The dwindling daylight in Dawson City is being used as an excuse to embrace Canada’s best short cinema.
On Dec. 20, the day before the shortest day of the year, Dawson’s Klondike Institute of Art and Culture is hosting The Shortest Day film festival.
Part of an international movement to promote short films, The Shortest Day started in France nearly four years ago.
Now more than 50 countries take part, according to organizers. In Canada about 80 venues will be holding film nights some time between Dec. 18 and 21. That includes screenings in coffee shops, shopping malls and hospitals around the country.
This is a good time to be interested in shorts, says John Dippong with Telefilm Canada, one of the festival’s sponsors.
“I think people are watching more shorts now than ever before because they’re watching them on all kinds of platforms. People are watching web-based things, people are watching them on their mobile devices,” he says.
“I think shorts are more on people’s radar now and more widely viewed and well received than they’ve ever really been.”
Eight films will be shown in Dawson, running a total of about 90 minutes.
Dippong says putting together a short film can be deceptively difficult.
“You are trying to tell a story that’s not too big a story, not too small a story and you’re telling it in a very condensed period of time.”
Topics for the Dawson night include a werewolf masquerading as a French teacher and a 90-year-old woman’s internal struggle over bacon.
Many of the short films making an appearance in Dawson have already garnered attention elsewhere.
Two of them – Bacon and God’s Wrath by Toronto filmmaker Sol Friedman and The Little Deputy by Edmonton’s Trevor Anderson – both made the Toronto International Film Festival’s list of the top 10 shorts of 2015.
In nine minutes, Bacon and God’s Wrath tells the story of a 90-year-old devoutly Jewish woman trying to decide if she will try bacon for the first time.
“She’s kosher and has never had that. She’s thinking about doing that, at this stage of her life and it opens up a whole lot of other questions that she’d never really grappled with before,” Dippong says.
Friedman’s film is scheduled to be screened at next year’s Sundance Film Festival. Anderson’s was part of this year’s festival.
Overpass, the most recent movie by Quebec screenwriter Patrice Laliberte, won the Shorts Cuts Award for Best Canadian Short Film at TIFF 2015. The 19-minute French movie with English subtitles is the story of a 17-year-old boy who decides to spend a night drawing graffiti on an overpass.
The Wolf Who Came to Dinner is a 15-minute film by Jem Garrard about a girl convinced that her mom’s new boyfriend is a werewolf.
In February, Garrard won the Crazy 8’s Film Competition in Vancouver, where she shot and edited her short film in eight days.
“The cool thing about shorts, I think, is it really is where a lot of Canada’s well-known filmmakers now started,” Dippong says.
“So if you’re looking to see where talent is coming from you look at a shorts program like this and you can start tracking people.”
The films on the Dawson schedule range from four minutes to 19 minutes long.
The event is free and starts at 7 p.m.
A full list of the movies being screened in Dawson can be found online at www.theshortestday.ca
Contact Ashley Joannou at