fours and sniffs out the mystery through the mire and thicket.
Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun: An intimate and thrilling portrait of a young Siksika woman and the deep bonds between her father and family in the golden plains of Blackfoot Territory as she prepares for one of the most dangerous horse races in the world, bareback.
Solo: Solo follows Simon, who must deal with the disappointment of two impossible loves: a passionate but destructive crush on Oliver and a distant and cold relationship with his mother Claire, who has just moved back in after a 15-year absence.
North of Normal: After being raised in the wilderness, a teenage girl moves to the city hoping for a normal life with her anything but normal mother.
All the Wrong Ingredients: A driven young chef reluctantly partners with his out-of-control imaginary friend to make a genius dessert. It’s a test kitchen opportunity like no other. Win, and you’re an instant A-lister. We’re talking: your own restaurant, cookbooks, TV deals. Lose, and you’re blacklisted from the world of fine food forever.
Jacques: For more than 40 years, Jacques Duhoux, expedition pioneer in northern Quebec, has lived alone in the Uapishka (Groulx) Mountains. Now, at 85 years old, he continues to live off the grid, despite the inevitable decline that comes with age. A tribute to a true monument of northern exploration, Jacques exposes the delicate balance between nature, aging and the search for freedom.
Hey Viktor! Twenty-five long years after his time in the limelight, former child actor Cody Lightning tries to revive his fortunes with a self-produced sequel to Smoke Signals in this smart, irreverent new comedy.
The Ballad of Caveman Bill: A humorous portrait of one caveman’s resiliency, adaptability and sustainability confronting the climate crisis on the sub-arctic riverbank he calls home.
Correction: October 9, 2023 – 19:27 MT. Based on information from a YKIFF press release, this article originally stated Dene on the Land was associated with two separate producers. It isn’t, it’s a film by Jonathan Antoine.