A short documentary about an Inuit traditional event seldom seen outside the community where it takes place won the Best of Festival Golden Sheaf award at the Yorkton Film Festival May 28.
Nalujuk Night documents a Labrador Inuit tradition that is both exhilarating and frightening. Every January 6 from the dark of the Nunatsiavut night, the Nalujuit appear on the sea ice. They walk on two legs, yet their faces are animalistic, skeletal, and otherworldly. Snow crunches underfoot as they approach the Inuit community of Nain.
It is a beloved annual event, showing that sometimes it can be fun to be scared. It is an exciting chance for Inuit, young and old, to prove their courage and come together as a community to celebrate culture and tradition. It was directed by Inuk filmmaker Jennie Williams.
The film also won the Kathleen Shannon award, which is awarded to a filmmaker whose production reflects voices which are rarely heard, and the Golden Sheaf for Documentary Arts/Culture.
The Ruth Shaw Best of Saskatchewan award was presented to Toxic Neighbour, a documentary in which a sheep farmer tells the story of his troubles with his next‐door neighbour, the world's largest nuclear complex. This poetic documentary also explores how this relationship changed him.
It was directed by Colin Scheyen, a Saskatoon‐based filmmaker. The film was shot in Ontario but all the post‐production was completed in Saskatchewan.
The awards gala Saturday night marked the conclusion of the 75th anniversary edition of the Yorkton Film Festival, the longest continuously running film festival in North America. In total, 27 Golden Sheaf awards were presented.
YFF Executive Director Randy Goulden noted that it was a pleasure, after two years of hosting virtual festivals, to be able to present the Golden Sheaf awards at an in-person event.
This year marked the 75th anniversary of the festival organization, and the return of workshops, film screenings and social events enjoyed by film makers from across Canada.
The Festival began in 1947 as the Yorkton Film Council. Its mandate was to act as a volunteer distribution agency for the National Film Board (NFB). Jim Lysyshyn, field man for the NFB, suggested a film festival. When the Council rejected his proposal, he came forward with a more audacious proposal – an international festival.
The Council accepted the new idea and organized the first festival in the fall of 1950. Throughout the 1950s, the festival was a huge success with as many as 4,000 people at the screenings, this at a time when the population of Yorkton was only 8,000.
The festival has undergone many changes in its history, but can still claim to be the longest continuous film festival in North America. In its current form the festival continues to be dedicated to the promotion of the best screen-based media content through our annual film festival and Golden Sheaf Awards competition.
In addition to the annual event, the festival is dedicated to the promotion of short video content through our year-round screening and tour outreach programs.
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