To many in Saskatchewan, the culture surrounding the film festival circuit might seem somewhat foreign. Although I've always been a bit of a “cinephile”, it wasn’t until I moved to Toronto (and had to adjust my morning commute significantly to accommodate TIFF every fall) that I realized just how impactful these events can be. Most people’s knowledge on the subject is limited to the laurel-encased accolades they used to see on the cover of DVD cases; universally known festivals like TIFF, SXSW or Sundance. Few people know that we have a widely regarded festival right in our own backyard: Yorkton Film Festival (YFF). In fact, YFF is known as a watershed event that could be considered a catalyst for the aforementioned, more commonly known festivals. Established in 1947, it is the longest-running film festival in North America. Although there may not be a star-studded red carpet involved - it’s an esteemed showcase for filmmakers across the country.
Recently, I made the trek to Yorkton to attend one of YFF’s annual highlights: The Yorkton Lion’s Lobsterfest. A festival favourite, Lobsterfest offers an east coast lobster dinner with a side order of skeet shooting amidst the scenic backdrop of the Yorkton Wildlife Federation Clubhouse. Food and scenery aside, there was a lively atmosphere created by hundreds of attendees from all around the country.
Lobsterfest is made possible through a joint effort by YFF and the Yorkton Lion’s Club. As a result, there was an eclectic mix of local annual devotees and veteran filmmakers from metropolises like Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. I bounced between conversations with friendly neighbourhood Saskatchewaneans and talent scouts from the likes of the Netflix Headquarters. The event is completely open to who ever wanted to attend - tickets were sold on the festival’s website for a reasonable fee and included entrance and your choice between a lobster and steak dinner. It’s a unique experience that's engaging for everyone - regardless of your interest in cinema.
Along with screenings of countless films the festival also hosted a Student Day, a First Nations Art Gala, a Virtual Reality Showcase and daily panels.
To learn more about the coveted Yorkton Film Festival go to: http://yorktonfilm.com/