Yukon filmmaker recharges in Cannes

Moira Sauer didn't know she was a filmmaker three years ago. And yet, she has just returned from representing Canada and the Yukon at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Her featured film, The Provider, was her first.

Moira Sauer didn’t know she was a filmmaker three years ago.

And yet, she has just returned from representing Canada and the Yukon at the Cannes Film Festival in France.

Her featured film, The Provider, was her first.

She made it with the help of some friends during a 48-hour filmmaking competition in 2011.

None of them had any experience making movies.

It’s a silent, black-and-white film (a practical choice – no need to fuss with audio production and editing).

The film sprouted from a cast of stars – a pack of 20 scraggly sled dogs that Sauer helps to take care of – and an idea.

What if all the Yukon ladies could simply order up a companion from Outside, a mail-order male?

“I think we’re kind of reaching that point in desperation as far as the single ladies in town are concerned,” said Sauer.

“It’s really bad. You’re laughing. I’m not laughing. It’s really bad.”

The film stars Sauer and her dogs in a love story with a surprise twist.

Apparently it’s a relatable story, as The Provider won both the Best Film and People’s Choice awards at the competition.

Since then it has travelled to the Dawson City International Short Film Festival, the Tromso International Film Festival in Norway, and now Cannes, among others.

Telefilm Canada selected The Provider from about 40 other Canadian shorts to send to the festival in Cannes. Sauer does not remember even applying.

“I’m really terrible at applying to festivals. And if you don’t apply to festivals, you don’t get seen by festivals, which makes the fact that I got selected by Telefilm Canada even more outrageous.”

At Cannes, Sauer was torn between the festival’s glitz and the potential to network with the global film industry.

“I definitely went to enjoy a glass of champagne and put my feet on a red carpet and watch a movie or two, but I also went with an intention to explore future possibilities.

“It’s business, business, business, 24/7, and it’s not my strength at all. So it was tough.”

The trick now will be to follow up on the dozens of business cards handed to her over the course of the 10-day festival, she said.

But Sauer left the festival with more energy to make movies than to make business connections.

“There was something very inspiring about the place and being surrounded by all of the people from the industry. I just couldn’t wait to get home to start working again.

“And there’s really only so much champagne a girl can drink in France before she just has to go home to her cabin and her dogs.”

The Provider has turned into the first short film in what Sauer calls her “Northern Gothic” trilogy.

She’s working towards filming the third in the series this winter. And she’s happy to be home.

“The glitz and the glamour was actually so extreme that it left me a little gobsmacked. I felt grateful for the life that I live in the Yukon and the friends that I have and the grounding that I have here. Because what I saw there was just another universe, and not one that I want to live in, that’s for sure.”

But you wouldn’t hear her complain if the Yukon had a little more champagne and a few more men.

“More men, champagne, and the Yukon: Heaven!”

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at


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