The Yorkton Film Festival is researching and writing its history as part of a 65th anniversary celebration slated for May 24-27, 2012.
In 1947, volunteers established Yorkton’s International Film Festival, the first established in all of North America. Many considered the city too small, too isolated, for a major documentary competition. That the festival continues after 65 years gives the lie to that hasty opinion. That the festival continues after 65 years gives testimony to the work and dedication of the people of Yorkton and the film industry of Canada.
The history of the festival presents a number of stories, some humorous, some sad, some witness to an unbelievable determination. In 1956, plain clothes RCMP trailed the Soviet delegation through the streets of Yorkton. Everyone in town knew of the police tail and everyone thought it enormously funny. Just one year later, Stan’s Avalon Studios was destroyed in a fire. Because the festival stored all its equipment in the business, the Yorkton Film Council had to raise funds for its replacement. In the 1960s, largely because of the advent of television, attendance at festival events plummeted. The film festival people, resolved to persevere, led the festival in the 1970s through a transformation that has endured for 40 years.
In 1980, Budge Crawley, executive producer of the Rowdy Man and the Oscar winning documentary, The Man Who Skied Down Everest, said, “Recognition at Yorkton is a badge of quality not to be ignored. “ His statement underlines the ongoing importance of the Yorkton Film Festival in the world of Canadian film.
Thanks to the festival’s innovation and determination, the YFF will celebrate its 65th anniversary May 24 – 27, 2012. Sixty-five years - a long time, a reason for celebration.
Kathy is a retired Yorkton teacher and a freelance writer, who was commissioned to compile the history of the Festival.