The 12th annual Yellowknife International Film Festival (YKIFF) begins tonight with the premiere of local flick Elijah and the Rock Creature.

The opening film features a majority-Northern cast and crew and was shot in and around Yellowknife and Wood Buffalo National Park, outside of Fort Smith. Jeremy Emerson, YKIFF’s festival director, hails the film as an example of what Northern content creators can achieve.

“I think it’s kind of an exciting time for the film community in the Northwest Territories,” said Emerson. “Elijah and The Rock Creature is the second feature, narrative dramatic feature, that is made here. So it’s pretty rare, but you’re seeing more of that kind of thing happening.”

Now Emerson hopes that the festival will be a way for filmmakers to come together and collaborate on future projects.

“We often find people working in isolated silos and they don’t know what their neighbours are making, or someone next door or in the next community are making, and we’re hoping that throughout the festival and seeing local work people can start collaborating (on),” said Emerson.

The Capitol Theatre will play host to a number of film showing at this year’s Yellowknife International Film Festival. Dylan Short/NNSL photo.

The festival will run from this evening until Sept. 30 with numerous showings, debuts and workshops put on by industry professionals. The Grizzlies will be the feature film of the week, showing on Saturday evening. The Grizzlies is based on a real story from Kugluktuk, Nunavut. It received three standing ovations at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this month.

“That’s the last film on our program this year, so people should come check it out,” said Emerson.

In addition to the film screenings, the festival will feature workshops that will help Northern filmmakers connect with and pitch to established industry professionals.

“Pitching, getting your shows made and how to get companies on board and get money to make your work,” is how Emerson described the workshops.

Emerson noted that there will also be acting seminars for youth on Saturday and a class on Sunday teaching participants how to film in 360 degrees.

“I’d like to see a lot of people come out and get involved and participate in the workshops and see some films,” said Emerson.

A full schedule of the festival’s events can be found online.

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