For Yukon film enthusiasts, one of the highlights of the year is undoubtedly the Yukon Film Society’s annual Available Light Film Festival (ALFF), which offers attendees the chance to participate in workshops, attend talks and watch movies from around the world.
But what to do if your schedule doesn’t allow you to catch a title you really wanted to see? And, worse yet, you can’t find it on Netflix?
Thanks to modern technology, you may not be completely out of luck — if you’ve got a credit card and a somewhat steady internet connection, you might just be able to find the flick you’re looking for on the ALFF iTunes collection.
Originally launched during the 2017 festival, the collection was recently updated to include titles from 2018 and now consists of just under 100 films. It includes films screened at ALFF since 2003, and it includes international Academy Award-winners like Moonlight and Manchester by the Sea. The aim of the collection, much like the festival, is to highlight Canadian, northern and Indigenous content, said Yukon Film Society artistic director Andrew Connors.
“I mean, really it’s for our patrons, you know, if they miss a movie at the film festival or they want to go and watch a movie from 15 years ago that they really loved but they didn’t know it was available digitally, it’s for those patrons,” Connors said. “… And also, trying to engage the larger Canadian audiences and trying to lift up the northern work, the northern films, shine a light on those.”
The Yukon Film Society gets a small portion of the fee for every film rented or purchased from the collection.
While Netflix may be the movie-watching platform of choice for many Yukoners, Connors said the platform can be lacking when it comes to Canadian-made content, partly because of the difficulty of getting films onto Netflix in the first place.
“You’re not going to see most of the Canadian independent films that are (in) our collection,” Connors said, listing Suzanne Crocker’s documentary, All The Time In The World, as an example.
“You’re not going to find them, they’re just not there … One thing I will highlight that’s sort of really cool is that we can help northern filmmakers get their work on iTunes Canada, so we can make that request to iTunes … it just sort of kicks it up (iTunes Canada’s) priority list.”
Right now, for example, the Yukon Film Society is in the process of getting The Sun at Midnight, by Yellowknife director Kirsten Carthew, added to the service. If successful, The Sun at Midnight will join the special “Northern Films” category in ALFF’s collection, where titles like Angry Inuk, a documentary which explores the seal hunting and fur trade from an Inuit perspective, and Inuktitut-language drama Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, which was voted in as the greatest Canadian film of all time at the Toronto International Film Festival, currently reside.
As part of a longer-term plan, the Yukon Film Society, besides adding titles from future festivals, is also hoping to acquire older movies from northern filmmakers to help grow the collection.
Rentals and purchases from ALFF’s iTunes collection have been admittedly slow — “probably fewer than like 15” since its launch.
Connors explained that creating and maintaining the collection is part of an even larger plan to launch its own online digital film distribution service.
The Yukon Film Society is currently in the midst of fundraising to get the idea off the ground, which Connors said is scheduled to be launched in the summer of 2019 and will start off as a video-on-demand service using video-streaming site Vimeo.
“There’s a whole back-catalogue of films that have been made by Yukon Film Society members over the last close to 20 years and a lot of it’s not available online and so we want to change that, we want to digitize older works and support the release of newer works and sort of provide a collective approach to digital distribution for Yukon films,” Connors explained.
The Yukon Film Society knows that more and more Canadians are choosing to watch films online, he added, and wants to help northern filmmakers — and filmmakers in the Yukon, in particular — be able to reach new and bigger audiences than ever.
“We’re part of that engagement with Canadians, bringing Canadian stories to Canadians, and a Canadian point of view … an Indigenous point of view, those are really important voices that we support in all of our activities,” he said, “whether it’s supporting filmmakers or training and workshops and of course our screenings and festival in particular.”
The ALFF collection on iTunes can be accessed via iTunes.com/ALFF
Contact Jackie Hong at firstname.lastname@example.org