Director Jen Walden thanked Yellowknife for its “incredible support” as her movie, Elijah and the Rock Creature, received its world premiere in the city’s Capitol Theatre on Wednesday.
The latest in just a handful of feature-length movies to have been shot and produced in the Northwest Territories, Elijah and the Rock Creature stars Ben Naugler and Thompson Duff, respectively, in the title roles.
Running to 88 minutes, the movie follows a lost boy and his fantastical companion on a journey through the stunning scenery of the territory’s Wood Buffalo National Park.
The cast includes around two-dozen NWT residents, with many more involved as both credited crew members and support behind the scenes.
“This would not have happened without the incredible support of this northern community in every possible way,” Walden told audience members in a Q&A following the premiere.
“From working on the film, to donating hard-earned money, to taking care of my children, to leaving food on my doorstep ready for when I got home – everybody has helped out.”
Watch: Elijah and the Rock Creature trailer
Work to bring the story, originally named Dark Sky, from its opening drafts to a finished feature took approximately two years, on a shoestring shooting budget of around $20,000.
Addressing a sold-out Capitol Theatre crowd, Walden paid tribute to the movie’s producer, fellow Yellowknifer Jeremy Emerson, who – in her words – “embarked on my crazy idea of being a movie-maker.”
She also praised the film’s young star, Naugler, saying: “I think this kid is amazing. He was a total dream to work with.”
Elijah and the Rock Creature screens has a second sold-out showing at this week’s Yellowknife International Film Festival on Sunday at 3:30pm, followed by a Q&A with Walden and Emerson.